Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eating meat is eating human beings?

Eating meat is eating human beings?

Chinese characters are combinations of symbols (pictographic: drawing), sounds (phono-semantic: shape and sound) and meanings (ideographic: ideology and concept). Of the three, what makes the characters stand out most visually interesting is the symbolic and artistic nature.

Take the word 肉(“rou”, meat / flesh) for example, the special thing about this word is how it's constructed from. There seems to be two 人(“ren”, man / human being) inside the character 门(“men”, door). Two men inside a door is meat? What does that mean?

The way I would interpret the character 肉(“rou”, meat) is quite similar but with a simple twist. My idea was inspired by the concept of universal love. You shall see why below:

(“ren”, man / human being): The character looks like a man walking with two legs.
(“men”, door): The character itself resembles a door with hinge.
(“nei”, inside): A man inside a door means 'inside', quite graphical too.
(“rou”, meat / flesh): There is actually a 'human being' (the lower character 人) hidden 'inside' meat.

This is the conclusion: There is a human being inside meat. If you eat meat, you eat human beings. How do we come to comprehend this? This simple conclusion is in line with the concept of reincarnation, that all living beings keep incarnating to other living forms depending on how well (or how bad) they've contributed during their life time.

What we are really eating? This piece of chicken could have been a grandmother of your friends in previous lives. That piece of red meat (cow) could have been your own grandfather who passed away many years ago. Killing and eating each others have created deep hatred and curses. No wonder the world is full of vengeance wars of all kinds.

1. This is one perspective to look at why eating meat is wrong. If you find the idea comfortable and useful, you can help to spread the message or even translate it to your own language for a good cause.
2. The concept of 肉(“rou”, meat / flesh; 'Human beings' are 'inside' meat) includes beef, chicken, turkeys, pork, pigs, chicken eggs, cows, fish, lobsters, crabs, horses, sheep, dogs, cats, cattle, goats, swines, mules, birds, donkeys, rabbits, leopards, giant pandas, owls, pigeons, crayfish, octopus, deers, eagles, hawks, ostriches, penguins, gooses, salmon, tuna, eels, snakes, snails, frogs, turtles, ducks, calves, steaks, puppies, kittens, ponies and so on.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Yin, Yang, Qi and their roots

The other day I was sorting my emails out and noticed this inquiry from a reader of the blog and my reply to the individual. I think it can be an interesting reading.

Message: I read with interest your website info and would like to know:

Question: The principles of yin, yang, qi - do they have their roots in Chinese (Taoist or Buddhist) beliefs?

I will be grateful if you can answer my query. Thank you.

For that I wrote the following as a brief introduction of how yin, yang and qi came around:


Thank you so much for your interest in TCM. I've always enjoyed sharing TCM knowledge. To answer your question:

The terms 阴(yin, facing the moon), 阳(yang, facing the sun) and 气(qi, air energy movement above grains) have many implied meanings. Different fields take those terms for different definitions. At first, yang and yin meant only if a place faces the sun or not, respectively. The place that faces the sun is yang and the one not is yin. It was the fundamental understanding of nature. It's within the theory of duality of ancient Chinese philosophy. Subsequently, people have come to realize, through living, practice and observation of daily natural phenomenon, that the concept of yin and yang exists in all things. A simple example that applies to TCM can be: A fresh flush face is yang whereas a pale exhaustive face is yin.

The theory of yin and yang in TCM includes how these two components oppose each other, how they depend on each other to reach a balance, how they wax and wane and how one transforms to the other. TCM physicians use theory as such to understand the nature of diseases.

An ancient philosophical book, 周易 (Zhou Yi; Zhou: Dynasty Zhou, BC 1066 - BC 256; Yi: A word forming from the upper日(Ri, the sun, yang energy) and the lower 月(Yue, the moon, yin fluid), meaning ‘change’), considers the transformation of yin (night time, for example) and yang (day time, for example) into each other as the 'basic law in the universe'. This book dates back to the time mentioned as in Dynasty Zhou in the north-eastern part of China (Now nearby Shandong province). Buddha came to enlightenment in northern India at a time later than that. Therefore, yin and yang cannot come from Buddhism.

"Zhou Yi" is a book on the law of the universe, which is also called "Dao" (Direct Mandarin PinYin pronunciation) or "Tao" (Cantonese pronunciation, more known to the western and English world). Indeed, the idea of yin and yang can be found in the book. As a matter of fact, many TCM scholars these days consider Zhou Yi as the ultimate root of where TCM developed from, before which the book 皇帝内经 (Huang Di Nei Jing; Yellow-Emperor-Inside-Sutra; The Yellow Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine, the most ancient TCM publication ever preserved) appeared back in 2,400 years ago...

So I'd agree to the saying the concept of yin and yang originally came from Taoism (Dao, what Zhou Yi is based on). But then again there are nowadays so many denominations of Taoism, some of which may have lost the original constituents of Dao.

As for the concept of qi in TCM, the first book that described this term is "The Yellow Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine". The term qi, widely translated as energy, is also the unseen energy flows inside human body meridians, where acupuncture is based on.

Therefore the concept of qi neither originated from Buddhism nor Taoism.

Also mind I if correct your question, Buddhism isn't a Chinese belief, it's an understanding and practise that explains, as many believe, the finest and complete understanding of the universe. It was the teaching of Buddha, once prince Siddharta Gautama of a small country in northern India. Taoism, derived from the book Zhou Yi, author unknown. Confucius, in his later years, came across this book and pondered upon it and wrote ten chapters to explain this mysterious book of universe and proclaimed “If only I had known this book 10 years earlier, I would then have more time to understand the universe.” or something similar to that.

I hope this helps in understanding a little about the origin of yin, yang and qi. Different people, depending of their reading levels, may have different understandings. Please feel free to let me know if my views contradict with someone else's or if I have made a mistake.

Thank you so much for your interest in TCM. I deeply believe constituents of TCM such as: Qigong (The practise of Qi and energy with exercise or meditation), proper living lifestyle in tune with nature, proper diet in line with humanity, emotional peace and herbal remedy can help to achieve a peaceful world.

Thank you,

John Lew

1) The relationship of Yin Yang fish and eight 卦 (Gua, trigrams, as it's called in the western worlds). The eight Gua consists of different combinations of yin and yang as it changes from one to another.
2) 周易, Zhou Yi, more known as "I Ching" in the west.
3) The characters of 日(Ri, sun) and 月(Yue, moon), and how they were formed from symbolic looks of the actual bodies.
4) 皇帝内经, Huang Di Nei Jing, "The Yellow Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine". This book is the bible of TCM. There are a few different translations in English name.
5) The character 气(Simplified version) and 氣(Original and complicated version). Three waves of air energy on top of and generated by 米(Mi, grain-based rice). It basically means the energy of the body is derived from diet of grain-based rices or cereals.
6) First sermon of Gautama Buddha at the Deer Park.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Open source Openmoko phone

July 4th, 2008 came a phone so unique it may revolutionize the mobile phone industry. Openmoko Neo FreeRunner is a completely open source mobile phone, including the mobile Linux platform and application software, and as such is sold "unlocked" and can be used with any GSM network.

There are currently three voices in the world of open platform for handphones. The Openmoko Neo FreeRunner is ahead of the other two (the LiMo Foundation and the Open Handset Alliance) in terms of rolling out handsets in the actual world market.

About the phone:
Operating the device seems not difficult because it has built-in core software that’s meant for recording contacts, dialing, and SMS. Neo FreeRunner is going to be available in two versions – 900MHz and 850MHz models.

Aside from that, it has 128MB WSDRAM and 256MB NAND flash memory. Making it more competitive is the 2.8-inch VGA touch screen having 480 x 640 resolution. Yes, anything you want done can be achieved with a touch of finger. Connectivity available is 802.11 b/g, AGPS, and GPRS 2.5G. Bluetooth is also provided.

Open source everything:
Openmoko hopes that by using open source software other developers can also make something unique out of the Neo FreeRunner handset.

Open source hardware:
Openmoko has made available downloadable Pro-Engineer format CAD files under a Creative Commons license for the developer community. It’ll be interesting to see how the developer community adapts the insides of FreeRunner to various form factors and application areas.

Open source software:
The Openmoko Neo FreeRunner comes equipped with a GNU/Linux OS base, and a core system for dialing, SMS and recording contacts. It currently does not include a camera, but it wouldn't surprise us if it is somehow modified into one. In about a month, a brand new software suite will be released that will provide location-based applications.

The FreeRunner can be a good training ground for the Linux community to adapt their codes/programs from desktop to this phone. So if you want to move beyond the narrow confines of the Windows Mobile operating system, or Nokia's Symbian OS doesn't float your boat, you might want to try this one out.

Discussion of specifications:
The FreeRunner will come in two versions at first: 850MHz or 900MHz Tri-band GSM. It packs in 128MB WSDRAM and 256MB NAND of flash memory, and includes a 2.8-inch VGA touch screen (at 480 x 640), Wi-Fi at 802.1 1b/g, AGPS, and GPRS 2.5G. And it of course has Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity, plus a couple of 3-axis motion sensors.

Upgrading and customization of the phone:
Users would have to become familiar with an apt-based (i.e. Debian, a Linux OS) Linux distribution. Programs and customization can be chosen over a device manager that links to a few sites, either OpenMoKo-related or certified sites. This in turn will definitely boost the sales of network operators’ bandwidth.

Endless possibilities:
The phone comes as a basic one. Much of the additional functionality is still in the developer stage and Linux skills are required to get many of them to work. At present new versions of the firmware are posted almost every day on the Openmoko web site. This is to say initial users are most likely to be open source / Linux geeks. Openmoko will eventually release a consumer version with fully functional, stable software.

One of the interesting things about this phone, according to Shiroh, an executive of the company, is “what people will do with this phone. What will people write in the open source community that I can't even imagine? It's the things that are completely unexpected that I'm really looking forward to."

So, what do you think are the exciting things we can do with the phone?
1) Walkie-talkie with GPS tracking?
2) Guitar tuner?
3) GPS assistant?
4) Add a camera (this is possible with hardware openness) and have conference call via GSM or WIFI?
5) Add an infra-red (again, possible) and have gyro-sensed remote control?
6) Digital drum machine? It’s all touchpad anyway. Let's throw in MIDI interface too.
7) Act as interface control of WII?
8) Many more unthinkable ideas?... :@)

Openmoko’s Neo FreeRunner phone can be availed at a retail price of USD399.

More info at:
LiMo Foundation:
Open Handset Alliance (Google Android):

1. Click on the pictures for original resolution of 480x640 VGA size.
2. Pictures are from (Chinese language) and