“Finding the most suitable spiritual path”: Taipei’s new age store

by on Sunday, 01 July 2012 4913 hits Comments
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Books, crystals, tarot cards, books, statues, therapeutic oils, more books, Tibetan Thangkas and pyramids. And then some more books. And plenty of CDs too.

Taipei’s Making Life Buddhist New Age (佛化人生新時代) store is snuggled six stories above the reverberating roar of Roosevelt Road, a short walk from National Taiwan University. Trading since 1984, the shop’s goal has been to help people “attain a state of equilibrium in body, mind and spirit”. As you will see in these photos, the store stocks a smorgasbord of books and accouterments that the public can purchase as part of their religious, spiritual or psychological development and practice. Judging from my recent regular visits, the store is never short of eager patrons.

Hailing from the West but drawing on sacred ideas from across the world and throughout time, the ‘new age’ denotes a field of activities so diverse (and often contradictory) that it may seem pointless to lump them together. Yoga, aromatherapy, crystals, positive psychology, organic agriculture, alienology, meditation and any other number of techniques and technologies can be included in (or excluded from) the ‘new age’. That a store such as the Making Life Buddhist New Age store can sell these products (alongside more orthodox Chinese, Taiwanese and Tibetan Buddhist commentaries, texts and icons) indicates just how eclectic, and possibly influential, the ‘new age’ in Taiwan has become.

While a small number of books were translated into Chinese in the 1970s and early 1980s, the ‘new age’ scene in Taiwan really developed after martial law was lifted in 1987. Primarily consisting of translations in its early days, the Taiwanese ‘new age’ scene has grown to include a number of local authors penning original works. Nevertheless, authors first translated in the scene’s nascency such as Krishnamurti (the Indian born philosopher), Osho (the controversial Indian guru once known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) and Jane Roberts (the American medium for the entity Seth) continue to line shelves. And not just in the Making Life Buddhist New Age store – mainstream bookstores also devote significant space to these authors. While the category ‘new age’ (新時代) is still frequently used in Taiwan, ‘body, mind and spirit’ (身心靈) is now also used by publishers, merchants and teachers to reflect the holistic nature of the ideas and activities that they peddle.

As the photos here indicate, the ‘new age’ in Taiwan has a feel of its own. In addition to the vast number of Western translations and increasingly common local tomes, a number of Japanese translations can also be found in the voluminous stacks that crowd the shop.

The store’s manager Miss He Shuben (何淑本) welcomes shoppers with a cup of tea or water, warmly inviting each “handsome guy” (帥哥) and “beautiful lady” (美女) to take their time and enjoy the freedom of the store. I trust these photos convey that sense to you.

From the other side of Roosevelt Road you can see the yellow sign saying 新時代廣場     身心靈學院 (New Age Forum - Body Mind and Spirit Institute) above the decaying blue sign for 佛化人生 (Make Life Buddhist)

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The store has a range of essences, oils and balms available for purchase

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A handy guide to locating your chakras

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A range of Buddhist statues and images are strewn throughout the store

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A striking collection of Aura Soma oils and essences line the wall and these are used as part of a colour-based self-discovery system

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A miniature Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheel in front of some Thangkas

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Crystals in a variety of sizes colours and mineral compositions are for sale. Some crystals even have USB connections

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 Customers are encouraged to make themselves at home and browse the vast offerings of books

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Upcoming workshops are advertised in the foyer. Recent workshops have included awakening your light body and advanced individual astrology or theosophical teachings on Agartha (a supposed city at the core of the earth) and the teachings of Seth

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Buddhist amulets


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Polished crystals

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Pyramids of various sizes are perched throughout the store

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Books are piled in any available space. Browsing can be both time consuming and rewarding. For those taking the store’s advice and “Finding the most suitable spiritual path” this is not a place to visit in a rush

 

Photos by Paul Farrelly and Cerise Phiv

Text by Paul Farrelly

Edited by Witold Chudy and Daniel Pagan Murphy

Last modified on Thursday, 17 September 2015 14:03
Paul Farrelly (范寶文)

Paul is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University in Canberra. His primary research interests are new religious movements and religious innovation in China and Taiwan.

Website: twitter.com/paul_farrelly

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