Purpose as a Living Charm

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Picasso.

clowns and children patients Clown Heart and elderly woman

Pretty clowns in Taiwan
A young Taiwanese girl traveled to Italy where she attended by chance a Clown Heart training workshop and joined their tours of hospitals, psychiatric institutions and orphanages. She brought it back to Taiwan and founded  Clown Heart Studio with three others in their twenties to bring happiness for good causes such as visiting patients.Social work can be fun!

Kohama-Island

Closest to heaven pop queens from paradise

Japan’s grandma pop band is made up of  singers and dancers with an average age of 84 from the remote, coral-fringed island in Okinawa  with a population of just 600 and lies a mere 240 km off Taiwan. Okinawan islanders have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, their diet contains more vegetables and purple-fleshed local sweet potato. Their lyrics are about the island and nature such as whales in the sea spouting or dolphins doing somersaults.

In the news clips, I was drawn by the girlish giggles sounding like silver bells from the shortest granny (wearing gray striped kimono in the middle) who had lost her husband and son.

Despite their girl power, backstage walking frames block entrances, blood pressure monitors and defibrillators are close at hand. Hunched over a walking stick, one granny tosses her cane aside like a true rock star when she’s on stage, dancing with joy on traditional Okinawan string music given a Tokyo-style pop makeover.

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 Record breaking Japanese Centenarian swimmer

She started to learn swimming at the age of eighty because of knee problem and has been swimming two hours at a time and four times a week. After the swim she would sleep for five hours.She breaks the record with a 1500 meter swim in one hour and sixteen minutes.

“Now I’ve got my life, this is of great use to me” Chuang Tzu. Eco-parable of Useless Tree

I strove very hard most of my life fulfilling obligations to expectations of parents or society,caring for families or doing good for different aspired causes with less than desirable outcome. Now that I have got my life to solely pursue my passion of reading and writing for personal development, it has been of great use to me in terms of learning, fulfillment and purpose despite of unbearable personal loss or missing the marks of success or the good life by conventional standards.

Though I have not achieved much success or of much use to others in giving away the bilingual reading and writing gifts that I thought I found, I still feel my life has meaning and purpose in sharing the teachings of Chuang Tzu on conflicts and loss regardless if it has helped anyone else.

 

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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 ?