People nowaways don’t seem to like living a typical life, do normal things and being at the average, although by definition most of us are about the average. We are, to some extent, proud individuals. Most of the time, we feel so good about ourselves and let our ego consume us. All major religions, including Buddhism and Christianity, call for the elimination of ego. That is the secret to a harmonious, peaceful and happy life.
How do God look? The Bible says, He look like us. It’s likely that some Messengers such as Moses who had seen God told the people so. But why do God have that particular image? Do God have an image at all? Remember that He created light, He existed before light, and because light gives images, hence He do not have an image, as a physicist argues. Do He have a form? God created the universe, so if He have a form before the universe, His form would be beyond our perceiving capability.
Think about trading stocks, when is a good time to sell? Simply speaking, either when you’re losing too much (something terribly wrong with the company), or gaining enough (well, what is enough then?). But, emotionally, most of us don’t want to retreat when facing failure just to suffer regret and lose our face. Similarly, we don’t want to quit during a winning streak because of greed and arrogance. The same things happen to gamblers, what’s why they often lose money eventually. It is even harder in a conflict because you don’t know much about your opponent, so it’s difficult to define “win” and “lose”. At the end of the day, all of these depend on how mindful you are of your actions. When you are in a conflict, ask yourself these two questions, everyday: Why do I fight and Is it a good time to stop?
The Book of Zhuangzi consists of three volumes, but it is believed that only the first half of the first volume was written by Zhuangzi, and the rest by his disciples and followers. I think that makes sense, because the first half of Vol. 1 has most of the core principles and is beautifully composed (regarded as one of Chinese greatest literary works), while the remaining are largely examples (many of which are sarcastic and cynical). Here are some highlights of the Book, based on my very limited and personal understanding.
Within my circle, I can easily win the title “Most persistent music learner”. I have played musical instruments for 15 years, started with guitar then transitioned to piano. That is not something extraordinary. The special part is that I’ve never been good at any of them but always at beginner level. Being a failed traveler on an incomplete journey, what do I write when I write about piano? Joy. Whenever I sit at the piano, I find myself immersed in a different world with fair rules, clear instructions, the challenge to interpret them, the beauty of music, the joy of making sound and the responsibility for mistakes.
Every summer, the full 40 episodes of “Journey to the West” series are broadcasted on Vietnamese national television. It is a TV series by Chinese CCTV dated back in 1986, based on the Chinese classic of the same name. Vietnamese kids and adults love it. So do I. I can’t remember how many times I had watched it. It is the story about a team of four characters (and a horse) setting out a trip to the Buddhist land in the West of China (i.e. India) to bring back the sacred Buddhist scriptures. It is a long, difficult and dangerous journey. The team travels through many kingdoms and encounters all kinds of obstacles and evils along the way. Each episode is a distinct adventure with its own background and development, sometimes very complex.