Wisdom of Cultural Inheritance

To live with fertility and harmony without hurting others, might be the most basic endeavor of human civilization. But to arrive at this lifestyle, one needs wisdom, pragmatism, and faith as tools. These tools of life, developed over time, produces what we deem to be “culture”. Especially within the Chinese culture, many traditions of daily life are infused with the wisdom of greater thinkers and philosophers, passed down generation after generation. Foreign friends might be intrigued by or compliment on the effortless beauty of calligraphy, the seemingly magic of acupuncture, and such special cultural artifices, but they might not be able to understand with depth the art of tea, the pondering of the moon on a Mid-Autumn night, and other more multifaceted aspects of Chinese cultural wisdom.

Every one of us hopes to be unique, to be noticed by others; but we also wants to feel a sense of belonging. Our own distinct culture is the medium with which we communicate with our family and loved ones, and it is also the source of that sense of belonging and acknowledgement. We strive to create our own identity, but do not wish to distance ourselves from others, this is a daily tug-of-war for all of us.

But in the fast-paced world of today, it is easy for people to borrow and combine in the process of cultural intersections. And even easier to create the fleeting popular culture. This trend hopes to turn all things into the relatively uniformed. For a culture like China’s, rich in value and deep in wisdom, we are beginning to lose the patience needed to appreciate it. If we are to succumb to these modern circumstances, we will lose the connection to a tradition that can speak to the bottom of our hearts. One day, we may find ourselves lost in a state of  detachment; we might not be able to interact with other people, even worse, we might lose contact with ourselves. Of course, cultures change, no one culture can endure the winds of time and history. But I still believe we should accept the changes of new, without losing the memories of the old.

Living in the modern family of today, it is very difficult to resist the constant need to feel fulfilled. Our urge to quickly complete all the task at hand causes us to lose our patience towards the details. We are on the threshold of a change, about to forgo the wisdom of inheritance and tradition. We seem to think that sitting down to wait for a cup tea to cool to the right temperature is a mere waste of time, but we don’t seem to appreciate that this process is what makes life so full and valuable.

In regards to our own cultural traditions, we are not only responsible for understanding and carrying it out, but also for relaying it to the future generations. The ocean of Chinese culture is as deep as it is powerful, stemming from Laozi to Zhuangzi and many others who has showered us with their thoughts wisdom, all the down to the culturally astute people of today. The stream flows continuously with no sign of slowing down.

China’s Adjustment Period

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PREFACE: This article is me trying to stand up and speak out for the “unpopular, uncool” kid in HS who suddenly becomes extremely popular and “cool”, much to the despise of the current establishment, the “rich, cool, popular” kids. In this case, the kid who all of a sudden becomes popular is China.

I have met many individuals both living in and outside of China, both Chinese and foreign, who when speaking upon the subject of China, would often incessantly indulge upon its lack of political transparency, plethora of social injustice, and the ever-mounting environmental and judicial issues. Yes. These problems do exist and sometimes are far worse and widespread than they are advertised. And No. One shouldn’t use the standard of a developed nation who has had 230+ yrs of history, no warfare on its mainland in the past 150 yrs, with a population of 300 million to judge a developing country with 60+ yrs of history, 4 major warfare on its mainland in the past century, with a population of 1.4 billion. Individuals who move into a new environment (college, new city, college to pro sports, etc.) would often need some time to get acquainted to the new settings, let alone an entire society of 1.4 billion.

And this society hasn’t really been raised under the “best situation” since Mao won the civil war and establish the People’s Republic in 1949, Chinese society has been put through a roller-coaster ride filled with ups and downs of hunger, poverty, nature disaster, and political turbulence. Soon after 1949, Mao started the 5-yr Plan followed by the Great Leap Forward, which turned out to be absolutely failures sending the already backwards China even more back in time. After that, natural disasters hit China severely for several yrs, then followed by the “Red Flood” of Mao’s own personal vendetta rampages aka the “Cultural Revolution” in the 1966-76 that literally wasted a generation’s youth while sending China back another 30 yrs in economic and agriculture development as a nation. Only after 1978 did they abandon the crazy-ass Maoist reforms under Deng Xiaoping, and thus resume the now crumbling education system with only a few universities to serve as centers of higher education. It was only since the middle 80s, when Deng’s policies of “gai ge kai fang” (economic change and openness), did China really open its doors to Capitalism and began to expand and grow as a nation, now known for its cheap labor and hard-work instead of famines and poverty (though both still pervades some areas).

It seems obvious, but look at all the bullshit that the new China has been through in the since it’s inception 60 yrs ago. Sure they are but history now, but they impacted generations before they came and went, and those scars can never be undone. It has been only 30 yrs since China has actually had a relatively stable environment to grow and prosper and look at how much has changed in such as short amount of time. When I was born, the train stations in most cities rivaled that of refugee-camps in third world countries (minus the Red cross tents), now there is an airport in every major city and most are far more extravagant  and lavish than its American counterparts.

I know what I’m saying might not be entirely accurate, but I am trying to be a nice guy, trying to speak up for the “new kid” as he adjust to his new life. All I’m saying is “give him a lil more time” and everything will get better.

Coldest When it’s About to get Warm

This is an idea that is much easily understood when it is “self-experienced” rather than being explained to or told about. But I am a very stubborn person, so I am going to try the impossible.

It’s actually a very universal idea, in regards that it can be applied to almost anything and would fit right in. Let’s start with the seasons and the changing of the planetary weather on earth. The hottest time of the year is around summer solstice (which is June 13th this yr), it’s “official definition” is that it occurs exactly when the axial tilt of a planet’s semi-axis in a given hemisphere is most inclined towards the star that it orbits, basically when earth looks at the sun and says “what’s up”. Summer solstice is also the exact same time that the earth starts to “get cold”, this occurrence is not manifested in temps above ground, but the earth itself is actually getting colder by the day as it continues to turn. Basically the idea is that the start of any conversation is the when the conversation begins to end. I hope you don’t think I am a dumbo for stating the obvious.

How can this be applied to other things? Well let’s talk about my training at shaolin, using the logic establish above, the most painful and hardest moments of training is actually the beginning of my success and the good times. So if we can add this layer of understanding to our thinking, we can definitely introduce a new color to our spectrum of life. However, it can also offer a harsh dose of reality, using this logic, when you are reaching the apex of your success in life, it is also when you begin the downfall of your failures. It is true, we see this in athletes that play more years than they should, and than their body allow them to. AKA Shaq.

Overall, this little fact of nature here shows us that there exists cycles in life that we are unable to change. But by understanding these cycles we can view our current lives with a more accurate perspective, and take out some of the “stubbornness”, “over-confidence”, and “ostensible bliss” that can sometimes cloud our judgement.

PS: The above is written by a Chinese dude training at a temple in china, so it’s completely normal if you don’t understand, if you are an Aussie,  sorry just know that I didn’t write this for y’all.

China’s Implicit Social-Contract: The glue that keeps things toegther

When J.J. Rousseau wrote about social contracts in his “On the Social Contract” (which I am sure most of you have read), contemporaries reacted as if he had discovered Pluto. Though explosively genius in his writings and thoughts, Rousseau had simply pointed out an occurrence so ancient and obvious, that most people today seem to have forgotten it.

China being the “special” thing that it is, has it’s own version of almost everything; Socialism (with Chinese characteristics), the Chinese Calender, the Chinese Zodiac, the Chinese Basketball Association, Chinese “iphones”, etc. So of course it is only fair that it also has it’s own version of the “social contract”.

The most recent parties involved in this contract were the “Chinese Communist Party” and the majority of the Chinese population (mainly comprised of farmers without a middle school diploma), they say this document was officially signed in 1949, but no evidence remain. Like all things related to the Chinese Communist Party, it is best when kept on the DL, so this contract is an “implicit” one. More so than anyone on this planet, the Chinese people fear luan or chaos, it is something we inherit from our ancestors and pass down generation after generation through “Tiger Moms”. This fear of social instability or messiness in general is the main reason that despite having a lot less freedom and more injustice than all other world powers, China still garners one of the most stable and tranquil societies in the world, even if it’s a result of fists and not hugs. Lower educational standards and less creative classes help too, but as more and more Chinese are entering American colleges, things aren’t what they use to be.

But the thing about this contract is that as long as there is no “big shit going down”, like the farmer revolts that seem to plague China every 150 yrs or so, and the economy continues to inflate, the Chinese people won’t mind that their internet is more censored than in North Korea, or the fact they can’t go on facebook or own firearms. Because in this world, freedom can be bought while stability has to be fought (in most cases). Who knows if the contract will be rewritten in the decades to come, but for now as long as there is state-televised programs to watch, food on the table, and Japan is still “public enemy #1”, people will be content or so it seems.