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US and China head to deepen Art and Cultural ties, China to Invest in Hollywood

In August, Fenton will be taking a group of U.S. lawmakers to China to look at the country's growing entertainment and media industry, with the hope of even more Chinese investment in Hollywood

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U.S. first lady Melania Trump and China's first lady Peng Liyuan listen as students perform for them during a visit to Bak Middle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida,Source-VOA
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Los Angeles, May 24, 2017: On the political and military front, U.S.-China relations have been an often-tense dance between governments. However, in arts and education, many say the relationship is deepening. There is debate among Americans as to whether the ties are positive or negative.

Some say this is progress that is reaping economic and cultural benefits for citizens in both countries.

“When people collaborate on making anything artistic, there’s an emotional pull inside of that and if it works well, you not only have a great business, you also have a great diplomatic cohesion between the two countries,” said Chris Fenton, U.S.-Asia Institute Trustee and the President of DMG Entertainment.

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In August, Fenton will be taking a group of U.S. lawmakers to China to look at the country’s growing entertainment and media industry, with the hope of even more Chinese investment in Hollywood.

On Jan. 21, 2011, then-Chinese President Hu Jintao visits the The Confucius Institute which is housed at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago.
On Jan. 21, 2011, then-Chinese President Hu Jintao visits The Confucius Institute which is housed at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago. VOA

 

Chinese language and culture

China has also been investing in educating Americans in language and culture through its Confucius Institutes. Mandarin immersion kindergarten teacher Carol Chen says the University of California Los Angeles Confucius Institute has been a good resource for her and her students.

“For example, books and also resources of our Chinese cultures. One of the years, they actually brought Chinese folk culture tradition to the campus,” said Chen, who teaches at Broadway Elementary, a dual language immersion school.

Funded by the Chinese government, there are nearly 500 Confucius Institutes globally, most on university campuses. The UCLA Confucius Institute taps into the local Mandarin-speaking population to develop a pipeline of Mandarin teachers. It also provides cross-cultural programs in the arts.

“Bringing more artists together and exposing them to each other’s culture and to shared cultural experience with China, you’re sort of training, sort of a new generation of diplomats,” said Susan Pertel Jain, UCLA Confucius Institute Executive Director.

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But long-time critic and academic Perry Link says Confucius Institutes are an example of China’s soft power.

“Soft power is cultural or educational things that cause people in other countries to view one’s own country in a more friendly way. To reach out into the world with soft power is a new thing from the Chinese government’s point of view, but an important thing because the rest of the successful world seems to be doing it,” said Link, who is the University of California Riverside’s Chancellorial Chair for Innovation in Teaching Across Disciplines.

But Link says the presence of the Confucius Institutes on university campuses is dangerous because it often limits academic freedom to discuss China’s human rights issues.

“It’s induced self-censorship. That is, ‘We are going to give you these funds and you can invite speakers about China and the fund comes from Beijing and you know that and we know that.’ Now, as the director of a Confucius Institute, do you think, ‘Oh, I’ll invite the Dalai Lama’ to speak? No.Of course you don’t do that,” Link said.

But Jain said the UCLA Confucius Institute does not back away from touchy topics.

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“Whether it’s artists that we present there who were active in sort of [an] anti-government movement or whether it’s the screening of films that are maybe not officially approved by the government, we don’t shy away from that, but what we always tell our colleagues in China is that we promise to always present everything in a fair and balanced way,” said Jain.

The Hollywood Sign is pictured Aug. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles.

The Hollywood Sign is pictured Aug. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles.

Entertainment industry

In the past, Hollywood movies have been America’s example of soft power.

Last fall, 16 members of Congress wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office to express national security concerns about the growing number of Chinese investments in the United States, including in the media and entertainment industry.

“There is definitely a self-censorship. There is no doubt. I think the most obvious version of that was when self-censorship was not used and it really backfired,” said Fenton.

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China is close to becoming the top global market at the box office and one that is much desired by Hollywood executives. If China closes that door to certain production studios in Hollywood, it will hurt financially.

“It’s a very large piece of the pie because it’s roughly seven billion in dollars,” Fenton said. “If you’re thinking like a business person, there is a certain creative vision you should have for the content you’re making that if you want to call it self-censorship that’s fine, or you call it just good business.”(VOA)

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Ayahuasca: The Spiritual Journey Hollywood Is Talking About

The experience is deeply spiritual, intensely psychological and can be stunningly self illuminating

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Ayahuasca means “Vine of the Spirit” or “Vine of the Dead”. Ayahuasca tea is typically made by mixing Chakruna leaves and Ayahuasca vine. This is considered to have healing properties and is popular in South America. Image
Ayahuasca means “Vine of the Spirit” or “Vine of the Dead”. Ayahuasca tea is typically made by mixing Chakruna leaves and Ayahuasca vine. This is considered to have healing properties and is popular in South America. Image Credit: Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center

Everyone in Hollywood is talking about ayahuasca and, most especially, the Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat.

The retreat center is an eight day fully immersive program that include: meditation, yoga, workshops, ayahuasca ceremonies and other activities that finally allow one to confront repetitive behavior patterns to experience lasting life change.

Everything is designed to fully prepare people for the ayahuasca experience–and that includes a special “Spirit Vine” diet. While not a fast, it can be compared to the centuries-old tradition, allowing people to focus deeply and experience deep self-awareness–a spiritual purging, if you will.

“Ayahuasca is a therapy for the spirit, where we can discover the real cause of our problems. We go to places which are not commonly accessible, and it’s profound–so every element, including diet, is designed to prepare people to face their demons,” explains Silvia Polivoy, Ph.D,  founder of Spirit Vine Retreats.

Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center is situated in Bahia, Brazil
Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center is situated in Bahia, Brazil. Image Credit: Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center

Polivoy even recommends that people start their vegetarian/vegan meals–organic, free of gluten, salt, sugar, fermented foods and all additives and flavorings–a few days before coming to the retreat.

“This way people can be lighter and physically cleaner before they arrive. Ayahuasca makes people purge what is not good for them anymore–both physically and emotionally–so by detoxing physically, they can cleanse more deeply spiritually.”

She continued: “Some meat-eaters are a little apprehensive at first, but then discover how wonderful eating a meat-free diet can make them feel. In fact, some of them even decide to follow the diet permanently after the retreat.”

WHAT IS THE SPIRIT VINE AYAHUASCA RETREAT CENTER?

For thousands of years indigenous peoples living in the rainforest regions across South and Central America have used the powerful hallucinogenic brew or tea known as ayahuasca, the “spirit vine” or “vine of the dead.”

ayahuasca
Ayahuasca.

The Western World is taking note, and visitors now include Hollywood celebrities, actors, spiritual leaders and well-known authors.

Ayahuasca tea is made by combining two plants known in South America for its medicinal and visionary properties.

When brewed together, these plants produce a mind-expanding, modified state of consciousness that enables the participant to experience a deeper spiritual journey, receiving messages from soul wisdom that enables one to release fears, traumas and awaken to their real life’s purpose.

Ayahuasca tea is the center of the Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center of Brazil.

Silvia Polivoy, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist for, for 20 years, had her own private practice specializing in altered states of consciousness.

She studied in Mexico, spending time with the shamans there and decided to focus her efforts solely on the spiritual realm. “Everything is energy,” she says, “and even one’s dreams have meaning.”

Ayahuasca sends users into intense far-flung realms of an epic visionary quest. It offers intense introspection and piercing insight into one’s own deepest mind and essence.

The experience is deeply spiritual, intensely psychological and can be stunningly self illuminating.

Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center is situated in Bahia, Brazil
Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center is situated in Bahia, Brazil. Image Credit: Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center

A LIFE OF HARMONY

Silvia Polivoy Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist with more than 20 years experience as a therapist. She started as a psychoanalyst and moved on to transactional analysis and transpersonal psychology.

Deeply interested in the field of modified consciousness, her work led her to the investigation of the psychotropic effects of natural plant substance and their possibilities for exploring human consciousness.

While Polivoy doesn’t consider herself a shaman, she does draw from the relationship that exists between the invisible realms and the realm of ordinary life as we know it–by incorporating her experience as a psychotherapist she does employ many shamanic tools with hypnotherapy and altered states of consciousness.

Shamans, she points out, were considered the first physicians and are seen as diagnosticians, therapists, religious counselors, storytellers and performance artists.

“ The difference between them and conventional practitioners iis the way shamans manipulate energy to enter the invisible world at will through altered states while maintaining self-control as they move within and without.”

In 2004, Polivoy co-founded The Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Spiritual Center whose purpose is to bring this experience to the modern world. The eight-day fully immersive program includes yoga, meditation, workshops (such thing as past and future regressions, intuitive solutions, aligning with your higher self, and more).  A gluten free, additive free vegetarian/vegan/ organic diet, with the complete elimination of salt, sugar, and any fermented foods, is included. Alcohol, tobacco and drugs are prohibited and strictly enforced.

“Safety is our main priority, ,” said Polivoy, “and we’re not commercial–we don’t sell ayahuasca nor do we just give ceremonies. We don’t accept just anyone, but only take those who understand the value of this program.”

ayahuasca
Ayahuasca.

THE AYAHUASCA CEREMONY

While they don’t just give ceremonies, it is an important part of the program.

Polivoy and a highly-trained staff lead their participants through what is called “a spirit vine ceremony, what can only be called an intense spiritual journey and awakening of self awareness, developed through uncounted centuries of traditional practice, indigenous rainforest shamans guided their people in structured sessions.

Experiencers drink the tea. “But you can still have the ayahuasca experience without it,” says Polivoy.  “Often, participants will come to experience the program, but cannot drink the tea, whether for medical or other reasons. Of course it’s better to be free of all medications and chemicals, but if that’s not possible, you can still learn plenty of tools to help you get through life.”

As the subsequent powerful consciousness-expanding effects unfold, assisting guides and healers watch over them to facilitate the process.

“Some who come to partake in a Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat might be struggling with depression, addiction or some kind of anxiety disorder or phobia,” Polivoy said, “while others may simply be on a spiritual journey and want to find a doorway that can springboard them into a higher state of consciousness or enlightenment.”

She continues:  “They all have one thing in common; that is, they are seekers.  However, ayahuasca tea is powerful and should ONLY be done in a supervised setting.

The effect is long-lasting and Polivoy says it’s common for her to receive letters from past participants, such as one who said he was still experiencing sharp perceptions, such as brighter colors, more acute hearing, and peak performances in reasoning, weeks after attending a retreat.

“Just about everyone finds the Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat a profoundly transformative lifetime experience,” Polivoy said. “We constantly witness lot of peoples’ amazing transformations after only one week at our ayahuasca retreat.”

Also read: Ways in which Ayahuasca Tourism Proves to be a Threat for Tradition Plant Based Medicines

She continues:  “BUT I want to emphasize that success isn’t just coming from drinking ayahuasca tea, it is the combination of that with workshops, a special diet, yoga, meditation, group shares, etc.  We teach people tools to discover the cause of their behavioral patterns to they can understand, and integrate, the lessons after they go back home.”