Santa Cruz County History - Religion & Spirituality

Santa Cruz Spirituality: Popular Practices Based on South and East Asian Cosmologies
by Paul Tutwiler

Indian cosmology: Yoga, Martial arts, Ayurveda


Although formally a system of Indian philosophy since about 200 BC, Yoga functions also as a practical method for uniting one's individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. Thus, even as a system of philosophy Yoga fosters physical and mental health. The fact is, however, that it reaches far more Americans as a popular healthful practice which does not make religious or philosophical demands of them.

An idea of the growth of Yoga in Santa Cruz can be had by comparing the listings in the Yellow Pages and city directories through the years, as the following table shows:

Heading 1963 1973 1983 1993 2003
"Yoga Instruction" not listed 3 2 5 18

Sources of the preceding table: 2003 SBC Yellow Pages, 1993 Pacific Bell Yellow Pages, 1983 Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Yellow Pages (listed as meditation instruction), 1973 Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Yellow Pages, 1985 Polk City Directory of Watsonville, 1982-83 Polk City Directory of Santa Cruz, 1973 Polk City Directories (separate) of Santa Cruz and of Watsonville, 1963 Polk City Directory of Santa Cruz County.

Comparison of the availability of Yoga in Santa Cruz with two similar California places, one "liberal" university town, and one typical Midwestern city.

  Santa Cruz San Luis Obispo Santa Barbara Boulder, CO Racine, WI
Yoga instruction 19 9 14 13 0
Meditation instruction 4 0 3 5 0
Total South Asian 23 9 17 18 0

Population figures for these cities from the year 2000:

  City Population County Population
Santa Cruz, CA 54,000 255,000
San Luis Obispo, CA 44,000 246,000
Santa Barbara, CA 92,000 399,000
Boulder, CO 94,000 291,000
Racine, WI 81,000 188,000

Note that as in a similar comparison in the Historical Summary section, the data are from the listings online as of May 13, 2004, and they are to be used with similar caution.

Indian martial arts

In the Indian worldview shakti is the power or energy which pervades the universe, and pran is the energy of life. Pran operates particularly in breathing, but it flows through body channels, nadi. Of the various techniques one can use to enhance pran in one's self the best known is Yoga, which can, among other things, strengthen the person and make him capable of prodigious physical feats. There have been "fighting ascetics" in Indian history, although this is not the goal of Yoga. (Joseph S. Alter, "Religion and Spiritual Development: India," pp. 462-471 of Thomas A. Green, Ed. Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia, Vol. 2. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001)

It seems clear that the high degree of asceticism required for supernatural strength in the Indian view does not have the popular appeal of the practice of East Asian martial arts. However this may be, I have found no evidence of the practice of Indian martial arts in Santa Cruz.


Ayurveda is the basic theory of traditional Indian medicine. Philosophically it derives from Samkhya, an ancient Indian view of the world as being multiple rather than being a single unity as it is in some other Indian worldviews. The energy of the universe flows through this world, and aligning ourselves with the dynamism of it is the task of Ayurveda. Whereas Yoga can be practiced according to any of the Indian worldviews, Ayurveda depends on its more specific theory.

The Ayurveda school in the United States is at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa. Its website, 2005, contains information about this kind of therapy, as do 2005 and 2005.

"College of Ayurveda," "Ayurveda World," supplier of ayurvedic products, and "Kaya Kalpa Wellness Center," which offers ayurvedic treatments, are functions of Mount Madonna Center. ( 2005)

Chinese cosmology: Martial arts, Traditional Chinese medicine, Feng-shui

East Asian spirituality is most noticeable in Santa Cruz in its association with practices of self-defense, health therapy, and — a distant third — felicitous arrangement of living and working spaces. Much of the publicity for these services emphasizes their spiritual value, although the fact is that none of them is religious or in any sense otherworldly in origin. Nevertheless, they easily lend themselves to being represented as practical aspects of Taoism, Confucianism, and Zen Buddhism because they proceed from the same general Chinese cosmology that is incorporated into these three.

Some idea of the impact these practices of East Asian spirituality are having on Santa Cruz can be had by observing the growth of the commercial industry associated with them. The following table was compiled from listings in the telephone Yellow Pages and from city directories:

Heading 1963 1973 1983 1993 2003
"Acupressure," & "Acupuncture" 0 0 15 65 108
Total trad. Chinese medicine 0 0 15 65 108
"Martial Arts Instruction" 0 0 7(2) 21 34
"Judo, Karate and Ju Jitsu Instr" 0 2(1) 3(2) 0 0
Total, Chinese and Japanese martial arts 0 2 7 21 34
"Feng Shui Products & Services" 0 0 0 0 5
Total of all practices 0 2 22 86 147

Sources: various Yellow Pages, the same as those in the preceding table on yoga instruction.

  1. The two are from the Yellow Pages, which refer this heading to "Gymnasiums."
  2. Duplicative, i.e., the 7 are from the Yellow Pages and the 3 are from the City Directories; the total is 7.

Comparison of popular practices based on Chinese cosmology in Santa Cruz with two similar California places, one "liberal" university town, and one typical Midwestern city.

  Santa Cruz San Luis Obispo Santa Barbara Boulder, CO Racine, WI
Acupuncture & Acupressure 119 21 63 59 4
Martial Arts Instruction 55 33 32 41 6
Feng shui 4 0 2 0 0
Total East Asian 178 54 97 100 10
Alternative medicine & health practitioners, holistic practitioners, & homeopathy 69 33 42 30 10

Note that as in a similar comparison in the Historical Summary section, the data are from the listings online as of May 13, 2004, and they are to be used with similar caution.

See above for population information.

Chinese Martial Arts

Chinese historical records and other writings over the centuries reveal that the martial arts were practiced among all elements of society, including religious groups. However, there is little evidence that there was any significant religious influence over the martial arts or that they were a product of religious experience. On the contrary, they were the product of a clan society intent on protecting group interests and of the existence of widespread warfare among contending states during China's formative period...

... that these arts are inseparable from a religious or spiritual context is simply unfounded. On the other hand, martial arts concepts are clearly based on a Daoist philosophical worldview, and this includes psychological as well as physical aspects ... it is perhaps understandable that misunderstandings have arisen in modern times concerning the nature and origins of the martial arts and their place in society. (Stanley E. Henning, "Religion and Spiritual Development: China," pp. 455-462 of Thomas A. Green, Ed. Martial Arts of the World. An Encyclopedia, Vol 2. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001, p. 455)

There are Chinese narrations about the fighting prowess of Buddhist monks. Especially renowned were the "Thirteen Fighting Monks of Shaolin Monastery," who assisted the Emperor Taizong in fighting off his enemies in the seventh century and appeared again as warriors who resisted Japanese pirates in the sixteenth century. Nevertheless, the earliest reference that connects the practice of Taoism with martial arts is from the seventeenth century. (Henning, op. cit., pp. 458-461)

Local martial arts websites with information on Chinese martial arts: 2005 2005 (Plum Publications: specialists in Chinese martial arts, energetics [such as Ch'i Kung and T'ai Chi], philosophy, theory, and critique)

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture, moxibustion and cupping (three ways of applying stimuli to points on the body), herbs, massage, breath regulation, exercises, and harmonious sexual practices are the means by which traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) works to maintain health and to restore it. Acupuncture and moxibustion, in particular, have such an ancient origin that the first known treatise on them, the Nei Ching, which dates from the second or third century BC, attributes them to the legendary Yellow Emperor of the third millennium BC. Before the sixth century AD some knowledge of TCM had already spread from China through Korea to Japan, and comprehensive treatises on it became available in Japan in that century. Less is known about acupuncture and related procedures in ancient India, but there is textual evidence for its presence there so early that, for all we know, it spread eastward from India to China. (Omura, pp. 13-16)

Wherever their geographical origins, acupuncture and similar treatments clearly took their form from experiment, trial and error, although how this occurred is still highly speculative. (Mann, p. 3; Fu, pp. 8-14) By the time of the Nei Ching, however, the basic concepts of TCM were 1) opposition of Yin and Yang, 2) the Tao, 3) the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water), and 4) the medical combination of all these concepts. (Omura, p. 20) The prime focus of TCM was and is Qi, and from the general notion of Qi in the world and in humans one proceeds to the well-known doctrine of the meridians, or channels, of Qi and to the diagnoses and applications instrumental in maintaining or restoring their proper function. It may be of particular interest that TCM is first of all preventive, and then reparative medicine. (Mann, pp. 195-198)

Bibliography on traditional Chinese medicine

American Acadamy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. 2005.

American Association of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine. American Association of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine. 2005.

Mann, Felix. Acupuncture: The Ancient Chinese Art of Healing. 3rd ed. London: William Heinemann Medical Books Ltd., 1978.

National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.2005.

Omura, Yoshiaki. Acupuncture Medicine: Its Historical and Clinical Background. Tokyo: Japan Publications, Inc., 1982.

Ross, Jeremy. Zang fu: The Organ Systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Linvingstone, 1985.

Wei-kang, Fu. The Story of Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion. Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1975.

Some Santa Cruz Asian medicine practitioners have websites that are useful sources of information about Asian medicine: Santa Cruz Acupuncture of Capitola. 2005.

Five Branches University: Graduate School of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Five Branches University.
The five branches are: acupuncture, herbology, dietetics, tuina, and energetics (Tai Chi, Qi Gong). Has a 2,000 volume library.

New Dimensions Acupuncture & Herbology. New Dimensions Acupuncture & Herbology. 2005.


In his dissertation for the Ph.D. in architecture Sang Hae Lee covered the history and principles of feng-shui as an introduction to its specific working principles. Lee writes,

Feng-shui is a Chinese traditional architectural theory for selecting a favorable site for dwellings, both for the living and the dead, and for deciding important matters when planning a dwelling. (p. 2)

The basic premise of feng-shui theory is that man, both the living and the dead, is under the control of ch'i prevalent in heaven and earth. The ch'i on earth is believed to flow underneath the earth as a conduit and to be related to the growth and change of all the phenomena in the world.

Moreover, the Chinese traditionally have believed that the currents of ch'i and its presence on earth are visibly linked with the geographical features of mountains, watercourses, and vegetation. 'Geography' to the Chinese means both the appearance of surface configurations of the earth and the inner life force of ch'i. Both aspects are considered inseparable and interdependent...

The starting point of feng-shui theory is, therefore, that the site of a human dwelling must be located at the place where the heavenly ch'i and the earthly ch'i are in constant interaction and in harmony with each other -- the place where the ch'i is primarily accumulated. (pp. 16-17)

'In the Chinese view a building is not simply something that sits upon the ground to serve as a convenient site for human activity. It is an intervention in the universe; and that universe is composed of the physical environment and men and the relationships among men.' (p. 20, quoting Maurice Freedman, 'Geomancy,' Proceeding of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. London: Athlone, 1968, p. 7)

As an art, however, "Feng-shui theory is applied to the house-building process in three stages of decision making: first, site selection; second, house location within the site and its orientation; and third, internal arrangement of architectural objects and elements." (p. 290)

Lee prefers the use of the terms "feng-shui" and "feng-shui expert" to the often used terms "geomancy" and geomancer," which refer to divination. (p. 25) The manipulation of symbols such as the later heaven trigrams, the five elements, the five planets, the black turtle and so on certainly give the impression of being some sort of magic. The aspect of divination has been historically present in the practice of feng-shui, and the common people sought favorable personal consequences from it. They perceived it only as it had specific connections to their individual and social lives. Specifically,

The auspicious consequences of correct feng-shui applications include honor, success in a civil service examination, attainment of office, wealth and prosperity, longevity, many sons and descendants, happiness, intelligence, filial piety, harmony with family members, and good character. On the other hand, the inauspicious aspects include poverty, a short life, sickness, no sons and descendants, failure, viciousness, hardship, stupidity, lewdness, jealously, dominance of women, lawsuits, and the like. (p. 352)

The intellectuals, on the contrary, sought in feng-shui a 'rational' system of knowledge, one of the integrated forms of metaphysical Chinese natural philosophy, a means of effecting correspondence between heaven and earth.

Bibliography on feng shui

Lee, Sang Hae. Feng-shui: Its Context and Meaning. Diss. Cornell University, 1986. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms International, 1986.

Japanese Martial Arts

The known history of martial arts in Japan is shorter than that of China, and can be traced back reliably only to the thirteenth century. Notable Japanese practitioners from then until the nineteenth century were warrior families, but many other classes of society, including monks and peasants, used the the Japanese martial arts.

The complexity of the data is compounded by the fact that few scholars have researched either Japanese religious practices or the vast literature describing pre modern Japanese religious practices or the vast literature describing pre modern martial arts. At this preliminary stage, tentative order can be imposed on this vast topic by surveying it in terms of the three dominant religious patterns of pre modern Japan: familial religion of tutelary ancestors, alliances, and control over land; exoteric-esoteric Buddhist systems of resemblances and ritual mastery; and Chinese notions of cosmological and social order. (William F. Bodiford, "Religion and Spiritual Development: Japan," pp. 472-505 of Thomas A. Green, Ed. Martial Arts of the World. An Encyclopedia, Vol 2. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001, p. 487)

Looking to Europe for methods to develop the nation, the Meiji at first imported German notions of group calisthenics and pushed traditional martial arts into the background. By 1907, however, martial arts had not only been rehabilitated, but had even become a way of training the spirit of soldiers. In 1945, following the trauma of World War II, martial arts were completely banned in Japan. Nevertheless, by 1950 they started to reappear as physical education sport. Along with this aspect of them, however, many practitioners were incorporating Buddhist values. The combination of Zen Buddhism and martial arts was particularly advanced by the American writer Donn F. Draeger, who

asserted that martial arts whose name end with the suffix -jutsu (e.g., jujutsu, kenjutsu) are combative systems of self-protection, while those whose names end with the suffix -do (e.g., judo, kendo) are spiritual systems for self-perfection. The former primarily emphasize combat, followed by discipline and, lastly, morals, while the latter are chiefly concerned with morals, followed by discipline and aesthetic form. In spite of their rigid reductionism, these definitions have been widely adopted by martial art enthusiasts outside of Japan and even by some within Japan. (Bodiford, op. cit., p. 485; Bodiford cites Draeger's The Martial Arts and Ways of Japan. 3 volumes. New York: Weatherhill, 1973-1974. The rest of the information in the above two paragraphs is condensed from Bodiford's article.)

Local martial arts websites with information beyond publicity on Japanese martial arts:

Aikido of Santa Cruz. Aikido of Santa Cruz. 2005.

Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu Karate of Santa Cruz, CA. Matsubayashi Karate-do. 2005.

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