The Astor Court Mehraz Karim

The Astor Court is an experience that will bring you back to Ancient China physically and mentally. Let's start off with the entrance. It is an elegant yet unique one that represents culture and beliefs. The gate itself represents the whole universe, while the square is the four cardinal directions and the Earth in the cosmos. Once you enter this gate, they say you enter another universe. This "universe" is filled with all sorts of symbolic things that represent wu-wei (being free flowing) and an un-carved block, neutral. Now, we'll talk about these symbols and other key terms they relate to.

This pond represents wu-wei, being free flowing. The reason this pond is here is because of how water is very free flowing and allows room to move around and for other people to know you. This is why the pond can support koi, because there is lots of room to move around.
rThis block can be seen in various shapes all around the room. It represents mountains and free-flowingness. They are there to show natural energy that flows in a person without being "carved". So, they literally represent un-carved blocks, which are completely neutral. But, there is still more to them. They represent nature and how when you go through the holes of these rocks, you are entering a whole new world. This idea is strikingly similar to "returning to infancy/nature." That means dropping all politics and regaining your natural rhythm. Overall, the exhibit draws a lot from Daoism and being natural.

What can we learn from this exhibit? Why should a future 8th grader choose this experience to learn about Ancient China? The Astor Court is an exhibit that accurately showcases the cultures of different belief systems, but mainly Daoism. It highlights many of their central elements, mainly Wu-Wei and P'u, to put you in the mindset of a Daoist.

This photo is the only path way in the whole exhibit, the rest being open and wide. This path represents the Dao, or the way.

In conclusion, The Astor Court truly is an amazing exhibit that took me to a whole new world once I stepped through the moon gate. I was in a world where I was free, yet still guided by the Dao, but I could return to infancy without being guided by politics or opinions on the world. It was an experience that I recommend everyone should try, whether you want to experience Ancient China or see the world through a different lens.

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