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Elizabeth Reninger

Opening The Archives

By February 11, 2013

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Hat-tip to Sam Crane for bringing my attention to the work of Zhou Xun -- an historian who has recently published an account of the Great Famine in China. Dr. Zhou Xun's research, which she introduces in a short talk here, is based upon archival documentation of the famine -- much of which was previously, and is again (since the publication of her book) unavailable for public viewing.

Aside from the censorship of the archival reports of this horrific historical event -- in which somewhere in the range of 16-45 million Chinese peasants starved to death, all in the name of a utopian "great leap forward" (not!) -- there is now, apparently, those who are attempting to downplay or out-and-out deny that it ever happened. What's up with this?

Now, I'm not an historian -- so will leave analysis on that level to Ms. Zhou Xun and others who are qualified to offer it -- but as a qigong and meditation practitioner can, at times, see similar dynamics at play: a mirroring, if you will, of these sorts of social/political disharmonies, at the level of the "body politic." Here's what that looks like ....

The Mao Zedong of my egoic conceptual mind comes up with a Really Great Idea (really!) -- whose subsequent implementation somehow fails to take into account the actual lived experience of, say, the cells and organs; muscles, bones and sinews (you know, those "rural areas") of my human bodymind. Reports of pain and discomfort (resulting directly or indirectly from the Really Great Idea) somehow never make it all the way into Conceptual Mind's inner sanctum (or, on the rare occasions when they do, are simply ignored). Instead, archives of these reports are buried, deeper and deeper, as largely-unconscious physical constrictions, and energetic blockages.

So ... what to do?

Well, in the happy version of the movie, this is when mild-mannered Clark Kent steps into a phone booth, and emerges as Lu Dongbin -- the founder of Taoist Inner Alchemy.  Spreading the gospel of How Qigong Works, extolling the virtues of the Inner Smile and Witness Consciousness, our gentle-strong hero (never averse to mixing metaphors) encourages us to take the truly revolutionary step of opening all the archives, and inviting the long-suppressed Light of Tao -- our very own Central Intelligence Agency -- to shine its wisdom and loving-kindness on all those heretofore shadowy areas -- those constrictions and repressions, at the level of body and psyche -- replacing ignore-ance with knowledge, rejection with acceptance, hatred with forgiveness. Once again respected and well-nourished, the rural members of our body-politic assume their rightful place, as honored agents of the Central Intelligence Agency -- joyful emissaries of the Light of Tao (their rightful leader); while Conceptual Mind, appropriately humbled, finds his/her true calling as .... (?)

(For the unhappy version of the movie, just buy a copy of Dr. Zhou Xun's book.)

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