The Future Science and Culture Forum in Taiwan: Reviving Traditional Chinese Culture and Exploring Mankind's Mind and Spirit

PureInsight | March 22, 2004

[] Having learned that the upcoming Future Science and Culture Forum that will be held at the National Taiwan University, we interviewed Professor Hu Yu-Whuei, one of this event's organizers.

Identifiers: J = Journalist; H = Professor Hu.

J: Professor Hu, the first Future Science and Culture Congress was held at Cambridge University in the U.K., followed by two other Science and Culture Conferences held at the University of Toronto, Canada and Harvard University in Boston, U.S.A. These previous Future Science and Culture meetings were held at renowned universities in Western Countries. What is the significances of hosting the 4th one at the National Taiwan University in Taipei?

H: The main purpose of hosting this Future Science and Culture Forum is to promote introspection in our current society that is dominated by science. We have previously held these symposiums in Europe and North America because they are the originators of and centers for modern science and technology. After having held these meetings and beginning to see the problems and limitations of modern science, we wanted to consider how to find the correct path for the science of the future and how to overcome the problems that we face today.

Modern science completely ignores the spiritual aspect of human beings. Its research is mainly focused on physical matter. On the other hand, ancient Chinese civilization viewed things based on the concept that mind and matter are one. From how the ancient Chinese people diagnosed diseases and observed celestial bodies, we can see how they put that concept into actual practice. Viewing matters in such a way enabled the ancient Chinese people to obtain a more complete picture of the true situation of things. Therefore, one of the major themes of this upcoming Future Science and Culture Forum in Taiwan is to re-explore classical Chinese culture. We hope to use ancient Chinese culture as a starting point and see in which direction humankind's science should travel in the future. In other words, we would like to learn from our ancient Chinese culture. Since we will be talking about Chinese culture, we decided that it would be appropriate to host this symposium in a city where there is a concentrated Chinese population. This way, it will be easier for scholars and experts in this field to participate in it. That is why we decided to hold the meeting in Taiwan.

J: Judging from the announcement to call for articles to the Future Science and Culture Forum, one of the focal points of the meeting will be Chinese medical culture. Would you explain why the Chinese medical culture is chosen as a focal point of the conference?

H: Chinese culture is immensely unique and profound. There are very good reasons why we have included Chinese medicine as one of the focal points. Ancient Chinese physicians did not see a human body as an entity isolated from the surrounding environment. Instead, they regarded man as "a small universe" in itself that is closely interrelated with the external surroundings. Ancient Chinese medical theory can be traced back to the theory of yin and yang, the theory of the five elements, and the Book of Changes, which constituted the very essence of ancient Chinese culture. It emphasizes the close correlation between cultivation of morals (the spiritual aspect) and physical and emotional health (the physical aspect). It makes perfect sense, therefore, to illustrate the core Chinese scientific and cultural concept, that mind and matter are one, by exploring Chinese medical culture at this symposium.

R: With the spread of SARS and avian flu lately in China and around the world, people have been paying much attention to health-related issues. Could you talk briefly about the conference topics relating to traditional Chinese medicine?

H: With science having progressed to today's stage, human beings often feel that they can accomplish anything and overcome all kinds of diseases. In reality, though, that is not the case. For instance, the over-usage of antibiotics has caused the mutation of bacteria. When this type of problem surfaces, we neither know how to deal with it nor can we find effective ways to treat the cases. Traditional Chinese medicine not only sees the physical aspects of matter, but also conducts research on one's own natural immune functions. Hence, traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes the cultivation of one's mind/character and spirituality, and reduction of one's desires, thus allowing the whole body to achieve a harmonious equilibrium.

In the area of traditional Chinese medicine, this symposium will cover three major sections. The first section will deal with research on traditional Chinese medicine, which includes its origin and the development of traditional Chinese medical theories. The second section will deal with research on the human body's energy channels. While healing their patients, ancient Chinese medical doctors discovered, or, in other words, saw that energy channels exist in the human body. So they treated their patients via the patients' energy channels. For this conference, we have invited experts and scholars to discuss the existence and functions of energy channels in the human body. In addition to discussing the relationship between medicine and the human body from the point of view of traditional Chinese medicine, the third section will be looking at traditional Chinese medical culture, to discern if traditional Chinese medicine can help inspire modern science to find a new direction. Research on traditional Chinese medical culture is therefore one of the focus topics in this conference as well.

R: You have just talked about the research that traditional Chinese medicine has conducted in the area of healing illnesses. The second theme of the conference is spirituality and science, which also emphasizes the relationship between a person's physical and his emotional health and spiritual cultivation.

H: The theme of this symposium is to establish a bridge between culture, matter and mind. Matter refers to what human beings can observe, things that they can see and touch. But in reality, what people care about the most are their own bodies and how to maintain their health. We will use that as a starting point to explore the relationship between mind and matter. This theme includes areas such as spiritual cultivation and people's physical and emotional health, spiritual cultivation and functions in a human body, and research on reincarnation and near-death experiences.

I would like to explain a little more about the theme that I just mentioned. Many experts have already realized that one's physical health is largely based on one's emotional health, since the mind has been proven to be extremely powerful. Modern people have realized that people can't completely rely on modern medicine to maintain health, and that, taking various kinds of nutritional supplements is not sufficient to ensure health. In fact, scientific research has established that many health-related problems are linked to people's mental states. A few years back, the popularity of qigong exploded in China. After practicing qigong, many people became healthy and their illnesses disappeared. Some scientists began to pay attention to qigong. Why would practicing qigong improve one's health? What exactly is qigong's healing mechanism? Let's take a look at this from the aspect of spiritual cultivation. Although qigong requires physical movements, it also requires qigong practitioners to cultivate their mind/character. Then how can spiritual cultivation affect one's body? To understand this, we need to compare one's physical and mental improvement before and after cultivation. In addition, from the aspect of a human body's mechanics, we can compare the body's mechanics and functions between practitioners and non-practitioners.

We know that many people have developed supernormal abilities through qigong practice. For example, some qigong practitioners can see things without using their eyes, and some can even levitate. These are things that average people can't accomplish. We will discuss this in the conference. As a matter of a fact, many scientists in China and Taiwan have been exploring this issue, and we have invited scholars in this field to present their findings during the conference.

In addition, reincarnation and near-death experiences are two other aspects of research that are rarely brought up for discussion at an academic symposium. But the reality is that many experts and scholars have been conducting research in these two fields for quite some time, even though reincarnation and near-death experiences have not become topics of interest for mainstream scientists. When these two topics are brought into discussion, most of the time people just talk about individual cases. Actually, enough cases have been documented to conduct formal statistical analyses. At this conference we hope to foster better understanding on the results obtained from these two research topics. The existence of incarnation and near-death experience basically indicate that a human being has a soul (mind) that will continue to exist after the physical human body (matter) has perished. These two topics are therefore closely related to the main theme of this conference and worth our exploration.

J: It sounds like this conference hopes to find a way out for mankind as well as for the whole earth.

Hu: That is our hope. But we are just starting to do this. We need to start by conducting scientific research and putting our heads together. We have set very lofty goals for this meeting. We hope to think about humankind's future culture and science and look for a new direction, a better and correct direction. Obviously, these efforts will not end with the forum. The main purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportunity for scholars and experts to get together and discuss what to do next and how we can work toward a new direction.

After the scheduled presentations are completed, we will leave time for people to hold free discussions. This will be a rare and precious opportunity.

J: The Western scientific community has already noticed how one's mind influences one's health, as well as qigong's healing effects. Some members of the western medical community view Chinese medicine and qigong as having miraculous effects. Some scientists are doing research in this field, but they are still in the initial stages. Research in these fields is still considered quite cutting-edge. From your introduction, we can see that the symposium in Taiwan will hold in-depth discussions in these fields. It sounds like this is going to be an extremely valuable conference. I have one more question. How has the solicitation for papers for the symposium been coming along?

Hu: Many scholars and experts have been conducting research on traditional Chinese medicine for quite some time. We hope to publish their research and their intriguing clinical case studies at this conference. Therefore, we have invited researchers in relevant areas to participate in this conference and submit their papers. Another major topic of the congress is spiritual cultivation and supernormal abilities, and some scholars have performed many experiments in this field. We welcome these researchers to submit their results or their experimental designs. Even if the experiments haven't been completed, we still welcome their papers as well as they can provide inspiration for others and serve as references for future research.

I have yet to mention that another major topic for this conference is the universe and time-space. It is actually a very broad topic that encompasses astronomy, geology, ecology and prophecy, among others. It is very broad. As long as your research has to do with the universe, time-space, or the concept that mind and matter are one, you are welcome to submit your paper.

We can already see that the damage that humankind's technological advances have caused to the environment is almost irreversible. What should we do? We hope to point out the extent of this problem and have a group discussion on how to solve this problem. Besides using modern science to solve the problem, we should think about how we can improve the environment by improving our spirituality and mindset. If we don't improve our spirituality and mindset, we probably will never stop causing damage to nature and the ecological system, and even cause danger to our future generations. Therefore, research on preserving and protecting the earth is very necessary. I hereby also ask people to submit papers in this area.

J: Thank you very much for your thorough introduction to the Future Science and Culture Forum in Taiwan. Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

Hu: This is the first time that a Future Science and Culture Forum will be held in Taiwan. I hope that everyone who knows about this event will help spread the information to more people. This conference is not limited to scholars who have submitted their papers or have been invited to give speeches, or who are students or scholars in related fields. We welcome everyone who is interested in these topics to participate in this event. I also would like to add that Dr. Lee Si-Chen, the director of the School of Administration at the National Taiwan University who has been conducting academic research on the human body's supernormal abilities, has been invited to give a keynote address at this conference and share his latest research findings. We will not just have scholars from Taiwan at the meeting. We have also invited scholars from other countries so everyone can get together and explore the featured topics of the congress. It is guaranteed to be a uniquely informative and inspiring gathering. We hope that everyone will send information regarding this event to his/her colleagues and scholars in these related fields and invite them to join this event. Let us get together to participate in this wonderful meeting and work together to advance research in these fields. Thank you!

J: You mentioned that you have invited scholars from Taiwan and other parts of the world to participate in the conference. Are you also calling for papers from scholars and experts in these fields in Mainland China?

H: Of course! There are many dedicated and exceptional scholars in China who have been engaged in research in these fields. In fact, we have seen a lot of excellent papers published by scholars from Mainland China. We sincerely call for their contribution to the Future Science and Cultural Forum. If we all work together, we will be able to do a better job at exploring the science and culture of the future.

J: Dr. Hu, Thank you for the interview and giving us the opportunity to learn about this event.

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