Category Archives: Culture

A new understanding on life

Note: This is a repost of a book outline with a new title and a little addition in the content.

Our science so far hasn’t developed sufficiently to provide a proper understanding of human consciousness and development of human society. Using scientific methodologies and concepts, combined with meditation experience and software programming experience, this book tries to provide a new framework of understanding. With this new understanding, hopefully we can gradually build a peaceful world with a high degree of life. Meditation and software are going to play a big role in that picture.

The outline of the book:

Part 0: The revolution/evolution in America

Part 1: Individual Consciousness:
Individuals are the natural centers of human society. Everything starts from the right understanding of our individual self. Buddhism teaches that we know our individual self directly. They are not like the physical world, which is external to us and we have to rely on science to explore. Through meditation, activity and reflection, we can know the self. So let’s study our individual consciousness.
ch 1: brain, mind, consciousness, growth of consciousness, and how they are tangled with community
How is consciousness formed? Where is it coming from? What is its material basis in the brain? What is the material basis of the self? How is the distance created? What is its relation to language? What is the health of the brain?
ch 2: memory, expectation/imagination vs. dwelling in the past and fascination about the future (both are thinking)
When there is no self, there are only two types of “legitimate” brain activities: accessing the past (stored as memory in the brain), and jumping to the future moment (the expectation or the imagination). What is driving the brain to do these two activities is the present moment or your encountering with the environment at the present moment. When you have a self, however, accessing the past becomes dwelling in the past (e.g. you are lost in the memory). Jumping to the future becomes fascination with the future (I am referring to illusionary fascination of the self). Both are thinking.
ch 3: learning, playing
ch 4: feeling, love

When you feel without thinking, you are experiencing love and interacting with love. That is playing. What is love?
ch 5: knowledge, brain, knowing, learning, not-knowing
What is knowledge and what is the wisdom that is beyond knowledge.
ch 6: peaceful forces
The peaceful forces in human history.
ch7: how to get to know your individual consciousness
Silence, sitting meditation, self-reflection, going back to the nature, going back to your childhood,  walking carefully in your life and doing no harm.

Part 2: Collective Consciousness:
After we know the self, how millions or billions of people can live and play together can be a challenge. The collective of consciousness can be a quite new topic on top of individual consciousness. The history of human beings is a history of how people organize themselves together.
ch 1: collectively
ch 2: society and community as external memory, space
ch 3: forces in history, peaceful forces, barriers
ch 4: social space, unlimited resources
ch 5: enriching each other, playing together (has nothing to do with money?)

ch 6: how to explore collective consciousness with software


Part 3: Life Science:
Computer Science is a science about life. Software is a bridge between the human science and the physical science.
ch 1: science, and the historical perspective, subjectivity/objectivity, the evolution of math and physics (just more transformation of plus and minus)
Traditionally, science has excluded subjectivity from its study. Christopher Alexander advocates bringing subjectivity back to science because subjectivity is objective. After all, we know ourselves directly. I argue that software is the tool to bring subjectivity back to objectivity. Software is a brand new way to explore social science and is a very effective tool.
ch 2: applying modern physics to the mental activities
What is the center of gravity? What is time? The movement of mental activities is more about degree of life.
ch 3: software and the principle of playing
We expand the concept of software to the social programming. With principle of playing, we can refactor the society and build a better playground.
ch 4: degree of life
Christopher Alexander says everything has life. They have different degrees of life. How do we understand life? How do we measure the degree of life?
ch 5: what is computer science
ch 6: diversity and equality, limitation and perfection, life
The phenomena of life: equality is manifested as diversity, perfection is manifested as limitation, absolute is manifested as relative.
ch 7: space
Everything is about space.

Part 4: Global Peace
ch 1: cultural communication
How the two great things of human civilization can meet and melt into each other? How the west and east can communicate the values of individual and collective?
ch 2: how to bring out democracy
The explosion of the self-organized production of social product is going to transform the society and change the social structure.  By engaging in these self-organizing activities of producing social product, we are enriching our lives and pursuing our happiness.
ch 3: we need pioneers to open up each individual field
Each individual field is going to be opened up one by one by the individual professionals in the field. They are going to use open source software and open organizations to empower themselves. Each professional field is going to be transformed. Individuals can pursue their interests in these fields freely and  independently. Ways of cooperating and organizing are going to be brought to a more granular and ad hoc level.
ch 4: build a better playground
With every progress of society, we have a better playground. That is how I look at history.
ch 5: the future of learning: how to engage with the space, true teachers…
How this individual field is going to be opened up? How learning/education is going to be transformed?

Part 5: Global Humanity
ch 1: the east, the thread of Chinese culture and how it is going to evolve
ch 2: the west,  the thread of western culture and how it is going to evolve

—————————————————————————————————————————

Outline with blog posts associated with each chapter

Part 0: The revolution/evolution in America
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2009/07/04/the-revolution-in-america/

Part 1: Individual Consciousness:
Individuals are the natural centers of human society. Everything starts from the right understand of our individual self. Buddhism teaches that we know our individual self directly. They are not like the physical world, which is external to us and we have to rely on science to explore. Through meditation, activity and reflection, we can know the self. So let’s study our individual consciousness.

ch 1: brain, mind, consciousness, growth of consciousness, and how they are tangled with community, language and culture:
How is consciousness formed? Where is it coming from? What is its material basis in the brain? What is the material basis of the self? How is the distance created? What is its relation to language? What is the health of the brain?
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/01/05/language-culture-human-brain-and-consciousness/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/02/17/exercise-your-consciousness/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/02/27/on-self-help-books-and-regrowing-consciousness/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/16/see-with-your-whole-body/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/12/14/consciousnessexperiences-cannot-be-transfered/

ch 2: memory, expectation/imagination vs. dwelling in the past and fascination (both are thinking):
When there is no self, there are only two types of “legitimate” brain activities: accessing the past (stored as memory in the brain), and jump to the future moment (the expectation or the imagination). What is driving the brain to do these two activities is the present moment or your encountering with the environment at the present moment. When you have a self, however, the accessing the past becomes dwelling in the past (e.g. you are lost in the memory). The jumping to the future becomes fascination with the future (I am referring to illusionary fascination of the self). Both are thinking.

ch 3: learning, playing
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/09/18/play/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2007/02/25/do-you-believe-that-you-are-complete-and-have-the-potential-to-fully-develop-yourself/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2006/12/08/a-summary-of-learning/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/comments-on-the-summary-of-learning/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/04/06/no-chinese-food-anymore-continuous-exploration-of-space/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/02/14/thinking-feeling-and-playing/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2007/06/01/doing-things-learning-and-playing/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2007/06/12/reflect-on-my-schooling/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2007/05/08/the-art-of-my-life/

ch 4: feeling, love
When you feel without thinking, you are experiencing love and interacting with love. That is playing.

ch 5: knowledge, brain, knowing, learning, not-knowing:
what is knowledge and what is the wisdom that is beyond.
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/knowing-and-thinking/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/10/22/no-self-no-problem/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/when-you-walk/

ch 6: peaceful forces
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/09/16/peace-what-is-peace-and-how-to-build-peace/

Part 2: Collective Consciousness:

ch 1: collectively:
After we know the self, how millions or billions of people can live and play together can be a challenge. The collective of consciousness can be a quite new topic on top of individual consciousness. The history of human being is a history of how people organize together.
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/managing-common-property-is-a-challenge/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/collective-vs-individual/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/my-standard-to-evaluate-a-societyculture/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/09/16/my-fundamental-belief-and-why-i-am-doing-what-i-am-doing/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2007/10/11/buddhism-and-social-consciousness/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/desire-and-future-society/

ch 2: society and community as external memory, space
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/11/09/community-vs-networking-part-2/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/material-culture-as-an-extension-of-human-cognition/

ch 3: forces in history, peaceful forces, barriers

ch 4: social space, unlimited resource
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/10/01/john-locke-has-a-second-thought-on-private-property/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/10/18/software-programming-for-everybody/
ch 5: enriching each other, playing together (has nothing to do with money?)

Part 3: life science:
Computer Science is a science about life. Software is a bridge between the human science and the physical science.
ch 1: science, and the historical perspective, subjectivity/objectivity, the evolution of math and physics (just more transformation of plus and minus)
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/10/14/the-subject-and-object/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/10/18/the-subject-and-object-part-2/

ch 2: applying modern physics to the mental activities
What is the center of gravity? What is time? The movement of mental activities is more about degree of life.

ch 3: software and principle of playing
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/a-better-way-to-understand-web20/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2007/08/17/software-like-buildings/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2007/01/03/web-brain/

ch 4: degree of life
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/11/30/one-billion-times-more/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/where-is-life-coming-from/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2006/11/23/only-losers-complain-about-too-many-choices/

ch 5: what is computer science
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/computer-science-is-life-science/

ch 6: diversity and equality, limitation and perfection, life
The phenomena of life: equality is manifested as diversity, perfection is manifested as limitation, absolute is manifested as relative.

ch 7: space
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/16/it-is-all-about-space/

Part 4: global peace
ch 1: cultural communication
How the two great things of human civilization can meet and melt into each other? How the west and east can communicate the values of individual and collective?
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/10/18/two-great-things-of-human-civilization/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/two-different-philosophies-of-life-and-society/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/07/23/news-of-china/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/06/inside-biosphere-2/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/09/the-myth-of-chinese-population/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/collective-vs-individual/

ch 2: how to bring out democracy
The explosion of the self-organized production of social product is going to transform the society and change the social structure. By engaging in these self-organizing activities of producing social product, we are enriching our lives and pursuing our happiness.
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/09/22/how-to-take-back-our-democracy-part-2-democracy-money-social-products-local-services-the-power-of-consciousness/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/09/20/how-to-take-back-our-democracy/

ch 3: we need pioneers to open up each individual field
Individual professionals are going to cooperate in new forms of organizations.

ch 4: build a better playground
We are going to build up a better playground in the social transformation.
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/03/20/build-a-better-playground/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/05/18/open-organizations/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/open-cooperation-within-an-organization/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/07/30/national-initiative-and-law-20/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/grassroots-web/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/10/18/software-programming-for-everybody/

ch 5: the future of learning: how to engage with the space, true teachers…
The true face of learning will be brought out.

Part 5: global humanity
ch 1: the east, the thread of Chinese culture and how it is going to evolve
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/06/a-brief-rundown-of-chinese-recent-history/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/06/development-and-environment/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/05/13/china-capitalism-communism/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/05/18/china-and-environment/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/06/olympics-and-china/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/10/watching-olympics-opening/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/the-chinese-renaissance/
https://freestone.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/two-ways-to-help-china/

ch 2: the west,  the thread of western culture and how it is going to evolve

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Why I am here

I came to the states for the cause of education/learning. I have identified the education as the most important thing for China, as the thing that will make the real change. I recognized that for the macro-environment, it is better to do it in America. I believe what I am doing here will eventually benefit China greatly. So I came here.

But here in this foreign culture, I am limited by my micro-environment. I have been trying here for about 9 years. When I first came here, I made my decision that if I could not speak English like Americans (I don’t mind accent. As long as I can express myself freely and people can understand me without any problem, it is ok.), I will definitely go back. Now I already passed the deadline I had set for myself. The restrictions the US government put on foreigners make it very difficult for me to have free time to make the breakthrough. Chomsky says language is what makes human being human being. Many times when I look at the cats, I feel I am in a state between the cat and the human being. Yes, not only are the immigrants/foreigners slaves, they are also not human being. I wouldn’t go to graduate school if I stayed in China. To come to the states, I chose to go to graduate school and wasted a lot of my time there. I came to the states for the purpose of unschooling. But to come here, I need to put myself into school. How ironic is that?

I surely had my fun here, and it is always good to learn new things and meet new people. But my life is limited. I have to choose where I am going to base myself.

People who believe in national border is very short-sighted and lack of knowledge and imagination. I thought America is about Equality.

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Consciousness/experiences cannot be transfered

In Zen, it is well-known that the masters insist that they have nothing to teach. They insist that their words cannot become the students’. The students have to experience for themselves.

Yes, the consciousness/experiences cannot be transfered from one person to another. You have to experience it yourself.

What I realized after coming to US is that the consciousness/experiences also cannot be transfered from one culture to another culture. Even it is within the same person, for what you have experienced in your native culture you will have to experience them all over again in the new culture. Otherwise, the old experience will just fade away and become not accessible anymore. So you have to rebuild the whole new experience on the new substrate.

I always tell my oversea Chinese friends that it is a battle of life and death living in US, which they cannot totally comprehend. But for our brains, it is certainly a battle of life and death. Although many oversea Chinese try to get by by associating with the oversea Chinese communities, it is certainly very different from living in your native culture. Their consciousness was locked up and cannot keep growing anymore.

I was talking to a friend the other day. He asked me about some of his impression of Chinese. I told him that Chinese coming to US in different time are very different. When they came to US, they were pretty much stuck in the time they came. So the Chinese coming to US 50 years ago were trapped as Chinese 50 years ago. Even China itself has changed over the past 50 years, these Chinese don’t change much. The new generation of Chinese coming here certainly realize those Chinese are very different. So each generation of Chinese immigrants become a museum of that generation. They cannot “melt” (a common word used, but I don’t feel that is an accurate expression) into the western culture. They cannot grow together with their original Chinese society anymore. So they got locked up. For China, it had gone through countless of wars and turmoils in the past 150 years. The trauma and humiliation these wars had caused in the people’s minds are very deep. And it takes many years of peaceful time to rebuild the order of peace, and people can start rebuilding the manners of their society. So people in a society grow together. But the Chinese coming to US a long time ago cannot grow anymore and was locked in that historical period forever. It took their second generation to start making a little change.

In Buddhism, we say there is no time. What happened in the past is not in the past. It is in the present. It is in your memory. So the past is just the space in our memory. We access that space by living the present. So if you are more able to interact with the present, you have more access to the past (the space in your memory).  We are constantly reshaping and restructuring our memory so that our past experience and our knowledge can be more readily available with no thinking. When you are crossing the street, how do you know you need to pay attention to the cars? How is that memory recalled? During an emergence, for example, how to put out a fire on oil? How do you recall your knowledge and reconnect things on the spot? It is reasoning. You have the subject and object. You take the experience of the object as the object. The subject and object are not separated. But when you are trapped in thoughts, the subject and object are separated. Then you are thinking.

Learning, is to constantly restructure our memory so it can be more readily available. When you can connect things at the bottom level, it is much easier for you to hold things together. When you are able to hold all your experience together in your hand, you will feel very good. When you bravely engage with the present space, the emptiness of the present will recall the emptiness stored as patterns in your memory (according to the current brain science, the revoking of memory is based on pattern mapping). Such pattern mapping doesn’t have to be visual to visual mapping. Visual might be mapped to audio and so on.

As in the previous post, our memory is also stored externally in the material culture. By interacting with that external material culture every day, we have access to our memory. Thus living in a community has essential meaning to human being. Being extracted out of that material culture and transported to another material culture means you lose part of your memory. Thus you need to familiarize yourself with the new material culture and have that as your new external storage of memory. By interacting with it day to day, you are accessing your memory stored in it. The ability to interact with this new material culture certainly determines how fast you can build up your new experiences and be able to access that experience from time to time.

Some stuff above is more hypothetic in nature.

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Community vs. Networking Part 2

In China, the media is very much controlled (in a different way the media in US is controlled), so it is hard to get to know what is going on at the national level. You read the reports in the news. You doubt what really happened. You read in the news that there is food poisoning happening somewhere in the country. You don’t look at the number of how many people died. You just take the fact that food poisoning happened. That is enough. Things happened far away are hard to know, unless you have friends living in that place and they can tell you what really happened.

But it doesn’t mean there is no truth in your life. Everything around you is truth. They are happening everyday. People’s suffering, people’s happiness, they are there for you to see.

This topic of this essay is Community vs. Network Part 2. It is continued thinking after part 1 here. It is based on the concepts as defined by John Taylor Gatto in his speech Less School.

You cannot get truth from network. Here we take newspaper, TV, internet, social networking and so on as network. You cannot get the truth from them. You can only get the truth from the community, e.g. the local living sphere around you, from people you have to spend a lot of time with. They are the places you can really belong to. You can only get truth from there. When you see the truth, it can destroy any lies told by the system.

Network is only of a couple of dimensions. But community (or we can call village) is of limitless dimensions. Thus community is the truth. Network is only an abstract in one dimension. It is used to achieve a certain purpose.

Community is limited in the sense you can only hold limited number of people in a community. Thus the local culture in that community are influenced by people in the community. A bigger and more diverse community is healthier as it offers individuals more chances to fully develop themselves. So it is important to use network to expand the community. How big a community you can belong to is a personal challenge.

The religious communities in US all have their own local cultures that bound individuals. They make the individuals living inside feel safe and satisfied, without realizing how much conditioned they are and that they are kept away from their true nature and their own potentials. The traditional villages in China have their own local traditional rules, which bound individuals to the old tradition, even that tradition has a long history of smearing off individuals’ individuality and causing tremendous suffering. The working units in socialism China bound people to one single working place for life. It doesn’t matter you like your job or not. It doesn’t matter if the local leaders are repressive of you or not. You have no choice. You have to accept it and live with it. Some people think this as a profound culture. Some people call for change.

US is surely a very different world. Especially with the flourish of Internet, networking is greatly expanded. There are so many choices there that people are constantly thinking of escaping their existing communities.

If used well, however, networking can be used to enrich and expand the community. We all belong to this big community which you can call country or culture. How do you really belong to a country? Many people talk about loving their country without realizing it is actually a huge challenge to love one’s country. How can you feel your country the same way as you can feel of your community? Without that concrete feel, your love for your country is only superficial and exists more as a manifestation of your own ego.

It is easy for our senses to perceive the difference. When you are constantly networking, you see all the differences. But it takes more of knowing the other person for you to perceive the sameness or the equality. When you perceive the equality, you go beyond your six senses and your eighth sense is in touch with the deeper truth. People losing their communities lose everything.

Building a community is to build a village that you cannot escape. Everyone else’s problems are your problems.

Community or sanga is the place for your practice. You practice how you function in a community. You are totally useless unless you can make other people’s lives better. In Brad Warner’s words, your brain is just “big fat hairy deal” (Sit Down and Shut Up, Chapter 6: the Colors of Mind). Only by doing so, can you practice manifesting your true self.

Network is not the place for you to escape the community. If you do so, you will be like a ghost wondering around without a soul. You cannot escape the community. You cannot escape your parents. You cannot escape your siblings. You cannot escape your relatives. You cannot escape your family. You cannot escape your friends. You cannot escape your society. You cannot escape your culture. You have to embrace them unconditionally. Networking, at the best, is only the info you get to help you better understand your community.

Compulsory schooling allienate people by taking them away from the community. How can you unschool those conditionings?

In the age of community, it is time to talk about community. Let’s start the practice.

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A Puerto Rican fighting the whole west

Overhead a conversation of a dinner table besides me. The guy is from Puerto Rico. He is talking about Puerto Rican here don’t want to learn English and don’t want to learn all the things they don’t know here. They just stay with other Puerto Ricans.  He, however, wanted to learn of English and things here. He said that he was totally overwhelmed. He had to fight against the whole west. (This is interesting to me. I thought Puerto Rico was part of the western world.) The other person he was speaking to didn’t seem to understand him. I, however, totally understand him and his desperate tone.  I always wonder what are the oversea experiences of  people from countries other than China. It seems that what we feel is quite universal, no matter where we come from. However, to people who have no such experience, it is just totally beyond their comprehension.

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A free life by Ha Jin: how lonely can you be

I went through Ha Jin’s novel A Free Life quickly. One of my purpose of reading this book is to see what he has went through in his oversea life as an oversea writer who accomplished writing in English. The oversea experiences he exposed in his novel is quite typical.

I spent a long time trying to find the original quotes in the book but failed to locate them in this 700 page book. So here are just some sentences I recalled from my memory:

If you live in America without a wife and friends, after 5 years, you will feel extremely isolated and lonely. After 10 years, you will have a mental problem.

Nan was trying to take on English writing and forfeit writing in Chinese. He worried it might mess up his whole life without getting anywhere. The challenge is like climbing a very high mountain without even the summit in vision.

There are more quotes. But one week after I read it, I cannot recall all of them now.

During my first two years in US, I had spent quite a lot of time with oversea Chinese here, and had an idea of the general conditions of them. What the book mentioned is quite typical. Living oversea for many years is a very unique experience that is very hard to imagine if you have never gone abroad for a long time.

My friends used to describe coming to US like living in a dream. For me, my feeling is it is like floating in the air, my hands and feet cannot touch anywhere, cannot be grounded. All the strong feelings in China gradually lost. I couldn’t feel those feelings anymore. They used to be what I felt of my existence from, which I used to guide myself through life. They are those essential so called “precious things in life”. It was strange to see them all gone.

Yes, after 5 years, most of the memory in China will be lost. For 10 years, it is probably completely gone without much trace left. You lose the whole system of reference. If the person cannot take root in the new culture and obtain a new frame of reference, I don’t know if the reader can imagine what it is like.

One word oversea Chinese used very often is the feeling of “Dry”. Like all the water gradually leaves the body, we feel very dry. We say “dried to death”. Life needs to be enriched with water.

I felt this gradual loss of feelings and the sense of groundless immediately after I came to US, and I knew my most urgent task was to grow myself in this culture, (just like a cell growing on matrix). I knew this is a matter of life and death. It is a matter of survival. If I had free control of my time, I would definitely devote all of it to learning of this new culture madly. I had never expected this struggle to be this long.

I remember a question on blogpost is: if you dig a hole to China, where should you start? My answer is: the closest way to China is to dig a hole right through this thick American culture. That is the only way we can go back to China. You have to go beyond, stay on top of the game, if your choice is to stay. The world is already becoming one country. Just like in China, there are many provinces so you learn the cultures of various provinces. Since the world is becoming one country, you also need to learn other cultures. If so, I guess it is better for me to learn here. It is actually quite a lot of fun, if you can stay on top of the game. Recently I just realized that I need to enjoy my life here. Find good food here. Do whatever I like to do. Relax and enjoy my life here. I’ve been too hard on myself, always prepared to endure long time of pain before the taste of accomplishment. Life is in very simple things. Realizing this, the raw material of life start growing in this culture. After all, this body is capable of experiencing life, sensing the world, feeling the emotions, synthesizing beauties and recreate with its powerful force of life. The heart just needs to be exposed, be touched so it can grow big and strong.

People need to be good at two things: one is to be able to work just by oneself; the other is to be able to work with other people. There are always time you need to endure a long time of working just by yourself.

Anyway, thought of taking this chance to record the oversea experience. I couldn’t have imagined this kind of experience before I came abroad although I was very confident of myself then. As far as I know, the oversea experience wasn’t talked much in the literature. This article hopefully can give you some idea of what it is like. It feels so good to be in the mother language. Like fish going back to water.

Extra about oversea experience:

The endless creativity I had felt before going abroad gradually left me. In a class, when asked to come up some creative use of an invention (a material change color responding to temperature), I could not come up with anything, while other students come up with many things from their daily life. I felt so bad.

I have forgotten a lot of concepts since I don’t know their English words. When I googled them and saw their Chinese version, I was stunned that I had forgotten that concept for so long. For example, magpie.

I thought losing YY will be very painful. But here in US, I didn’t even feel much the pain. No intensity at all. Nevertheless, the pain was there and lasted for a very long time, and sometimes it suddenly became very painful when i realized what I had lost.

Reading Ha Jin’s novel Waiting, I had the feeling that I am part of them, we are one.

Sometimes reading the journal since childhood or just looking at pictures from the past, it recalled what life is used to be like, how rich it was when I was not confined by language. How different it was! It was totally a different mental state!

A friend graduating from the best university of China couldn’t argue with an American when they had a car accident.

Doctors said detainee of Guantanamo bay may suffer brain damage because of extreme isolation.  National Geography’s special issue about Intelligence of animals points out that social interaction is responsible for the intelligence in animals.

Not being able to speak the language in a culture is like living in the darkness. You don’t see much light around you. But you are requried to do your job here.

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No Chinese food anymore–continuous exploration of space

I decided not to go eat Chinese food anymore except when I am going with some friends and they want to go to eat Chinese food. For myself, I am going to stay away from Chinese food. Initially I was frightened by this decision. So from now on I have to eat American food (or non-Chinese food) for a long time. What if I don’t like it? Well, I told myself, go find American/western food you like! Immediately it opens up a big space for me. I start paying attention to many things that I didn’t pay attention to in the past and start making sense of them. Things start to be connected.

When I first came to US, faced with this new space, I was so excited about exploring it. There are tons of questions that I want to find out. However, graduate engineering school can be very intensive, and thus I couldn’t allocate much time for me to explore the space. So I had to just get by. Gradually I got used to not being able to understand what people were saying and felt ok of it. I got used to not being able to communicating with people and felt ok of it, got used to not knowing what was going on around me… You know, I stopped asking those questions, and gradually forgot those questions. The space closed up. I got used to just getting by. I guess it is like the frog in the slow cooking pot of water, I am in the slow process of dying. Only occasionally, for example, when the school dining hall I used to work at caught fire, I didn’t know what to do, even though I had studied a lot of chemistry (but staying in US, I barely recognize any conversation related to chemistry. And just like math, chemistry don’t register with my daily attention since my top concern is to find time to learn more frequently used English words.) I was the only guy there, and they expected me to give them some answer. You know how bad to feel so helpless. Anyway, generally speaking, the space is closed up, although I never stopped fighting back. As time goes by, I get used to just getting by and forget the urgency of changing the situation.

So, you see, life is about continuous exploration of space. It is a very exciting thing and it is the energy that sustains us. Life is full of life that way. Look at many adults, why most of them have become so passive? Because they lost the continuous exploration of space! Look at the kids. They are always very excited, playing around. The world is brand new for them and there are so many things to explore. When did the change happen to them?

When kids become teenagers, mostly they have finished exploration of nature. For about 10 years, they have been awed by the wonder of nature, and to some degree, start getting used to it. Many kids, at this time, start to getting interested in adult’s world. When they are kids, they don’t like adults’ life, which is incomprehensible. So cartoon is much better for them. Cartoon is much simpler. 🙂 But during teenage time, they are about ready to take on human world. They start getting interested in knowing about how the human world works, what is like to be a musician, and so on. They also know intuitively (partially society also demand them) that they need to take on responsibility in this human world soon. So at this time, a lot of time is needed to do a lot of reading (history, society, literature, many many things will interest them), or try many things in society (selling stuff on the street and so on) to figure out how the world works.

But we know, this is the time kids go to middle schools and become occupied by school work and home work (and TV).  It is very hard to find time to  explore their own interests. They are told by the school teachers to learn various things which are supposed to the basic learning material no matter they are interested or not. What happen then? As time lapse, even faced with the new space opening up for them, they stopped asking questions anymore, satisfied of just getting by and being passive.  So you see most students go through many years of schooling without all those important questions of life, society and their positions in this society ever asked.

Before they become adults and have to be financially responsible for themselves, that is the time they really have all the free time to freely explore all sorts of things. After they become adults, they don’t have that luxury of free time anymore. Worse, they already got used to being passive.

So life is about continuous exploration of space. That is playing. That is adventure. Life needs adventure.

So we see two stages that exploration of space are blocked.

One is in middle school and college. The result is people get dumbed down by schooling.

The other is coming to US (as an engineering graduate student). The result, as one of my friends said, is to create the high tech slaves for US economy. (BTW, I am not complaining. I made my decision and if I don’t like it, I can choose other options.)

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