SHENMO MOTTO: Virtue & Wisdom

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Abacus Math and Chinese Culture

2019-01-23 丨

The writer is from the Ministry of culture development

The exploration of nature is the common pursuit of ancient and modern human beings. This led to the birth of "math." As one of the archaic civilizations of human beings, in the history of nearly 5,000 years, the Chinese civilization has created a calculation-oriented and practical Chinese ancient math with its unique cognition of the world. Chinese math has long been a world leader.

Ancient Chinese Mathematical Classics Zhou Bi Suan Jing
 
In ancient China, mathematics is concise but contains a wealth of mathematical principles and ideas. Many of the achievements of Chinese mathematics ultimately attribute to algorithms, such as "integration ( rod-math)", "abacus math" and so on. As a result, some calculation tools including "counting rods" and "abacus” had been Invented. The leading position of ancient China in astronomical calendars and technological creation is inseparable from the application and emphasis of “calculation”. In addition, "calculation" has also entered all aspects of Chinese life: The magic touch, excellent stratagem, contemplate, calculation, conspire, odds, plan, cost-effective, miscalculation, reckon,  projection, plot, wily, wonderful foresight, and tell fortunes... "calculation" is not only a tool to understand nature, but also a unique “culture of calculation”. It has become an indispensable part of the life of the ancient Chinese. To this day, the pure computing power of Chinese students is still at the leading level in the world.
 
In China, when anything been lifted up to the cultural level, it is inevitable to involve a question – what is “Tao”. It is so for traditional Chinese medicine and art. And the culture of calculation is no exception.
 
“Tao" is the core of Chinese culture. Under the guidance of this spirit of exploration, all areas of Chinese culture are exploring the direction of "Tao" in their own way. There is even a saying that "If you understand Tao in the morning, you can die at night." In Chinese culture, "Tao" can be understood as the general law shared by all nature. The culture of calculation was originally created by people in order to better understand nature. This has also become the entry point for the cultural exploration of the Tao. In ancient China, many algorithms have already expressed their thoughts on "Tao". Sancaisuan is to echo the "Heaven-Earth-Human", and the Liangyisuan is consistent with "Yin and Yang". It is inferred that the Yijing and the eight trigram is calculated by "counting rob", and this has become the most intuitive understanding of the "Tao" by the Chinese.

The eight trigram of Tai Chi is one of the cognitive forms of "Tao” in ancient China.
 
With the development of ancient Chinese society, abacus math integrated the previous algorithm ideas and experience and officially entered the historical arena. In the Eastern Han Dynasty, the abacus math appeared in the form of "Youzhu". After a long period of development, the abacus with a similar structure”the upper and lower frame,the middle beam and beads" was officially formed in the end of the Tang Dynasty. Its emergence is a collection of the previous 13 algorithms and the beginning of computing culture from maturity to its summit.
 
Abacus is the crystallization of the wisdom of the ancient Chinese people. It uses complicated equations and high-order root to constantly uncover the laws behind everything. For the sky, it calculates the operation of the sun, the moon and the stars, and divides it into four seasons and create solar terms. For the land, it is used in river measurement, land dividing, and water conservancy controlling. For people, it calculates the gains and losses, size of measurement and promotes businesses to the whole world. For all things, it explores the truth behind numbers, principles as well as yin and yang, sets the temperament, and measures the world. Abacus is not only a daily calculation method for Chinese people, but also an important tool for Chinese ancients to understand the world, explore the law, and seek the "Tao" of nature.

Traditional abacus structure
 
At the same time, the abacus is also a concentrated embodiment of Chinese culture's emphasis on "people". It combines people and tools, and abacus masters can often achieve the "Integration of abacus and self". In such cases people become the abacus of high-speed calculation, concentrating and preserving, efficient and accurate. This kind of concentration has enabled many abacus masters to develop deeper thinking skills. Many masters have begun to think about the relationship between Man and the world, man and the universe through self-consciousness and other means. That is to explore the truth of the “Tao” in another way.
 
In modern society, the abacus was gradually replaced by electronic computers. We can use computers to discover the more profound laws of the universe. However, abacus has not withdrawn from the stage of history, and its role in promoting people is still of great significance to China and even to human society. Abacus math and abacus mental math can effectively improve children's concentration, develop graphic memory, and cultivate the quality of truth-seeking. Open the door of mental enlightenment in an advanced way of “basic understanding – skillful - proficient – excellent - automatic”.
 
In the 20 years' educational experience of abacus mental math, Shenmo Education started with the growth law of abacus "basic understanding – skillful - proficient – excellent - automatic" through the way of "practice on the abacus, feel in the heart", combining Chinese traditional culture and modern scientific conclusions. Therefore the essence is abstracted and summarized in depth and Shenmo gradually formed a complete and self-consistent law theory. It has become another exploration for "law of truth" of “calculation culture” in modern times. 

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