Ancient stories
 
     

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Is-ness

The Science of the Essence is concerned with the is-ness of things. This applies to all aspects of life, not just taijiquan. If we consider stories, te is easy to understand.


Arabian Nights

The Arabian Nights story is about a lady who must beguile a deranged Sultan with stories every night for 40 days in order to escape execution:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Arabian-Nights-Alan-Bates/dp/B002GBHU40/
It is the classic treatise on storytelling.


Norse & Greek mythology

Similarly, Norse and Greek legends display equivalent storytelling skills and actively teach the reader about cunning, resolve and ingenuity. Rarely does the macho, tough guy prevail.
It is the everyday hero - possessing no special power - who wins the day by using his wit.
See:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1787534618/  (Listen to the audio sample? Does it make you curious?)
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1408886812/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0241380367
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0718188721/


Disappointing

So, in everyday context, Sifu Waller and Rachel watch Netflix, movies and DVD box sets and seldom find stories that are well told.


Star Wars

Star Wars movies from Return of the Jedi onwards have been badly written and badly told. Luke Skywalker learning from Yoda and learning that Vader was his father is spellbinding.
But later when Leia turns out to be Luke's sister, the story pratfalls. This is why the latest Star Wars movies are lousy...


Star Wars solution?

If George Lucas/Disney had read the Classic books on storytelling they would have remembered what makes a story work.
For in the Ancient World, a bad story attracts no audience and people wanted to be intrigued, educated and excited. A storyteller knew that skill was required, often on pain of death.


Lessons

Ancient stories teach lessons that are crucial to survival in a dangerous world and a competitive society. All cultures and religions have conveyed their teachings through stories.
In the Krishnamurti/Bruce lee inspired movie The Silent Flute much of the plot stems from Islamic stories.


Empty stories

When a story offers no lesson, what purpose/function ('te') does it serve?
Bereft of purpose, a story is akin to the old serial movies; where the sole aim of each movie was merely to perpetuate the plot.
Like a dog chasing it's own tail... Much of what is shown on TV is like this. Glorified gossip and no substance.


Morals


Stories also teach us how to behave properly. We learn the consequences of greed, selfishness and poor judgement without having to make the mistakes ourselves. We can learn and grow.
In an illiterate world, stories were once a necessary method of schooling
.


Examples


According to Maximum Brainpower, humans learn from examples and incidents. We remember an event and what took place. We extrapolate meaning.
Usually examples are more memorable than simple facts and figures.



Short stories

In the short story collection Beyond Lies the Wub, Philip K Dick maintained that a short story offered no scope to develop characters, so the focus must be upon a new idea/message/lesson.


A journey


Ancient stories often involved the protagonist undertaking an arduous journey of discovery. The journey could be a physical one or spiritual. The purpose of the journey was change.
Indeed, the significance and success of a journey was measured by how much the individual had changed over the course of their adventure.


Hero?


In modern time the word 'hero' is used in all manner of ways; many of which seem far removed from the original meaning of the word.
For example in Arabian Nights, the heroine is quite clearly Scheherazade - she displays courage, fortitude and incredible creativity throughout the story.



Aesop, Ireland and elsewhere

Aesop's fables, Brer Rabbit and the fairy stories of Ireland are well known examples of strange stories that teach lessons. The stories of Asia teach other lessons. Lessons that are unique to those places.
In Malaysia, The Little Mouse Deer is a popular character; a small mammal that must use it's cunning to outwit predators. The Funny Little Woman is a popular Japanese folktale.


Wudang
magic?

Taoism and Taijiquan were the source of many stories for thousands of years and hence there are books with such titles as Alchemists, Mediums, and Magicians: Stories of Taoist Mystics.
Countless Hong Kong cinema films depict taijiquan as magical. Before cinema the Chinese produced the world's first comic books; hyperbolic, improbable examples of Taoist magic and kung fu skill.
The secrets of Wudang remained a mystery for millennia, so people made up stories...


Taoism & The Tai Chi Classics

The Way of Chuang Tzu is filled with stories. Many of which do not make sense. This is deliberate; for it serves to illustrate the limitations of thought and language
.
The Tai Chi Classics started life not as stories, but as songs.


Memorable

Stories have always been an effective teaching tool because a good story is memorable, and can be re-told. Again and again...
Often the lessons are deep and take time to understand.


Page created 18 April 2018
Last updated 12 April 2019