Anthropology, Ethnography and Cultural Studies
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This paper will examine the apparent similarity between certain notions of origination within the creation myths of a variety of geographically distinct indigenous cultures from around the world. This will set the stage for a discussion on the roles these myths play in the social life of these cultures, and explore the possibility that these myths may offer something further in the understanding of ourselves and our place within the universe.

Anthropology, in all its various forms, I believe is driven by a desire to discover our origins. Although the face of Anthropology has changed greatly over the last two centuries, from being, among other things, a scientific method for attempting to validate the truth of the Christian Bible, to the present day where it has become more centred on gaining an understanding of ourselves and our relationship with the Universe, the search for knowledge about human origins has always been an underlying motivation in its development. This is borne out by other sciences, where man is searching further and further from himself, whether it be the ocean depths, within the orbits of atoms, or into the furthest reaches of space, for an answer to the question of "How did we come into being."

Keesing (1998) writes that Religions have 3 functions; first, to explain, second, to validate, and third, to reinforce. In a way, Science and Religion are identical, in that they serve the same purpose. They both attempt to explain, and offer answers to a whole range of questions associated with our modes of living. Scientific theories, just like myths, offer explanation, validation and reinforcement. The only difference being that the answers Science provides focus on the how, while the answers Religion provides focus on the why.

Science and Religion have played the role of antagonist-protagonist for hundreds of years, guiding human development in many ways, not always forward. But I see them as necessary bedfellows, because Science and Religion can both help each other to find and provide answers where they have been unable to on their own. For too long have the followers of one discipline kept rigidly within their field and struggled to find answers, which may very well be in plain view within another discipline. So basically, what I am suggesting is that an inter-disciplinary study may be much more successful at providing answers in situations where a singular view has failed.

Part 1 Roles of Myth

Keesing also makes mention of the debate over mythology explaining ritual, and ritual acting out myth, where the question raised is "which is a reflection of which?", and discusses the efforts anthropologists have made to "trace the relationships between ritual, myth and social structure." (Keesing, 1998:316). But I think he overlooks another important role that myth plays, which is that myth can, through its ritual, oral tradition and symbolism, encode history. That is, within the elements of certain myths there can be found encoded, actual historical events that gave rise to their existence and transmission.

Possibly the greatest story ever told by Man, a myth so universally told, and deeply ingrained in the human psyche that it has almost become a part of humanity itself, is the Biblical Flood, or Deluge story. It has roused more speculation, discussion, interest and controversy in both the scientific as well as religious communities, than any other story we know today. The story of The Deluge is not, as most people believe, exclusive to the Bible. Found, in many various yet strikingly similar forms, in such diverse countries and
cultures as the Middle East, Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, North and South America, there are more than 500 deluge legends known around the world. While many, including the Genesis account from the Bible, can be shown to have derived from the original Mesopotamian legend, researcher Dr. Richard Andee (Filby, 1970) concluded that a major portion, 82% of the Deluge legends were
entirely independent of the Mesopotamian and Hebrew accounts.

The theory that ocean levels have risen considerably since the end of the last glaciation, by about 150m as various scientists agree, is now widely accepted among many scientific disciplines as factual, thus giving a factual historical basis to the myth. Researchers Allan and Delair, in their monumental cross-disciplinary investigation of a global catastrophic event occurring 11,500 years ago (Allan and Delair, 1995) show beyond doubt that many indigenous cultures, on all continents around the world, have encoded within their mythology historical evidence of the dramatic change in ocean levels. The basis for their investigation was a comparative study of a variety of catastrophic effects recorded in more than 117 myths from cultures around the world, upon which a scientific appraisal was made of these myths, leading to an overall theory.

Although comparative studies may be out of favour with the popular anthropologists of today, I believe there are still great opportunities in the field of comparative and historical anthropology to be found, especially in relation to areas such archeology, paleoarcheology and paleoanthropology. While many researchers bicker over dates and events, only hinted at in the artifacts collected, there maybe answers more easily found within myths and legends, which in a way, are also artifacts of the past.

Central to the religious and mythical beliefs of all cultures and societies around the world is the notion of origination. All cultures and societies have some form of mythology describing both where they came from, and how the universe was created. The elements of these creation myths that I will be focusing on are the stories of the origin of human ancestors, and the common theme among a variety of cultures, that these ancestors descended to the Earth from the stars.

The first major step towards the success of such a study is to determine whether the common elements of these myths are due to cultural diffusion, of if they are in fact a product of independent invention. If cultural diffusion among certain cultures can be ruled out, then it stands to reason that similarities among those cultural elements have been invented independently of each other. The problem lies in the fact that not all cultures and their migratory histories are fully studied and established. This is due to a variety of reasons, such as lack of field data, conflicting or controversial data, the data being disparate, and disagreement among scientists over the interpretation of available data. One possible solution to the academic disagreement is the new branch of genetics, that of genealogies based upon mitochondrial DNA, however since it first came to the public eye in 1987 it too has been hotly debated (Brown,1990).

The major obstacle in such a study will be the determination of which parts of the myths could possibly be the encoding of history, as opposed to simple story-telling, or as Keesing describes, the explanation of ritual. I propose that a method by which to make such a determination would be to analyse the degree of detail, and the nature of such detail within the myths. For example, if a story describing "a being residing on high" is found across many cultures, it does not necessarily indicate commonality, nor does it indicate
whether it is based upon any historical events, or is simply a construction. However if a story describing a being, born of 2 heavenly gods, descends upon the Earth via a sort of vehicle, along a certain kind pathway, and gives birth to people who are said to be ancestors of present day people, then we have much more detail which we can analyse. The nature of the 2 heavenly beings can be compared, the type of vehicle - its construction and materials, the nature of the pathway, whether it is a ladder, or steps etc, all these are singular, individual details which can be compared and used to establish whether a myth has any common elements with another myth, and whether there is any factual, historical basis for these details.

Part 2 Some indigenous examples

1. The Dogon of Mali

One of the most interesting cosmologies of an indigenous culture is that of the Dogon people of Mali, in western Africa. The Dogon live in one of the harshest environments on Earth, the hot arid belt where mean yearly temperatures are the highest, and mean annual precipitation is the lowest in the world. They reside in a system of stone canyons and plateaus on the southern edges of the Sahara, where food, water, animals and plants are scarce. Yet they possess a large, unusually complex and advanced cosmology, with intimate knowledge relating to the nature of the stars and planets. They possess a "system of signs or ideographs including several thousands, an astronomy and calendars, a numerical system, extensive physiological and anatomical knowledge, genetics and a systematic pharmacopoeia." (Griaule & Dieterlen 1986:57). One of the most striking examples of this unusual cosmology is their belief that the star Sirius is a binary system, with a smaller counterpart, invisible to the naked eye, orbiting it. This was recorded by anthropologists Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen in 1931, 40 years before the existence of Sirius B was confirmed with telescopic photography for the first time, and 6 years before the first Christian missionaries made contact with the Dogon. The depth of the Dogon mythology is probably best summed up in the introduction to their classic work "The Pale Fox". which has come to be regarded as the definitive work on the Dogon:

The Dogon myth does not relate facts merely involving adventures, rivalries between the gods, or the effects of love and hate - love of God, wickedness and the evil one - such as they are presented by other religions. Nor does it lead to a great detachment, this ideal being proposed to man as final end, and in view of death or the melting into a "great whole".Rather it shows evidence of a serious examination of the very conditions of life and death; hence, its precise biological aspect. Certainly the universe treated as a whole, but also as a living body, articulated, ordered - to the extent that even disorder has its place - functional, with interlocking parts dependant upon each other. The myth presents a construction of the universe -from that of the stellar system down to that of the smallest grain, with man in between, himself a microcosmic image of the world.

There is no written text recording the Dogon myths as a story, instead they are passed down orally through the generations. Physical representation of the myths are made during the Dogons many rituals, whereby ritual objects decorated with specific designs and patterns have the mythology encoded within their design, construction and decoration, as well as within the performance of the rituals themselves.

The Dogon creation myth is hugely complex, but for the relevance of this paper, can be summarised as follows. Heaven, which is also regarded by the Dogon as the creator, is called Amma. The stars represent the various bodily parts of Amma, while the constellation of Orion is called amma bolo boy tolo, "the seat of Heaven", or "Amma's navel". Amma split in two, creating Ogo, who represents disorder. Ogo descended to Earth in an ark, along the Milky Way which connects Heaven and Earth through a form of bridge, and he created havoc on Earth. Amma then decided to create an representative of order, called Nommo, and also created for him 8 assistants, comprising of 4 couples of twins. These 8 were called the ancestors of human beings, and they too descended to Earth in an ark, also created by Amma. The ark was suspended from Heaven by a copper chain, which allowed the ark to float down to Earth, like the Sun
traverses the sky and settles in the west. As a matter of interest, the Dogon construct a representation of the ark which is left in every home for ritual purposes; it is woven from dry leaves into a boat shaped basket.

1.1 Migratory History of the Dogon

Griaule and Dieterlen report that the Dogon claim to have come from the Mande region, west of Bamako, where they were part of the ancient Mandingo empire of Keita, which dominated a greater part of West Africa in the 13th Century. (Ibid., 26-27). Some researchers, including Temple (1987) have attempted to trace Dogon ancestry back to ancient Egypt, and while this idea seems plausible due to the complexities of Dogon mythology, and its occasional similarity to Egyptian mythology, the theory appears unsubstantiated by evidence, and is contested by Picknett and Prince (1999).

1.2 Role of Mythology in Dogon Society.

If mythology was developed to explain the nature of and phenomena within an environment, then the Dogon mythology is grossly inconsistent with the environment in which they live, because within their mythology is knowledge which bears no relation whatsoever to their physical environment. Knowledge of invisible companion stars orbiting Sirius, knowledge of 3 moons of Jupiter, that the Pleides are a group of stars, words for "water reptile", "water turtle" and "sea shell". Stories of great bodies of water, and knowledge of female reproductive physiologolgy such as eggs connecting to walls, splitting and forming the placenta, is knowledge that seems to bear no practical relation to the Dogon's physical environment. However, this knowledge is built into the daily rituals and festivals of the Dogon.

Their "social, political and economic organisations are interdependent with the system of beliefs, this being in function of a general apprehension in the social life, of the supernatural world, the world of the living, and that of the ancestors." In effect, their mythology is closely intertwined with their social life, which is geared towards harmonious existence, if not simple survival, with their environment.

(Griaule and Dieterlen, 1965:39).

2. The Toraja of Sulawesi

While many of the Indonesian hill tribe populations are converting to Christianity or Hinduism, there still remains a significant number of Torajans, particularly the Sa'dan Toraja of central Sulawesi, who follow the folk religion known as Aluk to dolo, or "Way of the Ancestors". enough so that it was formally recognised by the Indonesian government in 1970. The Toraja have recently become popular
with the ecotourism industry, due possibly to their very relaxed nature, allowing tourists to participate in sacred ceremonies such as funerals, etc. While not nearly as complex as the Dogon mythologies, there are significant similarities which will be noted here.

TheToraja believe their ancestors descended from Heaven to Earth in ships, who then populated the land. These ancestors are called to manurun, which translates as "those who descended from heaven", (Nooy-Palm, 1979:111), and they existed in a "time beyond memory" (Nooy-Palm, 1979:125). Eric Crystal, an American anthropologist living with the Toraja in the 1970's, recounts to Richard Eyre (1976) a story of how a long time ago, man could communicate with the gods by ascending a ladder to Heaven. This ladder was subsquently destroyed by the gods, when an evil man stole a fire making tool from the gods. Now man has to use ritual and shamanistic practices to communicate with the Gods.

Funerary rituals occupy an important place in Torajan custom. The highest mortuary rite, called the dirapa'i, permits the soul to ascend to Heaven, and represents a reversal of the ancestors descent to Earth (Nooy-Palm, 1979:123). The body of the deceased is wrapped and sealed in a cylindrical container, and stored in the house until an auspicious time in which to hold a funeral appears. This container, which is then decorated to show a likeness of the deceased gets carried, during a day long ceremony, through the village to a cliff where it will be stored. They are carried up bamboo ladders, which represent the "stairway to heaven", and placed in niches in the caves along the walls of the cliffs. Here, along with other deceased villagers, they are relegated to the status of ancestor, and watch down over the village.

2.1 Migratory History of the Toraja

The Toraja, along with the Kalimantan Dayaks and Sumateran Bataks, are classified as Proto-Malays, and anthropologists have concluded, based upon ethnic similarities with the Dongson culture, that they migrated in two waves from either Dongson, Annam, or Indo China (Hardjono, 1971:119). The first wave commenced around 3000BC, by sailing boats to the south and south-east from China into the Indonesian islands, bringing with them New Stone and Iron Age technology, and the Austronesian languages. Although no scientific research has been carried out in detail on the Torajan ancestors, Torajan mythology seems to confirm this general view. The arruans were the first to arrive and settle, followed by the later tomanurung, the "people descending from heaven". These later arrivals brought with them new agricultural technology, a caste system, and the complicated ritual death practices. (Drs. Stanislaus
Sandarupa, 1984:3)

2.2 Role of mythology in Torajan society

It would be safe then to say, that Torajan mythology has spread to the Sulawesi Islands through the process of cultural diffusion, and that a study of Dongson culture (which is beyond the scope of this paper) would be necessary to resolve the issue of the encoding of history within the myth. It appears that the Torajans are remnant survivors of an early diaspora, and that the mythology they carried is possibly remembered and practiced, after a fashion, in ways similar to that done in the original country. At first, it was possibly held onto and used as a form of connection between the original country and the new country, giving the survivors some form of continuity of reality, that has through the generations become entrenched as their own peculiar form of ritual practice.

3. Shinto belief in Japan

Shinto, the national religion of Japan, also contains a complex mythology, tracing its roots back to the early 8th Century with the publishing, by Imperial edict, of the Nihongi and the Kojiki. These 2 books are collections of creation stories, origin myths and descriptions of activities by famous early historical figures, and are the 2 most important texts in Shinto belief. They also became the tool by which the Imperial Yamato household could claim official lineage to the gods, and therefore official rule over the Japanese people.

According to Shinto mythology, all that is in existence is born of the gods, and is hence related. Herbert (1967:21) writes that in his relation to the Deity, Man is physiologically a son of the kami, or God. This is found in the text of the Kojiki and Nihongi whereby Prince Ninigi, grandson of the gods of creation, Izanagi and Izanami, along with the heavenly ancestors Amaterasu and Takami-musubi, descended from "the floating bridge of heaven" on a couch, to the Earth. Prince Ninigi searched out and found a wife, with whom he procreated to have children. The descendants of Prince Ninigi were then said to be ancestral line of the Yamato household, which eventually came to power.

Some authors believe the "floating bridge of heaven" to be the heavenly Rock-boat mentioned in the kojiki, which enabled the heavenly kami to descend upon the earth (Herbert, 1967:253), while others believe it was some form of physical connection between Heaven and Earth, ie. a real bridge, the traces of which can be found at Ame-no-hashi-date, in the Bay of Miyazu (on the north coast of central Honshu). Here are found a series of stepped rocks rising out of the bay, said to be remains of the bridge.

The notable difference between the Shinto stories and other similar origin myths is the fact that it was the Imperial family who claimed direct descent from the gods, whereas in the other examples it was all of mankind who were descended from the gods. Nevertheless, striking similarities remain between origination myths of Shinto and the other examples.

3.1 Migratory History of Shinto

Early Japanese history is made complicated by the fact that not only was there an influx of early people from China, Korea and a long vanished country north of China called Khitai, or "Kitai" in Japanese (possibly related to the Scythians) over quite a long period of time, there was also regular movement from the Japanese Islands to the Chinese mainland, which promoted a high level of cultural
interchange. Sugawara (1996) has studied the migrations of Chinese, Korean and Scythian peoples to and from Japan by studying the prevalence of ancient sword weaponry of these peoples. While the Japanese ruling house invaded Japan from Paekche around the 4th Century AD (Pulleyblank, in Keightley, 1983:445), it is evident that communication between Japan and the mainland was enjoyed for
centuries beforehand. According to a Wada family document, from Northern Honshu, Japanese aborigines had allied themselves with Qin dynasty "Gunkoshi" and built temples in the early Yamato period (221BC - 206BC), (Sugawara, 1996:26). Although Shinto became the official religion of the ruling Yamato clan in the 8th Century AD, it probably derived from a number of early folk religions similar in nature, from the Chinese migrants. It is not thought to be derived from Korea, as there is a form of Shinto in Korea which can trace it's history to Han dynasty China (Pulleyblank, in Keightley, 1983:444). It is interesting to note that a legend associated with this lineage relates the story of a maiden being impregnated by "vapour like a hens egg (which) had come down from the sky", who subsequently gave birth to Eastern Light, the man who was destined to become king. This man then went south and conquered parts of Korea, establishing the kingdom of Fu-Yu, which has been suggested as one of the sources of Japanese Shinto (Ibid. 445).

3.2 Role of Mythology in Shinto

The early stories of the nihongi and kojiki play a minor role in the ritual of present day Shinto, which over the centuries changed with the political climate of Japan. The stories however, are regarded as sacred, and remain within Shinto mythology. Since they were collected and published in the 8th Century, it is difficult to tell whether they were imported directly from mainland China complete, whether they were constructed on the Japan Islands from a variety of local sources that traces their origins back to China, or whether
they were changed to suit the conditions in Japan at the time. The artifacts associated with Prince Ninigi in his descent to Earth seem to have no significant purpose in Shinto, except to simply provide details. The couch, or rock boat on which he rode could simply be a construction to satisfy the curious in how he arrived on Earth, or it may serve other functions.

4. Adnyamathanha and other Aborigines of Central Australia

Much like Shinto, there is a "general belief among the Australians (the Aborigines) that the world, man and the various animals and plants were created by certain Supernatural Beings who afterward disappeared, either ascending to the sky or entering the earth." (Eliade, 1973:1). Another feature of Aboriginal mythology is the concept of "the Dreamtime", which, much like the Torajan "time beyond memory", is an unmeasurable point in the past during which the formation of the Earth and Man and other mythical events took place. However, to the Australian Aboriginal, the Dreamtime still exists, concurrent with this present time, but veiled behind the reality which we perceive at the surface. Any inexplicable phenomenon gets referred to the Dreamtime, even if it occurs today. It was during the Dreamtime that Supernatural Beings lived on the Earth, and when they "left the surface of the Earth", the Dreamtime came to an end.

Among the many Aboriginal tribes are stories of Sky Beings, and High Gods. While most of these legends involve the transfer of the deceased from Earth to the sky, who then become ancestors, there are a few tribes which have the notion of their ancestors originating from the sky. An Alcheringa myth relates the story of 2 sky beings called Ungambikula, a word which means "out of nothing" or "self-existing", who resided in the western sky. They saw in the eastern sky unformed beings called Inapertwa, so the Ungambikula took them, and using knives, cut them and formed humanoid features, which became human beings (Spencer and Gillen, 1968).

Spencer and Gillen (In Eliade, 1973) also recorded a myth from another central Australian tribe, the Kaitish, which describes a powerful sky being called Atnatu, who had wives and produced sons, who were also named Atnatu. Some of these sons neglected their sacred services, and so were expelled from the sky. They came down to Earth and became the ancestors of men. (Ibid., 29). Elkin (1964: 252) writes of a number of unnamed Central Australian and Queensland tribes having the common theme of a sky-hero who leads the tribe to their current location, and teaches them living skills, then returning to the sky, from where he came. The Adnyamathanha of the Flinders Ranges record a tradition of the Bwanapul men, who come from the sky to teach their people (White, 1993)

4.1 Migratory history of Australian Aborigines

The origins of the Australian Aboriginal is a contested issue, and the date of their entry into Australia seems to be continually being pushed back further and further. As with other migrations, it is possible they are mixed descendants of a number different ancestors from different areas over a lengthy period of time, however recent archeological discoveries date Aboriginal presence in Australia as early as 40,000 BC. So if these dates were to prove correct, can we possibly rule out a diffusion of mythology from the Chinese mainland? I don't believe we can, as there is nothing to suggest that Australia has remained isolated and unvisited at later dates.

4.2 Role of Mythology in Aboriginal society

Almost all Australian aboriginal mythology consists of stories describing the creation of physical phenomena in their environment, while the remainder of their mythology consists of stories, similar to parables, that set examples of how to act in present society. By acknowledging the creation of their people along side the creation of all the other physical features of their environment, they are
establishing the sense of an authentic connection with the land they live in. The concept of Dreamtime plays an interesting part in their mythology, as it represents an unknown, remote point in their past with which they maintain a connection. It is possible that the Dreamtime refers to an early period of history, about which little is remembered. This suggests to me that like in other remnant migratory survivors, this "time beyond memory" refers to a time before the migrations took place.

Part 3 Conclusion

In ancient times the sky must have exerted a powerful influence on early man. The sky was the domain of the forces of nature such as wind, rain, hail, storms, lightning and thunder, clouds and lights, as well as the heat of the sun, and the vista of the stars at night, all of which affected the lives of human kind. Not only were they untouchable, they were also uncontrollable, and thus made man subject to the forces of nature. So it is natural that early man would hold the sky in awe, as it had the power of life and death over him, and it follows that man, in an attempt to explain not only his environment, but also the reasons why and how the environment affected him, would create a system of mythology that would offer such explanations, validations and reinforcements. Eliade (1973:22) offers a good argument that the Aboriginal sky gods are personifications of atmospheric phenomena, because by the act of personification, man is then in a position to converse with the forces of nature. It would be fair to say that with many cultures around the world, mythologies relating to the sky could probably have been independently invented.

On the other hand, if man could see that children came from their mothers womb, and that all animals and plant life had a close relationship to the Earth, it seems strange that he would create stories of their ancestors originating from the sky, or the stars. Perhaps mans bafflement over the mystery of birth, causes him to associate that unknown with the unknown of the sky. That objects fell to Earth from the sky is not far-fetched an idea. Meteorites have over the centuries bombarded Earth, and have influenced the
mythologies of man, the Egyptian "benben" stone is an example.

But the fact is that many indigenous cultures around the world not only have a mythology about the sky, they have a persistent, detailed description of objects and events happening in the sky, that directly related to man on Earth. Whether these myths are a product of diffusion or independent invention is largely irrelevant in the end, because the question can be asked, "Why did man think to create such a story in the first place?" As can be seen from the ethnographic examples above, many of these what we would call
"primitive", indigenous cultures have a quite a complex and detailed mythology relating to the stars and the sky.

In the field of Anthropology, studies relating to human origins have come out of fashion, due largely to much speculative work produced in the 19th Century which no doubt affected the discipline in a negative way. Further to that, Anthropology has grown from simple comparative studies to a more complex and deeper investigation into human life, however as can be seen by the huge interest and fervour surrounding the Egyptian pyramids as archeologist still continue to make new discoveries which could reveal more secrets into our past, there still seems to be an interest in human origins.

If history can be encoded, as has been shown in the Biblical flood example above, into mythologies such as these included above, that involve the creation and origin of humankind, then I think that serious attention should be paid to re-establishing a more formal, possibly cross-disciplinary study, in the same vein as Allan and Delair's, into the creation and origin myths of the world. And if Science can work hand in hand with Religion in such an investigation, I believe we can make great progress in forming a clearer picture of the ancient origins of human kind.


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Brown, Micheal H.(1990) The Search for Eve. New York: Harper and Row

Eliade, Mircea (1973) Australian Religions: An Introduction. London: Cornell University Press

Eyre, Richard (1976) Way of the Ancestors. Episode "The Long Search" BBC TV video recording

Filby, Frederick O., (1970) The Flood Reconsidered: A Review of the Evidence of Geology, Archeology, Ancient Literature and the
Bible Publisher not noted

Griaule, Marcel and Germaine Dieterlen (1986) The Pale Fox. Chino Valley: The Continuum Foundation originally published (1965) as
Le renard pale. Paris: l'Institute d'Ethnologie.

Hardjono, J. (1971) Indonesia Land and People Jakarta: Gunung Agung

Herbert, Jean (1967) Shinto: The Fountainhead of Japan London: George Allen & Unwin

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Nooy-Palm, Hetty (1979) The Sa'dan-Toraja: A study of their social life and religion. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff

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Spencer, B. and Gillen, F. J. (1968) The Native Tribes of Central Australia. London: Dover, originally published 1899.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Jason Wotherspoon
Jason has been informally studying the Dao De Jing for almost 20 years, after developing an early interest in Asian culture and philosophy at high school. Over these years he has travelled a number of times to Japan, and parts of South East Asia, and has immersed himself in various pursuits related to Daoism. He has been practicing Daoist esoterica for more than 10 years, following the teachings of the Healing tao>,
which is a complex system of physical, mental and spiritual disciplines. This involved a 5 week teacher training retreat in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York with Master Mantak Chia, the founder of the system, and requires daily practice. He has also been pursuing Daoist and Confucian religious studies under Master Hsu, Chi-yuan, of the Kung Men Tsun Tao Yen, a minor sect with strong followings in Taiwan, Singapore, Malayasia, Japan and the Phillipines. After having been initiated into the mysteries of the sect in 1991, and taking vows of abstinence as a second level in 1998, he has now also begun teaching in this field as well. Along with his wife Jin Yu, from Malaysia, they both follow Dao and have been vegetarian for more than 10 years. They have a healthy and strong 5 year old son, Adrian, who has been vegetarian since birth. For the past 12 years Jason has also been training in Aikido , a non-violent Japanese Martial Art which harbours moralistic principles similar to Daoism, and he now teaches in Ipswich, having achieved the rank of 2nd Dan. Jason trained in Sydney under Saburo Takayasu Sensei, a 6th Dan Shihan who is the Australian representative for Morihiro Saito Sensei in Japan, the leading Aikido instructor in the world today. Presently Jason is studying Applied Linguistics, Chinese Language and Asian Studies at Griffith University in Brisbane. Unsatisfied with the current standard of interpretative literature in English on Dao, particulary the Lao Zi, Jason has decided to enter into formal education in order to further pursue his study of the Dao. Being a student of Master Hsu has opened his eyes to an understanding of Dao far deeper than what is often translated in books, so he plans on using the University degree to enable him to further understand the Tao on an academic level, and better communicate this knowledge to the public. In the future, he plans to write and teach on Daoist and Aikido related subjects, and open a full-time centre in Brisbane. For work, Jason is involved part time with computer graphics, web design and GIS systems at ACASIAN , He is also collaborating on the development of a multi-media based Aikido instructional project for distance education purposes.