the fourth space

those spaces in between life, thinking, the physical world, and humanity

On Continuity of Being

“In the Eastern Asian traditions, influenced by Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, the world, the cosmos, is conceived of as an open system, forever expanding in unceasing transformation; and the self is perceived as a dynamic, holistic, open system in the continuity of being (Tu, 1985).  As Tu (1985) describes, human beings, trees, rocks, mountains, rivers, and Heaven are perceived as integral connected parts of the continuity of being.  From such an organic cosmic vantage point nothing is perceived as totally fixed.

The Chinese way of perceiving reality and sensing the world is manifested in traditional Chinese painting. As Tu (1985) says of the Chinese painter Tao Chi (1641-1717), mountains flow like rivers and therefore the proper way of looking at mountains is to see them as ocean waves frozen in time.  From a traditional Chinese worldview, apparently permanent objects like rocks and mountains are not static objects but rather dynamic processes with a particular energy and matter configuration.  Traditional Chinese paintings, drawn on hand scrolls, are one of the most familiar expressions of this flowing sense of continuity of being. These paintings, when appreciate, are unrolled slowly from right to left with a series of related scenes appearing.  As Zhuang and Nie (2000) explain, the viewer seems to be riding on a vehicle, perhaps a boat, appreciating the landscape as it slowly unfolds.”


The Sage Handbook of Curriculum, chapter 26 p. 529

Tu, W. (1985). Confucian thought: Selfhood as a creative transformation. Albany: State University of New York Press.



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This entry was posted on March 5, 2013 by .
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