Forum QuestionsCategory: Articles / Essays“TUITION OR DONATION”
Administrator Staff asked 7 months ago


In the Northern Jiangxi-Fujian region it was possible during the first decades of the nineteenth century (1810-) to pay less money in a ceremony that did not involve the blood covenant and consequently receive a limited amount of ritual, lore and knowledge.

The money paid was used to defray to the costs, of the ritual that accompanied the “initiation” and transfer of lore, and served more importantly to confirm the teacher-pupil tie.  It also was a type of income, but should not be reduced to this latter function.

Apart from serving as payment for the transfer of knowledge, the payment of a fee should also be seen as a gift that served to create a connection between the donor and the recipient.

Knowledge was something that one possessed, but that did not require analytical understanding.  It functioned as a ritual object, in the common sense, having primarily a behavorial and exterior aspect.  In essence the crucial point was not a prohibition on an analytical understanding, as the way to insight, but rather the absence of such a requirement, (as in Shaolin Chan-Zen).

Indeed, the actual practice of the 1800 ancestors (prior) and onward indicates that the amount of knowledge transmitted depended entirely on the amount of money people were prepared to pay.

Although traditional kungfu was ritualized in three stages; “physical, mental and spirit”, mostly the latter remains silent, not dead, comtemporarily”. Oral transmission and palladia remain essential to validate the power of traditional art today.

In the final analysis the crucial point, by historical evidence, remained the possession of knowledge, rather than the understanding or transmission of its meaning. The transmission thereof was revealed in stages, of initiation and not without payment.

In the traditional sense, transmission of only the basic kungfu without the cultural rituals enacting the landscape of daily life and death, ancestral heritage, messianic/spiritual paradigm and fall from grace finalized, in the blood covenant ceremony, of a Pai is incomplete. Without the latter, the brother-friend (not the friend-brother)  is not consummated, and the practicer could not expect to receive the secret-sacred (highest) teaching. This is unspoken today by those who have received it (mainly).

In Chinese culture one always pay for rituals, whether Buddhist blessings or Daoist good fortune. These payments are conceived as voluntary gifts rather than instrumental payments. A Ritualist is never hired, but always invited. Someone who was invested (not divested) (by his master) in a classical tradition was expected to present a wide range of gifts (including substantial money or its equivalents) to his teacher (as a transmitter of knowledge and texts).

Copyright Roger D. Hagood 1998