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October 17, 2004



Living in Vancouver, I see a lot of Chinese people every day. When I was having lunch in a Chinese restaurant, I found an interesting idea about the similarity of Chinese dishes and Chinese characters. Both of them have numerous kinds. There are about ten thousand Chinese characters and ordinary Chinese restaurants have about three or four hundred kinds of dishes. But they are all made of a combination of some parts. For instance, most Chinese characters are constructed from two to four character parts. So, if they had just 20 kinds of character parts, they can get 20+20x20+20x20x20=8,420 character combinatioins. The actual Chinese characters are more complex, but this is the principle of Chinese methodology. Also in Chinese dishes this same method is used. The combination of meat (pork, beef, chicken, lamb, or fish), vegetables, sauce, and cooking type (to fry, to boil, to barbecue, and to shred) makes hundreds of dishes.


Formal Names of 70 Successive Generations of Shaolin Temple MonksTranslation by Kong Shiu Loon嵩山少林寺曹洞正宗傳續七十字輩訣江紹倫譯Blessed wisdom inpsires self-awareness福慧智子覺Fulfillment follows ready insight了本圓可悟Talents and saints generally bear our names周洪普廣宗Virtue was broadly cherished by our ancestors道慶同玄祖Tranquility and truthfulness sustain life as the sea清靜真如海Solitude endured inculcates pure personal quality湛寂淳貞素Righteous deeds evoke eternal succession德行永延恆Agility keeps bodies in sound and strong stakes妙體常堅固Clear minds enlighten deep understanding心朗照幽深Shining characters ensure signal accomplishments性明鑒崇祚Loyalty and justice exalt true happiness忠正善禧祥Singular wills are sources of lasting charity謹志原濟度Snow Pavilion exemplifies the guiding light雪庭為導師Leading all on the path to nirvana引汝歸鉉路Note: Every Chinese has an identity marked by two sources (doors), his family and his teacher (or school). 家門與師門. For example, I am a Kong and a Wahyanite, someone else may be a Chen and a Princetonian. Monks sever their relations with their families when they 出家. They are also theoretically equal with their mentors. So, their names are derived from a succession of names marking their temple origin. The 70 successive formal names of Shaolin was established by the head monk of the Yuen Dynasty, Snow Pavilion 雪庭. Each of the 70 Chinese words forms a part of a name for a monk, and all other monks of his generation. Altogether, the 70 words are grouped in verses of 5 words each, bearing meanings representing the wishes of the originator.

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