Dragon As A Universal Mythological Image Sample College Essay

A myth reflects attitude of people to reality. At the time when they were created myths served for explaining the objects and events, which had no rational explanations. Myths reflect outlook of the people who have created them. Through comparing different myths of different cultures we can compare different outlooks and ontological systems of these cultures. The image of dragon appears in the myths of a lot of cultures. Dragons appear in the myths of many countries. Anthropologist and writer David Jones call dragon a universal image. (Jones, 96) What is notable, the image of dragon differs significantly in different cultures.

Western and Eastern perception of this mythological creature has significant difference and this difference can illustrate the difference in two mythological systems. Eastern Dragons – Helpers and Protectors In China and other countries of East Asia dragon is a mythological create, which is depicted like a snake with many claws. Dragon is a very popular symbol in Oriental art and culture. For many centuries in China it has symbolized strong power. In addition, Oriental dragon is a symbol of yang, or masculine features. Many oriental myths depict dragon as the master of the rain.

Rain provides good harvest that is why dragon is associated with wealth and wellness. In China dragon is a symbol of emperor’s family and people use the term “descendant of the dragon” to speak about somebody’s origin. During the period of Quin Dynasty the dragon was used as a symbol of the emperor and was depicted on the flag. What is interesting, Chinese authorities had to avoid the use of this symbol because of the meaning it had for Western people. For Western people dragon symbolizes aggression and anger and Chinese government had to take into account the difference in meaning.

The meaning of dragon as a mighty and kind creature, which symbolizes state power and noble position, is still present in Oriental countries. Any kind of disrespect to this mythological creature can be regarded as a damage to national identity. For example, Nike’s advertisement, where basketball player killed a dragon was prohibited in China because of disrespect to dragon. In Asian proverbs and idioms dragon is always used in positive meaning. For example, there is a wish for a person to be like a dragon. In this proverb people talk about powerfulness of the dragon.

In the East dragons are never thought to be the source of evil. They are depicted as powerful and fantastic creatures, which never hurt people without considerable reasons. In China dragon has strong association with water and weather. People there used to believe that dragons ruled the bodies of water. They made seas, rivers and waterfalls move. “There are four major Dragon Kings, representing each of the four seas: the East Sea, the South Sea , the West Sea, and the North Sea . ”(Suckling, 79) People worshiped these water dragons, especially during the period of droughts.

In Vietnam dragon is one of the most important sacred symbols. According the Vietnamese myth about the creation of the world all people are descendants of the dragon Lac Long Quan and a fairy Au Co. According to the legend their 100th son founded the first Vietnamese dynasty. That is why dragon in Vietnam is a symbol of power and good luck. For long time people even worshiped to this mythological character. Western Dragons – Worthy Rivals of Men In Western folklore the image of dragon is different from one of the Eastern folklore. The word dragon derives from Latin word ‘drakon’.

In Western methodology dragon is a descendant of warm or serpent. In some countries, such as Finland, for example, the term “dragon” contains allusion to the place where it lives. Dragon is often called a rock snake or a worm, which lives under ground. So, mythological meaning of Western dragon derives from the ancient cult of snakes. In this tradition the dragon is depicted as huge creatures, which breathe with fire. All its body is covered with scale and there are horns on his head. It usually has wings and legs. Eastern dragons usually have no wings and their depictions are not so aggressive as ones in Western mythology are.

Asian dragons bring rain and that is why they usually live in the bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, seas and oceans. In Asian mythology dragon is usually strong but kind creature in contrast to Western dragons, which usually brought grief and destruction to the lands where they appeared. In many Western religions dragons are depicted as the carriers of evil. The image of the dragon adopted in Western culture derives from the Bible serpent, a snake, which seduced Adam and Eve and became the reason of their exile from the Garden of Eden (Lionarons, 113).

According to this interpretation it was Devil, who took the form of the snake and tempted Adam and Eve. This snake is sometime associated with dragon in Medieval Biblical interpretations. In Western traditions dragons are cunning and clever creatures, which often possess magic abilities. In different legends dragons protect treasures. In Western tradition the dragon is often a pancultural image of danger (Jones, 111). In legends about Fafnir and Beowulf dragons guard treasure. The treasure turns to be cursed and brings only evil to people, who find it.

There are a lot of Western legends, where heroes have to fight with dragons in order to protect people or save somebody’s life. In the legend called “Saint George and the Dragon” St. George is described like brave knight who kills dragon and save princess (Lionarons, 145). There are western legends, which depict dragons as human-like creatures, who possess wit and wisdom and help people but such cases are rare. In the most of the myths dragons confront men and people have to fight them. Moreover, in the Book of Revelation Satan is described as a dragon-like creature.

He is depicted as a great dragon breathing red flames and seven heads. Symbolic Meaning of Dragons in Different Cultural Contexts In Western culture Dragons often symbolize anger and envy. Sometimes they were the symbols of betrayal and treachery. Only in Western tradition dragons have several heads and these heads are the symbols of independence, strength and revelation. Beating the dragon is very difficult that is why it always means that hero has reached certain degree of courage and wisdom. Campbell also states that in some cultures dragons represent the union of heaven and earth.

In Western myth the dragon is depicted as a creature with the snake body and wings. Snake body is a symbol of earth and wings remain of birds, which can fly, and thus symbolize heavenly component. (Campbell, 150) Western mythology depicts dragon as the creature, which prevents people from reaching their goals. Very often the hero has to kill dragon in order to get to his final goal. This meaning can be understood metaphorically. Joseph Campbell in his The Power of Myth speaks about the metaphorical meaning of dragons in Western mythology: ”Psychologically, the dragon is one s own binding of oneself to one’s ego.

We are captured in our own dragon cage. The problem of the psychiatrist is to disintegrate that dragon, break him up, so that you may expand to a larger field of relationships. The ultimate dragon is within you, it is your ego clamping you down” (Campbell, 150) In his perception dragon reflects not only external restrictions but also inner ones. He tells about the western perception of dragon as of something, which do not let people reach their goals. Something Campbell describes this like ego and this ego doesn’t let people follow one and ultimate goal of their lives. Follow your bliss, comes up in a discussion about doing battle with dragons, as in the dragon battles of the medieval knights. ” (Campbell, 149) Campbell tells the legend about King Arthur and his knights as an example of Western individualism in the search for meaning. The famous legend tells a story about the quest for Holy Grail. Holy Grail is just a symbol of wholeness and transcendental truth. In this legend the Knights of the Round Table see Holy Grail once before it disappears. Fascinated by the Grail, they start their journey. Here Campbell stresses on the fact, that all knights went different paths (Campbell, 120) .

They did not want to bother each other in their quest. According to Campbell this story perfectly reflects Western individualism and desire for personal experience. This individualism is reflected in all Western myths and legends (Campbell, 121). In contrast to medieval knights, who went to their campaigns to kill their dragons, Campbell asks people to look for these dragons inside of them. These dragons can look like fear, anger, despair and lack of self-esteem. It can be just anything, which creates inner restrictions. Campbell stresses on the soul and spirit, like the main essences, which cause all misfortunes in human lives. The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your case where the life is and become alive yourself” (Campbell, 120) All his reflections about dragons reflect Western perception of this mythical creatures. Dragons there represent evil, which should be overcome. People are confronted to this evil and only chosen daredevils find enough courage to meet the challenge and try to fight a dragon.

Both, real and imaginary dragons are depicted in Western tradition as a source of problems for people. Dragons in Western tradition are cunning, strong and powerful and they are usually opposed to people. Images of Dragons as a Reflection of Basic Western and Eastern Beliefs The role of dragon in Oriental methodology is different. On the East dragons represent the forces of nature and appear as the part of the Universe. Dragons are honored as wise and clever creatures. So, in Western mythology dragons are mostly depicted as evil creatures who are dangerous for people.

In Oriental tradition dragon is a benevolent creature, which represents the forces of nature and often helps people. “Oriental dragons are considered basically good and representative of government, but the great majority (although not all) European dragons are absolutely evil and often represent chaos. ” (Jones, 69) Campbell explains such different attitudes to these mythical creatures by the difference of perception of the role of individual. Oriental religion and philosophy regards man as a part of the Universe and emphasizes on the necessity of the harmonious coexistence with all powers of nature.

On the East man is not opposed to nature. People are the part of the Universe and try to live in harmony with other creatures. All Western culture is based on the concept of an individual, who confronts the powers of nature and other human beings. The search for the bliss or some ultimate goal is central for both mythologies but East and West use different approaches on their way for the main goal. In the West the search for truth and wisdom is always individual and each person has to make his own way. In this case the person is opposed to the rest of the world and natural forces are often regarded as hostile.

Western characters fight with dragons inside and outside themselves. Oriental people try to come in terms with dragons as they represent the part of the Universe and everything exists for some purpose. The image of dragons in Eastern and Western myths gives us an idea about differences in the way of thinking of the representatives of these two cultures. Eastern people do not count on the individuality and try to find the way of harmonious coexistence with the natural powers and divine forces. Oriental image of dragon represents such an attitude.

For Eastern people dragon is a benevolence creature, which represents forces of nature and higher power. People and dragons peacefully coexist and benefit from each other. Dragon as a symbol of power is respected in honored in Asian countries. The situation is different in Western culture. Individualism and materialism make the characters of the myths confront the natural powers and overcome obstacles. This explains hostile image of the dragon created in the most of Western myths.

Sources

Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth. New York: Doubleday, 1988. Campbell, Joseph, Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation New World Library (November 9, 2004 Jones E. David , An Instinct for Dragons, Routledge, 2002 Lionarons T. Joyce, The Medieval Dragon. Hisarlik Press, 2004 Giants, Monsters, and Dragons : An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth, ed. Rose, C. , New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2001 Suckling, Nigel. Year of the Dragon: Legends & Lore. Sterling Pub Co Inc, 2003 World Dragon Methodology, retrieved 12. 15. 2005 from http://www. polenth. com/myth/favmyth. htmlhttp://www. polenth. com/myth/favmyth. html

Eastern Civilization

When a minority religion such as Judaism or Islam becomes ‘absorbed’ by Chinese or Indian culture the end result is usually a loss of tradition for the Jew or Islamic. In the beginning, small changes are made to adapt to the main society. Things such as traditional clothing or small religious tokens may be changed to fit within the absorbing society’s religious traditions but the main beliefs regarding food, prayer and family will remain the same. Within time, however, they begin to adapt more and more into the mainstream religion.

They start to set aside certain restrictions on food, an example being the Jews in China changing their dietary beliefs due to the lack of availability of food suited to their religious rules. Intermarrying is inevitable and this also contributes to the absorption of the minority religion into the mainstream. The absorption of a culture or religion by a larger or more dominant one has been documented throughout history. It damages both societies to a degree although the lesser religion is more adversely affected. … acculturation gradually turned into assimilation, as the Jews finally lost their synagogue, their knowledge and ritual practice of Judaism, and the communal institutions that made them a distinct community. ”(Schwartz, 1999, p. 105) This is not good for either society because it does not allow them to maintain their history and culture as pure. It becomes a hybrid of their original religion or society and even when they attempt to recover their religious and social identities, some of what was lost is unable to be rediscovered and may be lost forever to later generations.

There were hierarchical social systems in most traditional Asian cultures. These are commonly known as caste systems. They define the individual groupings of people within a population or culture. Most caste systems were divided both politically and by work or trade. The higher the caste, the better the job or political position one would achieve. The caste order was according to the caste or social level that one was born into and would remain in throughout their lifetime.

People did not change caste levels or move into a higher position in society, regardless of intelligence, work ethic or even marriage. There were few advantages to the hierarchy social system if one was born into a lower caste. A person was expected to work, live and marry within their defined social group and it was very rare for anyone to do otherwise. In the event that a lower caste person married a higher caste person, it did not elevate the social status of the lower caste person.

One of the few advantages of the caste system was the knowledge and customs of each caste were individual. With the exception of not being able to move out of their social level, the castes were free to pursue their own religion, traditions and rules. The disadvantages were numerous for the lower classes and even affected the higher castes in some areas. For example, a person could be a magnificent craftsman but never rise above the social status into which he was born. Likewise, a member of a high social caste could not become a craftsman.

Castes were communities within communities and people stayed within their boundaries. The role of family in East Asian society was the basis for most of the social system. Family was everything and to dishonor ones family was unforgivable. Regardless of the social status of ones family, the family honor had to be upheld. Eastern families were concerned with the community as a whole rather that the individual. The welfare and food of the community was everyone’s business not just each person. The family was responsible for the social well being of everyone.

Each member of the family represented it as a whole; what one member of the family did affected everyone. The family’s main role in society was to ensure the community or population was bettered by its contributions as a whole. This was the main difference between the western family and the eastern family in society. The east considered the family to be one unit while the west saw each family member as an individual part. What a western family member did or did not do could not affect the entire family in most cases.

This was not true within the eastern family where one person’s actions affected the entire family unit. Western families could judge the actions of the individual without accepting responsibility for it. A western individual could aspire to individual wealth and power. Eastern families did not believe in the individuals rights. If there was wealth or power to be had, it was to be had by all and individual recognition or pride was not considered to be honorable. The eastern family is still considered an important part of life while the western focuses on more individual accomplishments.

The Indus Valley Civilization, which existed roughly from 3300-1700 BC, was a very advanced civilization for those times. They were not warriors although weapons found would indicate that they would fight if necessary. They were amazing craftsmen and agriculturists who traded their goods over land and by sea. They built irrigation ditches and had a mostly equal society with everyone enjoying the same advantages of their technology. Over time, the climate changed to a drier, cooler climate. This caused large parts of the Ghaggar River to disappear.

This was a main port of trade and one possible reason for the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization. Without the trade industry they had created, they were unable to support the large population that inhabited the valley. The Aryans were hunters and gathers as opposed to the Indus Valley natives. They were a more war like people and moved from area to another. The decline the population of the Indus Valley made it an easy target for the Aryans and they assimilated the Indus people who had not moved on when the river began to dry up.

The Aryans did not have the technology for irrigation or the craftsmanship of the Indus but they did have the leadership and the force to overtake the valley and make use of what they could. Eventually the Indus civilization ceased to exist and the advances and beauty they had created were lost. This Aryan domination created a new people known as the Indus-Aryan people. They continued with the Aryan ways and moved into other areas. Classical India’s major achievements have been in several areas. A strong religious base is one.

The Hindus have remained strong and consistent throughout the history of India. India also had one of the first cities, the Indus Valley Civilization, which showed them to be highly advanced in irrigation, craftsmanship and trade. The traders spread the Indian culture through Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. India also had a decimal system of mathematics as early as 200 BC. Political problems did not reduce the number of achievements but it did take them in a different direction. India was not a democracy for most of its history and once it became democratic, the Indian people saw the value of it.

This was not something they had considered to be important up to that point. They have preserved their culture and continue to make achievements to improve the country and the lives of its people. Their music, art and religion have survived hundreds of years and that is also a major achievement. They have shown that a culture can be preserved even as it moves forward with the times. They have become more conscious of defending their way of life but are still looking for a way to help their people out of the poverty that is so widespread in their country. This shows that they continue to achieve despite the political issues that may plague them.

References

Bryant, E. (2000). In Quest of the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. New York: Oxford University Press. Carr, B. (Ed. ). (1996). Morals and Society in Asian Philosophy. Richmond, England: Curzon Press. Clyde, P. H. (1948). The Far East: A History of the Impact of the West on Eastern Asia. New York: Prentice-Hall. (1960). The Concise Encyclopedia of Archaeology (L. Cottrell, Ed. ) (1st ed. ). New York: Hawthorn Books. Converse, H. S. , & Sharma, A. 1994). An Ancient Sudra Account of the Origin of Castes. The Journal of the American Oriental Society Cox, O. C. (1948). Caste, Class, & Race: A Study in Social Dynamics (1st ed. ). Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Ferm, V. (Ed. ). (1945). An Encyclopedia of Religion. New York: Philosophical Library. Kenoyer, J. M. (2003). A Peaceful Realm: The Rise and Fall of the Indus Civilization. Asian Perspectives: the Journal of Archaeology for Asia and the Pacific Leach, E. R. (Ed. ). (1962). Aspects of Caste in South India, Ceylon, and North-West Pakistan. Cambridge: University Press.

In Focus: Eating And Motivation

Eating is very important as it sustains one’s existence. People eat for survival, and this activity is meant to nourish the body, producing the energy needed for daily activities and body processes. Moreover, growth and development are furnished through eating, the nutrients and vitamins from food consumed supplies the body with its needs thereby bringing forth growth and development. Thinking is the foremost activity that humans do where eating is important, enabling them to think clearly and positively (Wansink, 2006). Brand-Miller et. al (2005, p. 98) had written in simple terms that people eat because they are hungry, and stop eating as they are satisfied. The human stomach in particular stretches when it is full of food. Hunger is a specific feeling of emptiness in the stomach. These stomach signals the production of a lasting feeling of fullness, which tends to make us stop eating. As food is taken, hormones are released telling the hypothalamus (i. e. a brain structure) to take charge of eating. In addition, it is this brain structure which tells us which foods is appealing or not depending on one’s preferences.

If damage has been done, this affects one’s emotional state causing an individual to eat more than usual. The brain controls the eating process, releasing chemicals, nutrients and hormones that determine hunger and satiety. Glucose is an important nutrient which affects the eating levels of an individual. Insulin is actually called the “hunger hormone” because it has the capacity to increase the hunger felt by an individual, and as a result, he will eat more than usual without noticing it. Often, people condition themselves to eat whether one is physiologically hungry or not.

This is not important since the brain has conditioned the individual to eat regardless of his emotions or physiological state (Brain-Miller et. al, 2005, p. 200). In the past, eating serves the purposes of survival and growth and development. Of late, its purpose has evovlved into being merely for satisfaction. Moreover, it is done for social purposes. Eating is a form of bonding among friends and forms part of traditional practices of a group or religious sect. Each particular group has their particular food preferences.

Muslims, for instance, do not have pork as part of their diet. There are also some minority groups in Asia where eating or drinking dairy products is not acceptable on the basis of religious laws. The differences in food preferences stir up disgust which can be a determinant of eating habits (Wansink, 2006, p. 135). In the past, people prefer to eat vegetables and fruits because these were easier to gather and prepare. Today, pork and beef have become their favorites in addition to other ingredients that make it more appealing to the taste.

Moreover, food decorations have become important in eating; usually, eaters prefer colorful food, since these are appealing to the eyes. The appeal of food is not only restricted to color and taste, the smell of the food can also add up to its appeal. The nutritious benefit of food does not bring appeal to eaters; rather they give greater premium to smell, color and taste. Children eat food that are colorful and of good taste, preferring these over vegetables and fruits (Natenshon, 1999). Residents from both rural and urban locations have become very particular with the food that they eat.

Food has become very convenient – just by adding hot water or reheating it in the microwave, a meal may be served. Busy people often prefer these convenient food instead of preparing their own. The taste is similar and importantly, it will not be time consuming in preparation; however, these food are often packed with various preservatives, resulting to more calories and posing health-risks (Wansink, 2006, p. 88). Eating had become a pastime. It is done not only to satisfy hunger but rather for satisfaction. Moreover, people become motivated to eat when they experience negative emotions.

Depression causes an individual to eat more than the usual, to do away with the negative emotion that they are feeling (Wansink, 2006). Emotional eating may be caused by anger, loneliness, stress, anxiety, sadness, or boredom and may affect an individual’s weight loss program. Emotional eating makes people eat too much high-calorie food or salty, fatty, or sweet foods. Overeating may be triggered by negative life events such as health problems, divorce, or unemployment. Stress from work, changes in the routine, the bad weather, or other daily life hassles can make people eat more.

They binge eat and thus gain weight. Often, wrong eating practices are practiced, leading to obesity (Fairburn, 1995). People fancy eating in restaurants with good food. Eating is done to pamper the cravings and for survival purposes. Foods prepared outside the homes, are proven to have high-caloric intake than the usual foods prepared at home. The good taste it offers is coupled with different spices, preservatives and other ingredients adding to more calories. Eating had become a desire and not a necessity for survival. As for children, they prefer to eat processed foods particularly fast food.

These entities claim that the food they serve have nutritional value, yet the calorie count of such food is very high. From an empirical study, it has been found that a child eating at fast food for 2 weeks gained weight uncontrollably (Wansink, 2006, p. 78). Aside from being an emotional eater, obesity is inherited. If parents are obese, this poses a high risk of obesity for their children. The manner of eating may have been inherited making them obese as early as their childhood. Obesity has become a common problem of contemporary times and it is not only brought about by the genes inherited by the child from his parents.

Eating has become a habit and when food cravings are not controlled, they eat whenever they want even if they do not feel hunger. Food contents have become high in calories and sugar causing the person to gain more weight (Fairbrun, 1995). Many children in the United States eat too much fat, saturated fat. Only half of the youth population engages in physical activities. In fact, one in four children in the United States is overweight. Children do away with good diet and physical activities; instead, they prefer to watch television or play online games in their computer and they eat processed food at the same time.

Because of the present lifestyle of these children, inheritance had not been the major affecting obesity – that is, lifestyle is a stronger determinant of this condition (Natenshon, 1999). Obesity has been affecting individuals at an early age. Aside from inheritance as a major reason, the environment aggravates the problem further. In order to outdo the worsening problem, children are encouraged to eat vegetables and fruits rather than eating processed foods and chips. Schools help in implementing gardening as part of their requirement wherein they themselves grow the vegetables and fruits in the school garden.

By doing so, children are encouraged to consume it since they are the ones who grew it. Moreover, decorations are added to make it appealing to the students. Instead of serving it plainly as a vegetable dish, it is presented wherein children can also enjoy both its taste and appeal (Brand-Miller, et. al, 2005). According to Fairburn (1995), schools have been requested to ban the selling of chips and other food that are not nutritious. In banning these food, children will be obliged to eat nutritious food that are sold at their school canteen.

These laws have been implemented to reduce the increasing number of obese children. Schools, being the second home to these children, must give importance to their nutritional intake. Moreover, as healthy eating is promoted at an early age hence it follows that this habit will be carried on as they grow into adulthood. Natenshon (1999) writes that one’s family must also be supportive of their obese child. Parents must ensure that their love and support through out the process of weight reduction is consistent. They must see to it that the child is always encouraged to continue the diet and exercise plan for his own benefit.

Trimming down weight is not only for the sole purpose of looking good but mainly to prevent the health risks brought about by obesity. Also, as weight has been trimmed down, the obese individual will feel good about himself resulting to a stronger sense of esteem making him more motivated to go on with the process. Ultimately, he is able to achieve his ideal body weight and maintain a healthy eating lifestyle. Gaining weight is very easy but to lose weight has been proven to be very difficult. Exercise and diet are the major steps carried out for weight loss.

But even in carrying out these strategies, significant weight changes are rarely observed. Often, losing weight is affected by the individual’s metabolism. The metabolism of the individual is exclusive to the person; there are those with fast metabolism who remain thin or fit even if they eat a lot, and there are those who despite eating little still gain substantial weight. The speed of metabolism is partly inherited. Still, exercise and diet must be done with the hope that with persistence these shall take effect after some time. Moreover, it is important to eat healthy food and refrain from eating oily food and sweets (Fairburn, 1995).

Weight reduction among women is also affected by hormonal imbalance. Though they have been working out hard and subjecting themselves to stringent diets, their weight remains dormant. They are advised to continue the routine that they are doing. The hormones will balance its action inside the body, which will cause the effects of exercise and diet to manifest. Moreover, there are wrong approaches to dieting which have been put forth. Women particularly miss meals as their diet, but as they become hungry, they engage in binge eating making their diet useless. It is important to choose and comply with proper approaches of exercising and dieting in order to see optimal effects (Wansink, 2006).

REFERENCES

Brand-Miller, J. , Foster-Powell, K. , and Sandall, P. (2005). The New Glucose Revolution: Low GI Eating Made Easy. USA: Marlowe & Company. Fairburn, C. (1995). Overcoming Binge Eating . USA: Guilford Press. Natenshon, A. (1999). When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder: A Step-By-Step Workbook for Parents and Other Caregivers. USA: Jossey-Bass. Wansink, B. (2006). Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. 1st edition. Bantam.