Real Charm over Race, Religion and Poverty

Since I read James McBride’s “The Color of Water” that touched me so much a few weeks ago, I stopped blogging and posting on social media to review my goals on peace and doing good through writing.

The Color of Water

The mother was a Jewish immigrant who was sexually abused by her own father and then disowned when she married a black man later turned pastor. She married another black man after her first husband died. Altogether she had twelve children with varying shades in skin color. They all turned out well in career and life due to her focus on their education and taking responsibilities in their upbringing.They all loved her dearly despite of her poor cooking and her having very little time to spare on each of them.

Her life of intense conflicts better illustrates the  teachings of Chuang Tzu that I have tried so hard to share on the Free Easy Mind book site, Freeasypeace blog, facebook and twitter. She just ignored any discrimination and got on with what needed to be done at the moment, providing the best examples of Chuang Tzu’s “treat the opposing as non-opposing” and the way of Zen.

Real life stories provide better insights than teachings of any kind. Though the life story of Su Shih’s conflicts, migration, love and loss or living in poverty had helped me to understand my roots in Chinese culture, tradition and mentality that I want to share with the world in the Millennium Charm book site, but the mother’s life is a better illustration.

The decapitation of a four-year-old girl near a Taipei MRT station had stirred a frenzy on local social media as well as the general media in  Taiwan from death penalties to revenge and locking up the mentally ill. Despite her grief, the mother was very sensible  and wise to state that legislation for death penalty or punishing the killer would not do any good and pleaded that netizens or the public to stop consuming her dead daughter on social media or any media. She called for all donations to be directed to charities instead of her family as well as Taiwan’s society, communities and families to work together to make random killing and violence disappear.What a strong and wise mother of charm!

I have been procrastinating on this post to wrap up my blogging until the final wake up call of the decapitated girl.Conflicts and violence affect us financially, emotionally and maybe sooner or later physically around the world. (See another post on Freeasy Peace Blog) I need to align my writing passion, bilingual competence and the real needs in the world to do good that can really make a difference and use more time and efforts more effectively.

Will stop posting and focus  on writing a novel to figure out how to do good more effectively when we don’t know what we can do to change that seems impossible for us to change. Meanwhile I will also keep my eyes open on more practical and feasible opportunities to make a difference in doing good locally or internationally as well as acquiring better knowledge on more effective social media posting and blogging.(However if I do come across a book or anything that compels me to share, I might blog once in a blue moon.)

Thanks for all your visits, likes and follows, but I will read the blogs I follow to gain better understanding of the blogosphere. May you all have freeasy peace and daily living charm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Noble Think behind the Nobel Minds

The 2015 Nobel Laureate of literature Svetlana Alexievich captured my heart with her “Voices of Chernobyl”, I was drawn to BBC’s “Nobel Mind’ Roundtable because I wanted to hear what she had to say.Yet I was enlightened by the way of thinking honestly shared by other Nobel Laureates in economics or the various sciences on issues of life and the world.

There was a common thread in their research: it is curiosity or the passion to understand science, things or how the world works and to resolve paradox. Some mentioned the interest in scientific challenge. None set out to win the prize or even help anyone out of compassion. Three of them gave up their original career as doctor after a year or two. The economist Angus Deaton’s statement on the real reward that was most memorable, “it is the Aha moment when only God and I understand the process” . For Svetlana Alexievich, it is to understand human nature or history of the human soul.

When the issue of inequality was discussed, the Turkish Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. Aziz Sancar, was very direct in pointing out it was the free education in Turkey that made his career possible. He came from a family of eight children with illiterate parents. He could not understand why universal healthcare or even Obama Care would be such a big problem in his adopted country of US when everyone in Turkey has been taking it for granted for decades.

“Talk of benevolence and righteousness and the path of right and wrong are all entangled. How can I discern them? ” Chuang Tzu.

The economist Angus Deaton discounted foreign aid to developing countries, he thought the money should go to people like the Nobel Laureates in medicine to conduct research and find solutions to River Blindness or Malaria helping millions of people in the underdeveloped world. The outspoken Turkish Laureate turned to William Campbell the expert on tropical parasites and called him the hero he most envies.

William Campbell  is not only a scientist but also poet and painter on worms.

Campbell-book-2-300x214 Parasite-window-768x1024 Tapeworms-yellow-238x300 Hookworm-with-tapeworms-228x300
The BBC moderator commented on the paradox of his love for worms and the success of his research in killing them. He advocated for the worm as simply “doing what they do” and not the villain out to make people blind. The program ended with his crying out loud in the worm’s shoe, “I don’t need your god damn eye, I just need a piece of skin big enough to drop a few larvae so there is a pickup and delivery.”

“All life is but simply what is and all appear to be doing what they rightfully should.”Chuang Tzu.

When asked about how Nobel Prize would change her life, Svetlana Alexievich said it would not even though the responsibility may seem greater. Imprinted in my mind are her simple lines of “you just do what you do, you do it as well as you can” and “freedom matures in ourselves” (referring to false expectation of freedom in Russia when asked about Ukraine her motherland).

The noble mind is simple and true to one’s nature or passion and not determined altruism to save the world.Good outcome are just window dressings.

Drowning Strangers

X’mas Eve I watched a re-run of CNN heroes and was really inspired by Maggie Doyne, an eighteen year old who became a mom of fifty kids in Nepal from her US$5,000 savings of babysitting money. But the street doctor Dr. Wither’s  “I didn’t go under bridges to save homeless people. I went there to  save myself and perhaps my profession” really stuck to my mind.

I was shocked to find Maggie Doyne’s adorable baby Ravi whom she saved a year ago died from an accident just around New Year. Loss would be too painful to bear at her young age and yet Ravi was very fortunate to have her lavish motherly love at least for many months. Her natural role becoming a mother with a large family of children makes me jealous, since junior high I had always been attracted to volunteering at orphanages and a few years ago went to Africa to help start a school at an orphanage.But J.K.Rowlings’ work of deinstitutionalization of children in the world at her Lumos charity would be my choice after what I experienced. Not everyone has as much love and energy as Maggie.

Ravi

I blogged about the homeless in the library but the other day a librarian was beaten by a reader. A nun has been hallucinogenic and yelling loudly from time to time.There are many people with mental illness at the library, some homeless, some angry and disturbed, some schizophrenic. Most of them are babyboomers and once in a while there are students breaking down from the pressure of exams,mumbling and walking back and forth in the courtyard.I wish there were street psychiatrists who would help treat them at the library.Unfortunately psychiatry resources are inadequate even in Taiwan’s medical facilities.

Before the new year, I was struggling to decide if I should continue with my plan to combine writing and doing good through donations of book sales (that do not seem to be working) or do some actual good that would benefit people immediately around me. The homeless and the mentally disturbed would be closest, yet I must admit I am afraid of them and don’t know how to handle them let alone help.Homeless and elderly resources are very limited in Taiwan.

I visited a young couple who started a very successful community on reading and doing good according to the media only to find their target audience of millennials hardly read books and they have trouble paying even their project workers from income on classes for corporations.

The mayor commented he could not understand why seniors  account for almost 25% of traffic accidents. I blogged about seniors getting run over before. After talking to some friends at the senior center about my advocating for seniors on safer traffic regulations or public health and safety in urban living, they all feel it will amount to nothing given the Taiwanese mentality and bureacracies and encourage me to keep on going with my writing projects. Senior welfare though loudly promoted, it’s window dressing in reality.

Book reviews of Larissa MacFarquhar’s “Drowning Strangers” on doing good came to the rescue. Hope my recommendations for purchase at the library will come through soon.

Strangers Drowning Morality ExtremityDrowning Strangers
“Keep yourself well before you keep others well.”Chuang Tzu.

 

 

What is Success?

A Swiss professor teaching religion in US but had spent a couple decades in Japan gave a talk yesterday and contrasted Japanese temples on the verge of extinction and the thriving Buddhist Mountains in Taiwan. Another American professor of Buddhism posed the question if economic flourish or visibility is the criteria for success?

After the talk I went up and asked the Swiss professor about Thich Nhat Hahn’s version of Chinese Buddhism drawing huge crowds of followers worldwide despite his modest financial support from his book sales while Taiwanese Buddhism has limited share of voice in the West compared to Tibetan, Japanese Zen or Theravadan Buddhism despite building opulent temples and massive investments in charity events around the world.See temple in South Africa.Taiwanese Temple in South Africa

Pu Shien Shrine.jpg

By Japanese or Chinese standard, Thich Nhat Hahn would be considered Chinese Buddhism rather than Zen. If we ask an average Westerner on the street, most would think Zen is Japanese rather than Chinese.And then many Taiwanese Buddhist groups condemn Theravadan or Small Vehicle Buddhism (that is closer to the Buddha’s original teachings than Chinese Buddhism that is a combination of Indian Buddhism, Confucian or Chinese adaptations and folkloric deities) for not doing good but focused on self cultivation. (It reminds me of Protestant, Catholic, Islam and Judaism are all of Abrahamic root.)

Reported by Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and various international media, Kazuo Inamori, the Zen Buddhist Priest Billionnaire who turned around Japan Airline Paging Buddha said, “No need to be isolated from the world to find enlightenment, you should find in your own work…….the financial aspects of work are very few when compared to the actual capacity that it has to increase the value of your soul.”

Hideko Yamasita  blended concepts Buddhism and Yoga in  her whirlwind bestsellers of Danshari (minimal living for fulfilled life) in Japan and Asia. What is success? Gaudy temples or impressive charity functions around the world or actual incorporation of Buddhism in business and  daily living charm?

Yamasita’s books has not been translated in English yet Marie Kondo’s books on life changing magic of tidying up (a much watered down version of Danshari) is a whirlwind in the West.

Who is a bigger success ?

 

 

 

 

Calligraphy East and West

When Isabelle brilliantly combined traditional Chinese and English in her calligraphy drafts, Thich Nhat Hahn’s English calligraphy immediately came to mind. View a video on his calligraphy meditation.

Compare the renowned Cold Meal Scroll in semi-cursive script by Su Shih (1037-1101) with his friend’s cursive calligraphy . The cursive style can be wild and illegible, but this one is more restrained.

Cold Meal Scroll  Cursive Calligraphy

Isabelle’s calligraphy is mostly semi-cursive and cursive scripts. “Running script” is the semi-cursive form and “grass script” is the cursive. The running aspect of this script has more to do with the formation and connectedness of strokes within an individual character.

After working  at the Science and Technology Division at Taipei Representative Office in Europe and UK  for many years, Isabelle Chen Chia Yu pursues her passion in Calligraphy and  Chinese painting of flowers and birds after retirement.

Isabelle and Calligraphy  Isabelle and Calligraphy 1 Isabelle's long calligraphy 1

Isabelle's long calligraphy 2

Many thanks for her support in donating six works on favorite quotes of Chuang Tzu and Su Shih for promoting their thoughts and way of life with the ebooks Free Easy Mind and Millennium Charm on Amazon for the cause of Anders Home.

We worked under the same boss many years ago when she was a librarian and myself a science editor at National Science Council in Taiwan. Ten years later we were colleagues again for a couple years when she was working on international science cooperation and myself on science policy research after a switch to marketing. It is inconceivable that our path would cross again decades later on calligraphy and writing on ancient Chinese wisdom and way of life to bridge East and West for peace.