Wednesday, May 27, 2009

They took the heart out of China.

This is part one of an ongoing series of people who at some point were an inspiration to me. Through their words, music, actions they inspired me to be the best I could be. It took me a long time to realize that the best I could be would have to be something to do with me: My personal strengths and what I want to put forth into the world. For the longest time being the best I could be had to do with emulating my heroes. Judging myself for not being as environmental as John Denver, or as compassionate as the Dalai Lama. Not as articulate as Jean Houston nor as joyful as Chungliang al Huang. As I grew through my association with these individuals I also learned to love myself.

I attended a seminar by Chungliang al Huang once during the Windstar Choices for the Future symposium in Aspen, back in 1989. He was one of the speakers at the inspiring three day meeting of the minds and a memorable one at that. He got the audience to stand up and do an exercise called: “Embrace tiger, return to the mountains”. At that time, I think very few people in audience had heard of Tai Chi much less done any.
Tai Chi means something like: "ultimate best" and it's art is evolved from Chinese fighting techniques. Most teachers of this art teach the form, the technique. Chungliang is different in this respect that he teaches the joy of the movement, tapping into the energy of the Hara, the gut. He got us all to belly laugh together, reach up to the sky to reel in all the sky’s energy. Reach down to the earth and draw in
all the earths energy as well and then pat our bellies to blend it all together in our Center. It was absolutely magical to see 1500 people, mostly Americans join in this dance of energy.

Then he told us about China, and the audience got very quiet. This was only days after Tiananmen Square massacre had happened and Chungliang told us about what had been happening in the homeland in the past decades. He drew a Chinese character on a flip-over: the symbol meaning China. His writing was as joyful a dance as his Tai Chi had been. Then he explained the meaning of the different parts.

He explained that what he had written was in the traditional Chinese language, the first character meaning central, the second symbol country or nation. Inside the protective square is the symbol for the heart and the people.
Then he drew the new, simplified symbol for China. The people symbol had become more rigid and they had taken the heart out of China. A real heartbreak moment. The symbolism of this spoke more clearly about what was happening in China than any blurry newscasts about the massacre.

Language is what we have that separates us from other animals and here they changed the language, taking out the heart of China. The simplicity of his message, the sheer joy of this person in spite of his personal grief over the massacre in Tiananmen Square. I fell in love with the man from China. The old China, full of heart.

Helpful hint:
“Does your path have a heart? If it does, the path is good, if it doesn’t it is of no use.” ~ Carlos Castaneda

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