Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: taiwan
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 13:26

Teaching a Common Pacific History: Morgan Tuimaleali'ifano

Professor Morgan Tuimaleali'ifano discusses how the teaching of history in Fiji has been decolonized, and how Taiwan and other Pacific nations can work together to create an alternative version of history which incorporates indigenous memory and stands apart from the colonial view of history.


Wednesday, 09 January 2013 15:28

The Width and Depth of the Ocean within Me: In Memory of Yves Raguin

In 2012, we celebrated the centenary of the birth of Father Yves Raguin, founder of the Taipei Ricci Institute. Born in November 1912, Father Raguin died in December 1998 at Tien Educational Center in Taipei. After having studied theology in Paris and Sinology at Harvard, Yves Raguin lived in China, Vietnam, The Philippines and, for most of his career, Taiwan. He was a prolific author, mainly but not solely on comparative spirituality, and also a lexicographer who for many years directed the Ricci Dictionary project – the largest Chinese –foreign language dictionary in the world – and a beloved spiritual director.


The connection between his centenary anniversary and Pacific studies may seem an odd one, but there are several reasons for associating the Pacific with Fr Raguin's life and spirituality. First, there is the creation of the Taipei Ricci Institute in 1964-1966: Fr Raguin made the Institute a place of encounter, research and creativity till he left its direction in 1996 – and it is because of fidelity to his inspiration that the Institute later on shifted its focus towards Pacific studies. Second, Fr Raguin himself was no stranger to the Pacific world. Not only did his long stays in Vietnam and Taiwan make him a man of the Asia Pacific, but he also directed spiritual retreats and gave courses in The Philippines, Canada or Papua New Guinea among other places.


The main connection between the celebration of his birth and Pacific studies is that Yves Raguin focused all of his life on the quest for resonance and encounters between the different spiritual experiences that humankind has engaged in – and the spiritual style he slowly developed has oceanic undertones; pondering over his experiences may help us integrate the melodies and resonances we are gathering these days into the polyphony of world spirituality. I still remember Yves Raguin telling me one day, shortly before his death, how much he had always desired to see Chinese spiritual resources "fully integrated into humankind's spiritual computer." Yves Raguin used a typewriter all his life and never browsed the Internet. He had only a vague understanding of what a computer was like, but knew well enough the point relevant for his metaphor: a computer was a machine processing the data entered into it as an integrated whole, in which connections could be drawn in all directions.


Yves Raguin always placed the virtue of attentiveness at the core of any spiritual adventure. In "Contemplation East and West" he writes:


Contemplation is not a means of attention towards things beyond this world but rather an attention to things as they are. All things possess within themselves a mystery, and the more knowledge we have of these things, the more we realize the depth of the mystery within them. (...) If I practice what is called in Confucianism, investigation of things ge wu , I will be facing a mystery of things and I will be taken in by a kind of contemplation. It is the concrete awareness of the essential nature of things which puts me in silence before the mystery of this same nature. It is this essential nature of reality that science cannot grasp. This deep inner attitude described by the two terms serenity and a quiet being together with all things, has always been what wise women and men have been searching for in all parts of the world."

Elsewhere he notes:

Prayer is nothing but a simple awareness that in the beginning can be very painful. (The soul) feels cutoff from her normal activity and so, from herself. This barely perceptible presence forces the soul into deep solitude. She has no felt support outside this presence that draws her attention.

It seems to me that the primal role given to the "attention to the mystery of things' in spiritual development is what anchors Yves Raguin's spirituality within a multifaceted tradition open to what the writer Romain Rolland, in his correspondence with Sigmund Freud, called the "Oceanic feeling." Through this expression he was trying to encapsulate a feeling of infinity that palpitates beyond all structured religious belief. Nowadays, Rolland's "Oceanic feeling" has become no more than a footnote in the history of religious psychology. Freud was not very appreciative: "How foreign to me are the worlds in which you move! Mystique is as closed to me as music" he wrote to Rolland – who replied," I can hardly believe that mysticism and music are foreign to you. I rather think that you are afraid of them, as you wish to keep the instrument of critical reason unblemished."

Going one step beyond Rolland, one may say that, for the one who through attentiveness enters into the mystery of things as they are, the presence of the ultimate mystery in the soul is like the triumphant sound of the waves - and this "like" means two things at once: first, it speaks of the universal character of spiritual experience; and secondly, it recognizes the fact that no comparison can account for the way this mystery makes itself present within the depths of man. What the Oceanic feeling helps us understand is that joy arises in our soul always as something nascent. The joy that comes from the light of the day within the darkness of our depths is sung and evoked by the movement of an ocean everlasting and yet nascent, by the rhythm of the waves engraving and erasing their writings on the sand with a finger trembling and yet assured. Eventually, the Oceanic feeling makes us glimpse at the mystery of the birth of the divine within the soul: a gift eternally offered – and always new.

As an example of Yves coming into contact with this "oceanic experience", let us look at this passage from his spiritual diary in February 1979:

My internal being was enlightened, and an intimate touch of softness was entering into me. It was like a tenderness that was invading and attracting me, but without uprooting me from my humaneness. On the contrary, it was like the constant realization within me of a new incarnation. (...) Departing from Paris on January 5, I have given retreats in Thailand and in Papua New Guinea. I am now in the Philippines and in a few weeks I will be again in Taiwan. I can only say 'thanks" for all the love shown to me by the Lord during this trip around the world started in June. Everything has become very simple. This love of the Lord asks simply from me to be myself so as to let him be himself within me.

The deceiving simplicity of this paragraph should not hide the depth of meaning it opens: a given spiritual tradition – here, the western mystical tradition, with undertones coming from St Bernard, Meister Eckardt and St Ignatius - becomes somehow "globalized' by an operation of "rarefaction" or "distillation" that connects it not only to so-called Eastern spiritualities but to spiritual experiences as lived in many tongues, many customs and many settings. The experience here related is about the realization of what one is really called to be, in one's given tradition and calling, so as to let one's particularity become the creative humus in which other people will learn to similarly recognize what they are themselves called to be. Universality is not an "essence", but rather a process, awakened by the creative fidelity to what I come from and to what I am called to be. The ocean on which Yves Raguin tirelessly traveled was certainly that of the infinity of god – emptiness and plenitude – dwelling within our limited self; it was at the same time the ocean of the astounding variety of our human spiritual experiences, scattered like islands among the Sea of Unknowing. In his view, these two immensities were revealed and illuminated by one another. His writings and his example still encourage us to explore both the width and the depth of the Ocean that gave us birth and carries us beyond even our dreams.

Excerpt of a speech pronounced during the 2012 International Austronesian Conference in Taipei, November 27th


Tuesday, 08 January 2013 17:36

Taiwan's Pacific: Educational Links and Sustainable Fisheries

Professor Paul D'Arcy talks about the role for Taiwan in the Pacific - particularly the leading role it has taken in listening to the Pacific in the last few years, (with respect to the ban on the practice of finning sharks amongst other initiatives). He goes  on to outline areas in which Taiwan could continue to show leadership in the region, especially in regard to education and sustainable fishing:


Tuesday, 08 January 2013 13:47

Knocking on the door of Taiwan's entertainment industry

This is the first vlog in a series in which Daniel Pagan Murphy talks about his quest for Mandopop fame, in which he documents his experience singing on TV shows in Taiwan, as well as going over the highs and lows and offering some tips to people who aspire to break into the entertainment industry.

You can follow Daniel's progress on his facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/DanielLiLiDaNian

On youtube: http://www.youtube.com/dannypamu

Or on twitter: https://twitter.com/dannypamu

Photo: Daniel (right) with fellow wannabe Mandopop star Justin (left) 


Wednesday, 02 January 2013 16:14

The 2012 4th Life Sustainability Awards Ceremony and Awardees

This year saw the 4th Life Sustainability Awards ceremony take place at the 2012 International Austronesian Conference in Taipei. The awards celebrate individuals' actions and passions for nurturing and protecting cultural, spiritual and environmental sustainability. This years setting award setting was particularly fitting, as it was the first occasion that a non-Taiwanese has received the award. Papa Mape, a Tahitian and Lifok 'Oteng, an indigenous Taiwanese, both were present at the conference to receive their awards. Their presence together on stage further emphasised and reflected conference's key theme, of strengthening ties and realising connections between Taiwanese and Pacific culture.

The first awardee, and the first non-Taiwanese to receive this award, was Papa Mape, an 85 year old fisherman and village elder of Mo'orea, Tahiti, who through sharing his traditional knowledge of the ocean has opened up doors for scientists as well as his whole community. Traditional knowledge is sacred in Tahiti, only passed down to family members and done so orally. Yet with the future of the environment unknown and thus a growing need to better understand it, Mape appreciates the value of sharing his traditional knowledge with Western scientific knowledge of environmental resource management. As a key example of tradition working with science, in 2011 the National Geographic Magazine featured his inspiring story. What drives Papa Mape to share his knowledge with scientists however, is for the young and future generations of Tahitians, as in doing so cultural and environmental sustainability alike are greater maintained.

Lifok 'Oteng, is an 80 year old Amis diarist, historian and musician from the Yiwan tribe near Taidong. Suffering paralysis when he was 14, he spent many proceeding years bed-ridden, using his time to self-study as well as learn musical instruments and languages. With greater mobility from age 27, 'Oteng began putting his great ability with language and communication to use, through visiting village elders from tribes and compiling their culture and histories. His diary, which he has consistently maintained for 60 years is furthermore a documentation of his interactions with cultures and histories. 'Oteng's drive and interest in culture has also seen him working as a Japanese translator, research assistant and field researcher. He is a pioneer and leading figure in his own Amis tribes' cultural history, and through his efforts of sustaining culture through documentation, now he himself is an important part of own culture's history.

Officially recognising this year's awardees and previous recipients is but a small token of appreciation in the name of sustaining culture, spirituality and the environment. The awardees tireless work and drive throughout their lives to do so, is a reminder and reflection of the importance and value of maintaining these forms of sustainability, for their communities and all of us alike.


Wednesday, 02 January 2013 16:01

Review: Writings that Weave Waves

Living in today's ever-changing globalised world is threatening traditional cultural practices and identity. The history of the Taiwanese indigenous peoples is evidence of this with the island's history marked by previous Chinese and Japanese rule and today, more generally, the rule of modernity. Thus, for the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, although they primarily live in smaller, rural areas, maintaining a strong sense of cultural belonging, identity is a challenge. Cerise Phiv's documentary Writings that Weave Waves: East Formosans and the Pacific World explores this challenge, glimpsing into the lives and perspectives of several indigenous Taiwanese individuals living in a changing world and their relationship with the indigenous way of life of their ancestors.


Monday, 31 December 2012 15:49

No or Know: Orchid Island, Aboriginal Resistance and Subjectivity

In this video interview by Christophe Maziere, famous aborigine writer Topas Tamapima discusses a variety of topics related to the aborigines of Orchid Island and the identity issues they face.


Friday, 28 December 2012 15:56

The Sunken and Forbidden Islands

There are many islands strewn across the Pacific, they withdrew from the world, and hoped never to be found. The footsteps of the Han quietly snuck up upon them however, their persuasive words laced with the rhetoric of modernity and development. From Orchid Island to Yap, what does the trajectory of these footprints tell us?


Tuesday, 18 December 2012 17:31

Poetry: Learn New Words with Song

Wang Xiong was born in July, 1985 in Taipei, Taiwan, where he still lives with his two cats. He graduated from the Department of Chinese Literature and dropped out of the Master's Program of the Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature, he is currently working in journalism. He has previously been awarded National Taiwan University Prize for Modern Verse.This poem won the Modern Poetry Judge's Award of the 34th United Daily News Literature Prize.

Published in
Focus: Poetry and Song

Wednesday, 12 December 2012 15:34

Long Live Crisis!

In January 2004, a new monthly appeared on the shelves of Taiwan's bookshops: Renlai proclaimed on its front cover: '危機萬歲!" (Long live crisis!) Let's face it: the layout was not very professional, and it was something more approaching an experiment, lacking an experienced team or serious distributing channels. Nobody around us would have placed a bet that 99 issues later, this maverick publication would still be around... The readers are to be credited first for their faithfulness and resilience. The efforts of the team that has produced and distributed Renlai every month too must receive some credit, a team that believes more than ever in the relevance and mission of our publication in contemporary Taiwan.

By entitling our first issue '危機萬歲!" (Long love crisis!), we were, I fear, predicting our own destiny: it is through crises and risks that we have navigated our way amidst stormy seas, always in the face of an uncertain financial future and a market in which it is most difficult to assert our values and outlook. We found joy and inspiration in these challenges, however. Our first issue extolled the virtues of crises: it is in a state of crisis that we access the core of our beliefs, we learn resilience, we are taught what it means to bet on hope against all hope, we make our life-style simpler, we are pushed to examine ourselves, we are trained in the virtues of solidarity and cohesion. This is exactly what happened to us, and what we are still experiencing from day to day. However, it has to be said that the title of our first issue still seems very relevant for the Taiwan of today? The challenges that Taiwan experienced in 2003-2004 are not exactly akin to those we are facing at the moment, but we are still called to examine our values and life-style, there is still the call to participate in national debate about what kind of society we want to build – and Renlai is still a tool and a voice for fostering just such a debate.


A crisis is often a gateway to innovation and Renlai will indeed need to be inventive if it wants to survive. We have changed a lot in the course of these 100 issues, but we will have to change even more on the road ahead. Therefore this issue is also aimed at soliciting your advice, your input, so as to know better what kind of publication you would enjoy, what kind of debates you would like us to foster, what format or new technology would you like us to embrace. We hope that the future can be forged together with you the readers– as we experience together the reflection and innovation that crises inspire. In a way Renlai's changing format can be seen as a litmus test for Taiwan's cultural climate and the strength of civil society here.

An anniversary is always an opportunity for thanksgiving. This issue will be marked with our gratitude. We give thanks to all our readers for their support and their continued feedback. Thanks for telling us what you expect from us, thanks for being demanding of us, and pushing us to give our best. Thanks to all the members of the Renlai team for the mutual support, the sharing, the dreams and the common effort. We keep in our heart those who had to leave us in the course of these last nine years, and we are very much thankful for the wonderful contribution that each of them has made. The crises may still loom on the horizon but we feel still ready to say: "危機萬萬歲! (Long live crisis!)


Wednesday, 07 November 2012 15:04

"There's nothing wrong with my child"

Working with mentally disabled children in Taiwan then and now.

Father Giuseppe Didone was born in a small town near Venice in Italy in 1940, he joined the Camillians at the age of 10, and was ordained in 1964. In 1965 he came to Taiwan, and later, in 1983 he founded a centre for intellectually challenged children, in 1987 he set up a similar centre in Yilan.

In this video he talks about his experience in Taiwan struggling to convince parents to overcome the stigma attached to mentally disabled children and get help for children in dire need of it, he also reflects on a shift in attitude from when he founded the school in the 1980s to the present day:


(Press the subtitle icon for English subtitles).

Readers in Mainland China can watch here)

Video translated and subtitled by Conor Stuart


Friday, 02 November 2012 18:25

Lu Xiaoyun: International Exchange and Aboriginal Representations

I belong to the Paiwan tribe, we live in a tribal village in Pingtung county. My indigenous name is Limuasan, which I inherited from my vuvu (female ancestor). Since I wasn’t raised in the village, I didn’t always have a strong sense of ethnic identity. I also suffered racism from my schoolmates during my elementary school years, so I’ve always felt rather negative about my ethnic identity. It wasn’t until I met several indigenous friends in high school that I regained a more positive view of my ethnicity. This changed even more when I entered college and participated in the Taluan university society. The Taluan Society is a society for indigenous people. We organize trips to aboriginal villages to engage in community service there, which in turn enables us to learn more about aboriginal culture. These experiences made a deep impression on me and I can say now that I am proud to be a Taiwanese aboriginal person.


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