February 26, 2011

Forgiveness vs. Unforgiveness


Rembrandt – “The Return of the Prodigal SonImage via Wikipedia

(The forgiveness I am trying to analyse below is about serious matters, such as serious personal offense, crimes, and any type of abuses within relationships, it dose not include the tolerance/forgiveness of differences in ideas, wrong doings of general level.)

The content of "forgiveness" consists of two parts: 1, a peaceful state of mind that has transcended the painful/unfair past; 2, a willingness of re-building relationship with offenders.
The former is prerequisite of the latter, but it dose not necessarily lead to the latter.

Forgiveness is CONDITIONAL: 1, it requires victims emotional strength (transcending the past - recovery from damages and regain self esteem); 2, offenders' efforts to earn forgiveness*.
Forgiveness without both of these conditions is irrational, unreal and will not survive long.

Forgiveness is a strength. This is because that "feeling" is like a bank account, the more "saving" we have, the more "expense" we can make. So the more emotionally secure and more loving we are, the more capable we are to be compassionate, or to forgive.

When someone is abundantly loving, forgiveness can be a "charity". However, if someone practices this "charity" of "forgiveness" completely aimlessly or unconditionally, he/she is no more than a rich person showing off his/her wealth by giving out money away unnecessarily. In other words, this "charity" will not do any good, except functioning as a decoration of our personal strength.

I think unforgiveness usually has two reasons: victims' insufficiency of emotional strength; 2, offenders' lack of effort to earn forgiveness.
The unforgiveness caused by both or either of these reasons is totally reasonable, and worth our sympathy. As outsider, we should not encourage victims to "forgive" their offenders just for the sake of "forgiveness", because it is natural for a person to moan when he/she is suffering, and it is natural for us to defend ourselves when we are under attack. In other words, when any type of unfair conflicts happened and produced damages to one sides, victims' right should be always our the first concern.

*Susan Forward had some excellent analysis on this in her book "Toxic Parents".
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February 25, 2011

Common Sense

"Common sense" only works in general. Using common sense judge individual cases inevitably leads to prejudice. Yet this is what most people do.

The fact that "common sense" cannot summarize every inch of reality shows a simple truth: the complexity of Nature (or reality) is far beyond our general reasoning.

"A Thousand Years of Good Prayer"

This is a short/sweet/a little bitter movie about generation gap within a Chinese family: a father comes to America to visit her daughter who lives in US about 12 years and find he had to confront the "gap" between them.

I enjoyed the nice flow of the story line. The conversations jumped around different languages was amusing and how the father communicated with his neighbors and even made friend with a "foreign" lady (who had quite similar family experience) was very interesting. It was nicely done. I like the father a lot (wish I had one like that:-)). How he describes he gave name to his daughter made me tear up a little.

However, If this movie convince people that this type of problem represents most of Chinese families' problems, I would disagree. There are much worse "problems" exists in Chinese families between generations. This movie ascribes the cause of problems to external: the job, society, etc., which doubtlessly is the case, but I believe the real "Chinese" family problems are "internal", far beyond this common "human factor".

The real "Chinese" family problems come from Chinese tradition, "Tiger mother" alike, which is the lack of true love on parents side, the retrogression (not sure if this is the right word) of human nature caused by so call "culture", or "tradition". This type of parents may not necessarily "majority" but their ideas prevail within Chinese communities (both in China and oversea) and the damage it made on Chinese people is beyond repair.

I would love to see this side of stories revealed one day. It would be real dark, almost black, and I suppose many Chinese people will not like it.

February 21, 2011


Friendship is the kind of relationship in which we share what's common, embrace what's different (among us).

What really damages a friendship is not time, space, shortcomings, or differences of ideas, but judgement.

After finishing writing this note and discussing on BlogCatalog, I realized there are lots of more aspects affect friendships, and the differences of ideas do separate friends.

February 20, 2011

Conformity - a Hidden Murderer

Conformity is the easiest way (not necessarily the best way) to avoid "loneliness" - the worst fear of human being. For the sake of "conformity", many people do literally ANYTHING - "love", "passion", hate, violence, even murder. That's why discrimination prevails during peacetime, and how mass murders are committed during wartime.

Conformity really is the "weakest link" of human nature, a hidden murderer of most "hate crimes", and the true cause of many historical man-made disasters.

*Eric Fromm's "Escape From Freedom" had a profound analysis on this matter. It had almost a "permanent" influence on me since I read the book over 20 years ago.

February 19, 2011

Education, experience, intelligence and wisdom.

DSC_1518 - Peggy's (Cove) Point LighthouseImage by archer10 (Dennis) via Flickr

Experience alone does not bring us wisdom. Education alone does not make us more intelligent.

February 16, 2011

Experience, Hardship and Wisdom

HardshipImage via Wikipedia

Hardship is not necessarily a prerequisite for wisdom, but a wise mind can certainly benefit from hardship, just like it benefits from any kind of life experiences.

Any experience has its limitation. Experience itself does not bring wisdom. What makes wisdom is a capability of transcending experience, i.e. when facing hardship, one is able to keep hope and tranquil spirit hence overcomes misery; or when living an ordinary life, one is able to experience extraordinary hence goes beyond mediocrity.
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February 15, 2011

A Picture That Made My Day!

San Francisco is my dream place on this earth. Maybe it would not be so perfect as I dream if I really lived there, but still, the place seems to be unbelievable romantic, cultural rich and full of beautiful scenery.

This is a picture taken by my dear friend Helen who just finished visiting USA from UK. And it proves my dream: peaceful ocean breeze, giant looking bridge, clear sky and tranquil horizon, a heavenly place on this earth.

To prove my love to this city, see this post:

February 14, 2011

Winning the "Games"

Knights Templar playing Chess. Biblioteca del ...Image via Wikipedia

The time we start embracing our enemies, is the time we start winning the games.
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Open-air Initiation of K.K.K. under the Light ...Image via Wikipedia

"Maturity", sometime is marked not by age, but the growth of prejudice.

Fact, Idea and Truth

Human Brain EvolutionImage by hawkexpress via Flickr

When people failed to comprehend some plain facts, it is not that these facts were too complicated to human brains, nor these facts were not sufficiently described, but people's IDEAS restricted their basic capability of understanding.

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February 4, 2011

Materialism, Who Is To Blame? --- An inquiry into Chinese cultural tradition

Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism are one, a ...Image via Wikipedia

Edited by Anji Sandage

From a philosophical point of view, materialism represents some of the most negative aspects of our human nature, such as greed, selfishness, and inhumanity. It would be unjustified to put the label of “materialism” on any single ethnic group. However, being Chinese, I find it hard to ignore the excessive materialism in modern China, where money seems to be the sole “religion” in many people’s lives.
There are many reasons for this phenomenon - poverty, the social system, and even communism itself, but I have found all of these reasons to be superficial. I believe many Chinese people's “passion” for money has little or nothing to do with the reasons listed above. Instead, it has EVERYTHING to do with Chinese cultural ideology.
In China, there are two influential classical philosophies - Confucianism and Taoism - that dominate Chinese cultural ideology, and have for thousands of years of Chinese history. Both of these philosophies focus primarily on the practical aspects of human existence, or the “mundane.” Briefly speaking, Confucianism is about social stability while Taoism is about individual happiness. Even though Buddhism came to China during the early part of the first millennium and has undoubtedly had a great influence on Chinese culture, like Taoism, it is still a belief system focused mainly upon individual happiness. Soon after Buddhism spread throughout China, it quickly merged with Chinese culture and branched off into several sects and schools, the most common being Zen Buddhism, a school of Mahayana, with a following of between 500 and 1,000 million people throughout Korea, China, Japan and Vietnam.
Before the 19th century, China was almost completely closed off from the outside world. When China first opened its doors to the west in the middle of 19th century, these two philosophies were the whole content of the body of knowledge understood by Chinese intellects. It is a common belief in China that Knowledge isn’t something that can or should stand alone, but rather it is a subsidiary part of political or practical life. In ancient China, the only purpose for gaining knowledge was to gain political and social power. In his book “Mist of Metaphysics” Liu Xiaobo stated:
"One of the characteristics of Chinese culture is to provoke the human desire for power as much as possible. The path to becoming an intellectual is almost the only way to reach this goal.” [1]
In Chinese culture, there is no concept of "God" in a monotheistic sense, no sense of "divinity," and no concept of absolute "truth," neither was there any scientific spirit that existed in ancient China. In other words, there were no existing bodies of knowledge other than those with the purpose of serving mundane life. I believe it was exactly this monotonic understanding of knowledge that has shaped many Chinese people’s materialistic attitudes toward life.
Certainly both Taoism and Confucianism did not teach people to be greedy, but one important idea that both of these philosophies teach is that there is no need to question or look for anything other than matters directly related to the practicalities of life.
Taoism is a very charming philosophy and can be understood in a very positive way, for example, the ideas of following our natural spirit and making harmony in our lives with or without material comforts are very appealing to many people, and I believe this truly was the original intent of Taoist philosophy. Unfortunately, this aspect of Taoism has only been taken and practiced among some intellectuals, such as artists and poets. Among most others, Taoism was simply understood as a pathway to physical comforts and happiness.
Under such a cultural background, when China once again opened its doors to the world during the 80’s, it was more than willing to embrace capitalism, and people’s materialistic desires that had been suppressed by traditional morality for thousands of years were finally unleashed under this perfect marriage. This is why even though China is completely under communist rule; it was still able to combine the communist political system with a capitalist economic system.
Some people may blame Communism for this materialism. I would totally disagree. Not only does Communism not encourage materialism, it encourages a kind of "puritanical" lifestyle in modern China. During the 50’s, China experienced a very anti-materialism social movement where almost everyone lived in very poor material conditions, but with a zealous mental enthusiasm similar to Europe during the middle ages. Needless to say, this did more harm than good. It created one of most devastating horrors in human history, now known as The Great Leap Forward, which cost tremendous loss of life. After that, Chinese people lived in very poor conditions until the 1980’s when China once again opened up to the outside world.
I truly believe that while materialism exists in every society in this world and greed is truly a common disposition of human nature, some types of cultural ideologies encourage such philosophies and dispositions, while others discourage them. I personally view the overwhelming growth of materialism in modern China as a consequence of the poor development on Chinese intellectual property.
Once again, to quote Liu Xiaobo:
“…The worst regression in Chinese history was the revival of feudalist ideology”[2]

[1] Mist of Metaphysics, by Liu Xiaobo
[2] Mist of Metaphysics, by Liu Xiaobo
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