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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Love, Charm for Living or Seed of Suffering?

Hungary is the featured country at the Taipei Book Fair last week. Though there were illustrious poet and children book author as well as interesting cultural events such as dance, arts,crafts and food, I was drawn to the film director’s talk on his first novel. It was based on his parents’ love letters after they survived the holocaust and his father had terminal tuberculosis.He defied death by writing 117 letters to women at a refugee camp in Sweden to find  a wife. “I won’t give myself up to fate.”


Fever at Dawn

He wrote it as a screenplay script originally but could not finance the production. After trying a decade he wrote it as a novel. It was “the talk of London Book Fair” and sold in a nine-way auction. The Chinese translation is available in Taiwan but English would not be available at Amazon till April. A film adaption of the story will be released this year. See trailer below.

This powerful story of love against destiny had a happy ending, the author’s father lived till 1998. Westerners and the younger generation would find it inspiring. The following quotes present different perspectives of destiny, love and loss.

“The troubled mind initially has no roots of problems; love and indebtedness are the seeds.” Su Shih.”To remove waves from the sea of suffering, dry the river of love.”

Su Shih, the millennium charm or best loved character in Chinese culture was three times a widower. His first wife and love of his life died at the young age of twenty-seven. His second wife was a cousin of his first wife who arranged the marriage so her young son would be well cared for. He did not really love his second wife but was greatly indebted to her for caring for the family, in particular he moved countless times due to his career and exile during her life time. His beautiful young concubine was only fourteen at their wedding and their infant son died on the trip when he was recalled from exile. His most beloved beauty fairy died at her early thirties in the wild south during his second exile.He fought long and hard with destiny throughout his life but did not have the luck the Hungarian couple had. His love and loss were not limited to spouse and family, he had many friends and relatives who loved him so much but lost their lives indirectly for him during his exiles.

“Life and death is a matter of destiny, just like day and night is the law of the universe.” Chuang Tzu.

My late husband fought vigorously for ten years with cancer that was diagnosed after the birth of our only son less than a year after our wedding. He won the combat only to be diagnosed with heart failure caused by radiotherapy treatment a decade ago.We struggled with heart failures on and off for another nine years until he refused life support when his heart finally failed waiting for a heart transplant. Altogether we fought for twenty-five years of agonizing medical ordeals because of our deep love for our son, my husband stayed alive so his son would have a complete family. He lived to see his son graduated from college,completed his military service and started on his first job in his dream industry.

 

 

What Can We Do in Human Disasters?

We have been suffering tremendous loss this Chinese New Year from the collapsed apartment building in southern Taiwan due to earthquake. Over ninty people had died as of today’s statistics. The bright yellow lanterns with the slogan of “nation prosperous,people safe” written in red hanging in front of the collapsed building right next to the tin cans stacked up inside the pillar are most ironic. It is a human disaster surfaced by a natural disaster.

The developer and architects were swiftly arrested due to international reporters’ wide coverage of the tin cans. There were reports that the developer ran out of money before the building completion and then changed his name a couple of times to avoid the debtors, but he has been the developer for many other buildings in the area under different names. He claimed the building is over twenty years old and he cannot be held responsible for the earthquake induced collapse, the architects brushed off responsibility saying they were not involved in the building process and just loaned their licences to the developer.How can justice ever be served for all those who lost their lives or loved ones and homes even if all three were sentenced for life?

Back in 1999 another serious earthquake, pillars were also found to be made of cooking oil containers and styrofoam, yet a few days ago a professional organization leader in building construction still claimed that they were legitimate because the pillars were merely decors and would be too heavy if concrete were used. A whole wall was later found to be made of styrofoam inside.

.      Taiwan-Earthquake-660x400   taiwan-lies-in-the-pacific-ring-of-fire--where-90-of-the-planets-earthquakes-occur

taiwan-earthquake (2)  taiwan-earthquake (1)

Local news also reported the landlady  who owned first to fourth floors had removed many pillars and walls to facilitate renting to large outlets.The renter, a huge chain of electronic outlets like Best Buy or Fry’s in US, made official statements that they had not changed any structures in the rented space.

Public safety has always been a big issue in Taiwan. From time to time, we have had human disasters such as the water park (June,2015) or the gas pipe (2014) explosion with hundreds injured and many dead.Yet only one person who organized the event was sentenced to just a few years but the water park owner got away without a hair touched and the penalties for those responsible for the gas pipes were probably so light that I could not even recall if they were penalized or not.

Corporations have always been generous in disaster donations, this time  ranging from a million to fifty millions (USD 30,000 to 1.5 million). There were conflicts between the ones paying and families of water park explosion victims who were accused as greedy, just hope money matters would not be so ugly this time. But over a hundred households lost their homes, some were first-time owners with mortgage to pay. It would be a very difficult legal process even though the assets of the developer and architects were already frozen by court order but they would amount to nothing compared to what all of them lost.

Many  donated food, water,clothes or volunteered to help in the rescue. The people in charge had to broadcast in the media for people to stop donating food because there was a surplus.An Italian journalist commented on the kindness of Taiwanese offering him free water and food, yet a woman volunteer from Rotary Club was attacked on social media for wearing red on such tragic occasion but in tears she defended herself for shooting a video fundraising with international Rotary clubs. There were conflicts between the family members and rescue team on strategies as well.

Medical support seemed more organized than the water park explosion(that sparked fierce accusations of an oncology hospital refusing to accept burnt patients even though they don’t have the facilities or means), but there was little mention on emotional or pyschological support and assistance.Some nearby hotels were very generous in offering accommodations for the families and rescuers.

Back in the 1999 earthquake, I had a great urge to do something to help and called up many organizations to see if I could avail myself to help but regretfully ended up doing translation for a Buddhist organization that just wanted to propagandize their relief merits internationally.Though every time I watch the news on TV in the past week, my heart cries for the deceased and family, I keep asking myself what are some needs that I am capable of offering help. I envied a seventy-year-old lady who was a victim in the 1999 earthquake she could really help with charm because she had experienced it first hand. Frankly I wrangled my brain and hated to conclude I would be more a burden than help in the rescue.

The media uncovered a report on many districts with soil liquidification problems that needs to be addressed in order to withstand earthquakes or floods. May be how to prevent human disasters in future would be just as crucial. The Taipei mayor elected last year was as popular as Bernie Sanders and went after a developer of a coliseum project like  Sanders on banks yet the whole matter is still dangling for months with insurmountable issues and continuous financial losses assumed by all taxpayers.

The key is how to restore the conscience of the developers, bankers or business people despite the need to pursue profits as well as workers fulfilling responsibility for what they are paid to do. When they have so much power in covering up that even the handful of government officials who really wanted to do something about it were at a loss and had to let it go. What can the public do even they have the right to vote or protest?

Is there a magic charm to awaken the conscience?

Maybe one heart or mind at a time. Unfortunately it might be faster through international pressure.

 

 

Charm in Loss

Every time I read the cab ride post on zen moments website, tears would fill my eyes. Recently I viewed the video and then the Four Chambers film on compassion (the cab ride), courage, vision and wonder.However the four stories of loss better illustrate Chuang Tzu’s teachings on dying and death, disability and useless.

The cab ride was about a cab driver taking an elderly lady from her home to the nursing home for hospice. The ride was her last chance to see the outside world.

“Nature gives us form, belabors us with living, eases us with old age and lets us rest with death. Therefore if life is good, death is good as well. ” Chuang Tzu.

We all go through the seasons of life whether our life is long or short, dying young in sickness is not much different from aging. We may go on the ride ourselves, as companions to family and friends or strangers like the cab driver. If we can feel and understand the journey, we can ride with charm and compassion to ourselves or others.

Austin without limbs

The second story was about a little boy who lost his limbs at three. I had read “Life without Limits” by Nick Vujicic  and another book by a Korean with no limbs many years ago. But how little Austin showed his schoolmates that he could do what they thought he could not was a real inspiration. The way Austin’s mother described how she felt about the entire experience of loss opened my eyes, mind and heart. It’s more than courage, it is being enlightened by loss and discrimination.Instead of mourning over what cannot be done, think what can be done at the moment.

“Think one and not what’s lost.” Chuang Tzu.

The third story about how abandoned race horses were used to help withdrawn children who may be considered useless by many is not just vision to me, it is appreciating everyone and everything around us; then we can see the potential to do good to someone or something and put it to good use.

“Use of No Use is Great Use.” Chuang Tzu.

The final chamber is not wonder to me but untapped potential we tend to overlook in children and unexamined helplessness on challenging health conditions.

Epilepsy for Kids

The English girl published her book on epilepsy at the age of seven because her mother suffered from epilepsy and thought maybe other children can learn from her experience. Adults think children would be useless in understanding and helping in complicated health handicaps, but children surprise us if we let them.

And finally Ben Carson shared how he spent time on useless knowledge like classical music that ended up getting him in medical school. Nothing is “Useless Knowledge”.

Unbearable Lightness of Living & Dying in the Heartless Mind

A middle age man got a call from her brother around nine in the morning. Their mother died from cancer at home minutes ago. His brother told him to care for their father because he will accompany his mother on her way to another world.

He was working as daily labor at a very remote area and asked his foreman for the day off to attend to the family emergency. The foreman refused to pay him NT$ 1,000 (US$ 30) because the work was not completed. He had very little money in his pocket and walked seven hours to the nearest train station. It was six in the evening when he finally got home. The police moved the bodies to the morgue to be inspected by the prosecutor. A policeman urged the man and father to go there right away but they had no money. He stuffed a one thousand dollar bill in the son’s hand.

After waiting in a line of fifty at the library’s website for borrowing a book by the Russian journalist named Nobel laureate for literature this year, I finished reading it in no time. Svetlana Alexievich’s “Voices from Chernobyl”was a translation of heartbreaking stories told in the voice of first person, the stigmatized and disdained victims of the  disaster. Though I had watched many documentaries and news on TV about nuclear disasters, this was the first time I really looked nuclear disasters in the eye as if I were living it.

Voices from Chenobyl

It’s not the horrible process of dying that I cannot bear even after all these years of studying and experiencing death and dying, it’s how the leaders and people who covered up the unforgivable mismanagement of the plant and even sent people onsite to clean up unprotected without informing them of the consequences that shattered me. The victims honestly doing their jobs were doomed along with the families for generations to come. Lives weighed so light by the authorities who needed to cover up to protect their own names, merits, selves and interests as savvy crisis management.

If people of the same root were weighed so lightly, what more can migrants or refugees expect? History repeats itself. Even in Japan that had experienced Hiroshima bomb, authorities still tried to cover up the nuclear disaster when it first emerged a few years ago.

What is the real problem? Economic development, technology or human nature?

Love and Loss, Signature of Life

The charm of the lady flooded the lines in a touching article “Four Weddings and One Funeral”written by violinist Jimmy Lin Cho-Liang in a Taiwanese magazine “Wealth”.

Cho Liang Lin

She married in her forties and had three weddings in three cities all in two weeks  just for significant family members who could not travel. (Sydney where she lived for years, Munich where her mother-in-law was and then Taiwan where her dear uncles were.) It must have been exhausting. She became a mother five months later and her relatives heard about her lymphoma before their baby gifts even arrived in her hands. Her chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant all failed. His brother held a simple wedding in the hospital so her sister could attend. A few days later, she passed away. The baby was not even one-year-old. Her funeral was like a carnival, nobody wore black according to her request. She was a bright meteorite that swept through the sky. The most important events in life she went through fast forward in a year or so.

“Everything has a reason for being so. Everything has a reason for existence to be possible. ” Chuang Tzu

In contrast below a very slow film “Amour” that won numerous awards but the Guardian called it an ad for euthanasia. The film stripped aside all the glamour of long careers of the octogenarian actor and actress. Beauty faded , they glow from within, accepting stark reality of age, failure and ego disintegration.

“Nature gives us form, belabors us with living, eases us with old age and lets us rest with death. Therefore if life is good, death is good as well.  ” Chuang Tzu

Finally for any love and loss. Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto Second Movement played by  Lang Lang
The melancholy music filled with feelings of ineffable blessings, a beautiful signature of life. For any musician, loss of hearing would render him or her useless , a disability discriminated and doomed in any music career. Blessed with the profound sound of silence, Beethoven’s true nature emerged.

“Use of No Use is Great Use” Chuang Tzu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free from Conflicts and Loss with 8 Steps of “Do Without” Charm

Conflicts arise when people have different views and then we are trapped in a tug of war. We are trapped in loss when we attach, would not let go or associate with whatever or whoever we are dealing with.

The meaning of Hanji or Chinese Characters of “Danshari” is detach, let go and dissociate.(Some parts are similar to Chuang Tzu’s teachings and Zen).

Problem at Hand : (e.g.Conflicts and Loss)

Free Easy Ways of Danshari

  1. What am I determined to do?
  2. Identify problem, understand cause and nature of things? 
    Problem: Conflicts and Loss
    Cause and Nature of Conflict: (Zen and Chuang Tzu)
    Cause and Nature of Loss:
  3. What cannot be changed?
    Identify. Accept. (Chuang Tzu) Detach, let go and dissociate .
  4. Rise beyond and view from above.
    (Chuang Tzu. Also remember “See one and not the loss”)
  5. What can be done?
  6. How to innovate unique interpretation?
    New Unique Interpretation:
    Need (Is there a real need?)
    Fit (Does it fit?)
    Comfortable (Do you feel at ease with it? Chuang Tzu)
  7. Self-reliant, free and easy (Chuang Tzu)
  8. Love and affirm