Extract from This Is Your Quest – Chapter 7 – Page 100:
“The idea of building huge temples and monuments was to instill the idea that the rulers were of a different class than the average man. The other way the rulers imposed their authority upon the rest was to make up stories/narrative in order to make the people believe that men were fashioned from clay and created for one purpose only: to serve the Gods and Sons of Gods living on Earth (i.e. Kings and Emperors) by supplying them with food, drink & shelter (i.e. palaces) so that they may have time for their divine activities spent mainly towards the preservation of their own glory & authority. The ultimate purpose of the rulers was to install control, regulation and fear into their subjects, so that they themselves could have a life of leisure and luxury.”
Photo taken in Beijing at the Temple of Heaven which was used to be a place where the Emperors of the Ming and Qin Dynasties went to worship Heaven and offered sacrifices to pray for good harvests & favorable rain.
The Forbidden City was the official residence of 24 Ming & Qin Dynasty Emperors & their entourage with 9,000 rooms built and hosting up to 30 000 people. The name “Forbidden City” describes very plainly the fact that the City was forbidden to the “Common People”. No commoner was allowed inside these walls and there were separate entrances and separate quarters for men & women.
Feng Shui Red Door Significance: red is a vibrant color that attracts attention and the attention can bring fame & fortune. In Imperial China, only the Emperor and High Ranking Officials could paint their doors red, which is one reason why red is associated with prosperity.
Dress to Empress!
All females living in the Forbidden City were sequestered for life. The concubines main task was to bear children for the Emperor. Those who gave birth were elevated to Imperial Consorts, with the Empress at the top of the pecking order. The selection process was rigorous & was based on beauty (white porcelain skin was a criteria of outstanding beauty), together with size of their feet (barbaric foot-binding practice was prominent at this time) ; their intellect, artistic skills (painting, singing, dancing) & temperament were tested, so was their physical condition (medical examination). Social background was no barrier and many Emperors chose concubines from the general public.
The Empress was the one exception. Only a few of those who made it through this rigorous process would be noticed by the Emperor, win his favors and be taken to the Emperor’s bed-chamber by the eunuchs. Eunuchs were servants who had been castrated in order to make them reliable servants of the Emperor. These emasculated men served as palace servants and as watchdog primarily to concubines, safeguarding the Imperial Ladies chastity. The majority of the concubines would spend their lives in bitter loneliness (away from friends & family), embroiled in daily Palace politics and jealousy was rife among the concubines. When the Emperor died, so did the concubines. They were forced to commit suicide (poison) or were buried alive with the Emperor.
I have been travelling throughout China following in the footsteps of explorers & adventurers and picking up some amazing stories along the way and some Chinese Wisdom too.
The Great Wall of China
Extract from “This Is Your Quest” – Chapter 1 – Page 18: “From the beginning of time, travelling has been part of human nature. Throughout history travelers and explorers have sought adventure for various reasons such as the search for trading routes, religious sites, pilgrimage, fame & fortune, conquests, science & knowledge. The Qin Dynasty was the first dynasty of Imperial China. During this time, many nomadic groups were fighting each other for territories, dominance and prosperity. The Great Wall of China was built during the Qin Dynasty in order to protect the Chinese State against numerous raids from nomadic groups of the Eurasian steppes …”
The Great Wall of China was built because the Mongolian Warriors were superior in height, size and strength compared to the Chinese Warriors and were therefore better warriors than the Chinese. The Mongolians were the first one to produce and consume dairy products because of the geography and area where they lived. Their diet was rich in protein and calcium which made them bigger & stronger compared to the Chinese. The Chinese realized that the odds of them winning battles against the Mongolians were not in their favor. So they built a wall that stretch over 6000 km to protect their population.
DIET & SIZE MATTER A GREAT DEAL!
The Silk Road
Extract from “This Is Your Quest” – Chapter 1 – Page 21:
“The Qin Dynasty was followed by the Han Dynasty whose ambition was to seek new trading routes and also to expand their territory and influence West. Zhang Quan was appointed Chinese Imperial Envoy in 138 BC and his mission was to ensure the safety of the trading routes. His journey into the heart of Asia would result in the most important Silk Trading Route in human history. While many different kinds of merchandise traveled along the Silk Road, the name comes from the popularity of Chinese Silk with the West, especially with Rome. The Silk Road played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of China, Korea, Japan, Persia, Europe, the Horn of Africa & Arabia opening long distance political and economic relationships between those countries. It was although through the Silk Road that religion, philosophy, technology and disease ( most notably the plague) spread along the route.” Fast forward to the 21st Century, China announced in 2013 that it will resurrect the Silk Road. The initiative will encompass land routes (the Belt) and maritime routes (the road) with the goal of improving trade relationships in the region primarily through infrastructure investments. The vision is for connectivity and to trigger a new golden age of commerce that will benefit all.”
The world is full of unsolved mysteries. Rather than the land we live, what seems strange to us is the Ocean, which is home to many myths, legends & mysteries. Lost cities, hidden treasures, mystic ships are all part of the alluring marine world. Of all of these, the lost city of Atlantis tops the list.
The lost city of Atlantis was first mentioned by the Ancient Greek philosopher Plato more than 2,300 years ago. In his stories, Plato describes Atlantis as a legendary island idealizing it as an advanced society where Utopia dominates. In Atlantis, wisdom is the primary characteristics of the people and their wisdom should bring peace in the world. According to Plato, Atlanteans were great engineers and their technology was much more advanced than in other parts of the world. Atlantis was special as it was technologically & educationally much more advanced than any other society.
Tale of God’s Love. Legend says that Atlantis city was built by Poseidon – The God of Sea, Storms & Earthquakes when he fell in love with a mortal woman called Cleito. He built his city on top of a hill, in an isolated island in the sea to show his appreciation for his wife. Atlantis was said to be inhabited by people who were more beautiful & more intelligent than the rest of the world. The myth says that the inhabitants of Atlantis City were superior beings.
Atlantis was paradise: no one had to work hard. Every type of wonderful food grew there, and animals were plentiful. It had a glorious culture with wonderful palaces and temples. The kings were rich in gold, silver and other precious metals. The people of Atlantis lived a golden age of harmony and abundance.
Then things started to change. As the Atlanteans grew powerful, their ethics declined. They became greedy for more than they had. They became corrupt. Angered by the Atlanteans’ behavior Zeus summoned all the Gods and decided to teach Atlantis a lesson.
The legend of Atlantis ends with the wrath of Zeus who sent an earthquake that made Atlantis sink into the sea in the course of one day and one night. And just like that, Atlantis, its people & its memory were swallowed by the sea.
This Is Your Quest is a self-help book, I despise the phrase because it describes pop-psych, hippy nonsense, espousing spiritual mantras and upper colonic irrigation. If those are your tools for leading a kinder, simpler life, then so be it. However, if you want to read a book, you need something a bit more cerebral. This Is Your Quest is nothing like any other self-help book you will come across. It is an enlightening delight that defies the genre, well-written, insightful and ever so sincere. The approach is individual, the words have depth and the message is uplifting and thoughtful”.
“The book itself is a journey, and Reed excels at holding the hand of her guest readers. There is a gentle voice to the message. In between each chapter, she includes letters to the readers, recapping what’s has been learned and continually encouraging growth”.
“There is a surprising amount of depth in the presentation. I learnt a lot while reading it. I am not a major history nerd, but history was what hooked me. I think it is a really interesting way to break down happiness and comment on the idea of our worth and potential quests”.
The amazing and true story of Professor Ueno and his dog Hachi is described in This Is Your Quest – Chapter 14 – Page 184:
This story takes place in Japan in the 1920s. The main characters are Eizaburo Ueno, Professor of Agricultural Science at Tokyo University and his Dog Hachiko (nicknamed Hachi).
Professor Ueno lived a normal and quiet life. He used to take the train to Tokyo every day to teach. One day, one of his students offered him a pure breed Akita puppy to adopt. Akita dogs are well known in Japan. They were originally bred to fight and hunt bears and to guard Japanese royalty. They are excellent guard dogs and are used today by the Japanese police and military for security, and thanks to Hachi, they are also known for their loyalty.
Professor Ueno and Hachi developed a very strong bond and became inseparable. Hachi got into the habit of seeing his owner off to work in the morning at Shibuya train station, in Central Tokyo and then going to meet him at the station in the afternoon when he returned from work. Hachi did this every day without fail.
On 21 May 1925, Hachi was sitting by the exit at Shibuya train station, as usual, waiting for his dear Eizaburo to return. But his owner never showed up. It turned out that Eizaburo had suffered from a cerebral haemorrhage and died suddenly and unexpectedly while at work.
Hachi moved in with a former gardener of the Ueno family, but for the rest of his ten-year life, he continued to go to Shibuya train station every morning and afternoon, waiting in vain for the return of his beloved owner, who sadly never came back.
A major newspaper reporter picked up on the story of Hachiko in 1932 and published it, which led to Hachiko becoming a celebrity all over Japan. In 1934 a statue of Hachiko was unveiled at a grand ceremony in front of Shibuya train station with Hachi himself present as the main guest. Hachi became an international sensation in 2009 when Hachi’s story was turned into a Hollywood movie with Richard Gere as the lead actor.
On 19 May 2012, a bronze statue of Hachiko was placed at the train station in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, where the movie “Hachi” was filmed. The Rhode Island statue’s dedication ceremony was part of the Cherry Blossom festival. Dignitaries including the Mayor of Woonsocket and the Consul of Japan attended the ceremony. Decades after his death, the love and loyalty that Hachi showed for his master is still celebrated on the other side of the world and has drawn crowds and dignitaries from both the US and Japan.
Extract from This Is Your Quest – Chapter 14 – Page 183:
Storge is a natural form of affection that often flows between parents and their children; but it can also be found in the unconditional love that dog owners get from their dog.
Dogs are the only species who, like a child, run to their owner when they are frightened, anxious or just pleased to see their owner whenever they walk through the door.
Dogs have a very special capacity to demonstrate unconditional love that is quite refreshing. Their enthusiasm for their owner never falters. Dogs are the only animal to actively seek out eye contact with people, and truly want to be with us. Studies have shown that being in contact with animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits and horses can lead to lower blood pressure and can combat stress and ease anxiety disorder and depression. Pets can provide friendship to those who are lonely, sick or depressed.
“Interesting reading from beginning until the end, now and then I felt like being at school again. I am familiar with the name Beguine women but never realized their background. I lived in Netherlands in a city called Haarlem about 20km West of Amsterdam. Haarlem is an old city with a long history and still has a Beguinage (Beguine courtyard) which is a national monument. I always took it at face value without knowing the history.
The book is well organized which is also important. Thanks for this book. I wish many people read it.”
Originally there were 37 beguine (Dutch” begijn”), courtyards (dutch “hofjes”), but most of them were destroyed by the Calvinists during the religious conflicts. Only two very beautiful beguinages remain today: Amsterdam and Breda, which have been protected by the Orange-Nassau family.
Extract from “This Is Your Quest” – Chapter 20 – Page 222:
“The tale of the Beguine Women who lived independently in the Middle Ages, who became very influential through their trades as healers & educators and their gifts as oracles, is a story worth telling. The Beguines Women were usually unmarried women, skilled in the art of herbal medicine and healing. They looked like nuns but never swore allegiance to any formal church organization.They organized themselves into self-sufficient villages where they catered for most of their needs themselves. They built schools for young girls. They built hospitals, cemeteries and pharmacies. They also became safe oasis for women who were left destitute. Slowly but surely the Beguine Women started to become very influential. This tremendous success drew a lot of jealousy from the clergy who saw them as direct competition to their authority and power…”
To find out how this story ends you have to read it in Chapter 20 of my book.
Aristotle’s followers are said to have discussed philosophy while walking about with him. They literally walked the talk!
Every person, great or small has important work to do. There is for each and every one of us a goal that we must follow. A path that bears our name. A hand that we must hold. A word that we must say. A smile that we must give. A song that we must sing. For seldom do we realize the importance of small deeds. For great things can happen if everyone of us would brighten up the spot on which they are standing.
I made it my Quest for 2019 to help as many people as I can (through the words I have written in my book ) to find the path which bears their name.
My gratitude goes to Ariana Diaries for giving me the opportunity to talk to her about How to discover your Life’s Quest.
When asked why her self-help book is different from others Joanne Reed said:
“People who read self-help books are interested in personal development and self-actualization. Most self-help books are written from the perspective of the author and through their own expertise, knowledge & personal experience in a particular area, and it usually takes the form of a list of rules which the reader should follow in order to achieve whichever objectives they set. My approach was different, I used a multi-dimensional angle to the story. I did not tell people what to do and how they should lead their lives; I did not set rules, that they should abide by. Rather lead readers on their own Quest, that will lead them to the right path for them. I shared wisdom and life-lessons that I found through sources in history and myriad philosophies. As a reader, you must be ready to work your own path, while shadowing in the footsteps of explorers, philosophers, authors & influencers who succeeded in their own Quest.”
To celebrate Lunar New Year, I would like to share with you some Chinese wisdom provided by Lao Tzu who was an ancient Chinese philosopher, writer and founder of Taoism. His name means “Old Master”.
The Year of the Pig promises to be a year filled with prosperity, good fortune & abundance. I explained in Chapter 11 of my book that the word prosperity comes from the latin root prosperitas which means to go forward hopefully, in other words, it is an attitude towards life. Being prosperous therefore is not a destination, it is a journey.
Lao Tzu teaches us that Truly, the greatest gift you have to give, is that of your own self-transformation and that A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.
Stop trying to leave, and you will arrive. Stop seeking, and you will see. Stop running away, and you will be found. By letting go it all gets done.
Thank you to the Indian Magazine Inidna for writing 8 articles on This Is Your Quest and for recommending my book to their readers!
According to the journalist Dipsikha Samantaray This Is Your Quest is one of the best and most inspirational books of all time. In fact it is one of the best self-help book published in the past decades!
According to journalist Soudami Mohapatra:
This Is Your Quest will take you on a roller coaster ride through in-depth discussions on philosophy, socio-economic discourse and truth-seeking subjects. This book will entice, surprise, challenge your point of view but will also inspire and guide you to find fulfillment and find answers from within self.
Links to all the articles are below, thank you Indidna!