Posts tagged life

Life is Like a Bottle


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The original text is in Chinese. I translated this into English to share with you. It is very simple, yet holds a much deeper meaning. A very easy thing to understand, but also a very easy thing to forget. The original text can be found here.

This is an empty bottle.

If you pour the water in, then the bottle contains water.

But if you put trash in the bottle, then the bottle is full of trash.

What is man?

Man is not particularly anything.

Man is a mere empty bottle.

You are like this bottle.

Whatever you do, good or bad, fills up the bottle.

If your heart is filled with kindness, passion, sincerity, and thankfulness, then the bottle, which represents your life, will be filled with sunshine.

If you are facing many conflicts, you should try to find your shortcomings and remedy them.

The faults of others will disappear with your endurance.

If your life has other people in it, you will have more empathy.

You will not just put yourself first.

You will not just do things for yourself only.

You will let others feel your warmth.

If you care about other people, they will do likewise.

Moreover, you will receive more than you give.

If you enlarge your heart, you will not be affected by gossip, fighting, and greed.

Nor will the on and off promotion and demotion of the world affect you.

It will not block your wise eye.

You will feel like nothing bothers you.

You can be calm, and enjoy the beauty of life.

Otherwise, your heart is filled with the seed of hatred.

This seed will only grow, and bud, and blossom into a flower.

Consequently, you will be consumed with hate.

Then, you hurt yourself first.

If your heart is filled with jealousy, manipulation, and greed, then you can never get out of this narrow mindset.

You will only complain to the heavens and the earth in your single-track mind.

Your friends will decrease in numbers.

In the end, you will be alone.

If your heart is filled with your career, your stocks, and your houses, you have no choice but to struggle to run your journey in this material world.

Even though all those things will keep appearing in your heart, you have to chase them endlessly until you have lost your spiritual being.

The material things are not brought into us in this world, nor are they taken with us.

In the end, we may depart from this world with regret, empty handed.

Your fate and success are not determined by your appearance or your height.

It’s up to what you have in your heart.

If your heart is filled with beauty, your life will be beautiful.

If your heart is content with health, then you will have good health.

If your heart is filled with beauty, then it shows in your outer appearance.

If your heart is filled with energy, then your body is also filled with energy.

If your heart is filled with joy or happiness, then your life will be filled with joy and happiness.

If your heart is filled with confidence, then your life will be the same thing.

In the realm of life and the future of life, people always see a fog.

Actually, it is in front of you and it is up to you.

Destiny comes from the heart.

If it is in your heart, your appearance and destiny will reflect what is in your heart.

We are all like an empty bottle. Whatever is in your heart is what you will receive.

My Life Story (3): Suicide and Empathy


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This article was published on my Chinese-language blog on July 15, 2014. (Reference:  零極限 Zero Limits(151):我的故事(3)-自殺與同理心本文有影音). I wanted to post the English version of the article here earlier, but it was delayed. I now know there was a reason for the delay — so that I might dedicate it to our beloved Robin Williams, who showed us how to laugh through his performances and reminded us how to care for others through his tragic death. May he rest in peace and may we all have empathy for all the people in our universe.

“Why? Why? What do you want me to do? The trials are coming one after another.
Isn’t it enough? Don’t you see that how much I have suffered?” I cried till I lost my
voice. “Are you happy to see me like this? Please have mercy on me. You have the
power to stop this suffering. If you are willing, my life would get better.”

I seemed to be looking down at myself from the ceiling of the car. I was watching
myself behind the steering wheel – pitiful and helpless. Shouting and screaming, the
person I was watching kept pleading with God: “Please answer me, please help me
understand. I have no one but you to rely on.” What was going on? I asked myself,
looking down from the ceiling: “What has happened? Think … think again.”

Several minutes earlier, totally stressed out, I had dashed out and driven off in my
car. I just wanted to get out of the house and keep going. I was speeding and rushed
through a red light. Too late, I saw a police car waiting at the intersection for the
light to change. I was sure he had seen me running the light. He would probably
chase after me. I was terrified.

Luckily, I was familiar with the area. I turned into an alley behind a bank. Once I felt
safe, I stopped the car and burst into tears. In distress, wanting to help myself, it
seemed that I rushed out of my body and saw myself behind the wheel – pitiful,
confused and weak. At the same time, I saw someone who wanted answers and
earnestly sought them. … “Please answer me, please help me understand. I have no
one but you to rely on.”

Suddenly I felt my anger subside as I waited for an answer. I stopped crying. I felt
calm and began to relax. I envisioned myself standing on the street in broad
daylight. “Come, there is light!” I yelled. But no one, yes, no one showed up. A voice
came to me. It was broad daylight, and there was light everywhere. Nobody needs
light at midday. For that, you have to go to a cave where there is no light, only
darkness. That is when you call for light.

If you want to comfort and bring light to someone, you first have to have experienced darkness. Otherwise, it is of no use. You cannot share their feelings. If you have not experienced darkness, you won’t understand what they have been through. What comes out of your mouth is merely sympathy, and that is superficial.

All of sudden, I was reminded of several friends who committed or tried to commit suicide. At the time, I did not understand how desperate they must have felt – how lonely and helpless they were. They were crying out for help. But I was too young and immature to hear their hearts crying out. But after going through all my ordeals, I now had a better understanding of how they must have felt.

(This image was taken from Oasis of the Seas, I wish to thank the artist for this amazing painting.)
I had a friend who finally succeeded in killing herself after three attempts. She must have been in extreme despair to keep trying to slash her wrists. She was only a middle school kid. Thinking of someone at such an innocent age giving up her life made me very sad.

A second friend killed herself by jumping from the roof of a tall building in a small Taiwanese city. We were told she was lovelorn. She apparently could not find anyone to help ease her pain, so she ended her life. She had just entered college.

A third one was my best friend. Her marriage had been arranged. She told me she could endure the hard work, but she could not stand her husband’s immaturity. She wanted a divorce, but her parents objected. She came to me looking for help. Unfortunately, I missed her visit and she tried to kill herself after she returned home. Thank God she did not succeed, and then her parents allowed her to divorce.

A fourth one was a high school friend who killed herself to protest unfair treatment by the principal of the school where she later taught. Unlike her faculty colleagues, she never gave bribes to the school administration. As a result, she did not get the promotion she deserved. What a waste of life!

There was also the son of a friend who gave up his life at age 24. It was because he had been caught driving without a license. Being so young, he felt he had no way out, so he committed suicide.

Statistics show that most suicide survivors do not try to kill themselves again. One can make the decision to give up one’s life – or not – in the blink of an eye. A mere thread separates life and death. If we break the thread, then we face death … zero …nothing left. Nobody can fix it then.

Finally, I can understand the feelings of a member of my church whose husband climbed a tree to prune some branches, but fell down and died. She refused counseling from others because she said that nobody had experienced what she had. I understand now that what she wanted was empathy. She wished we could enter her world and feel what she was going through.

Not too long ago, a friend wanted me to contact a lady who just lost her husband to a heart attack. Being so young and left with three little girls, she allowed anger to overwhelm her and refused to have anyone visit. But when I tried to talk to her, I was surprised that she responded to my effort to console her. I am now gradually understanding why I have gone through so many trials. Not only did they help me grow, but they also made it possible for me to empathize with others. I am grateful that I am now able to come out my own world and enter other people’s worlds and connect with them through love. That is what life is all about, isn’t it?



Three Bows that Shocked the Court


I would like to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in this world.
I would also like to share with you a touching story of a righteous mother. The
article is a translation from the Chinese (Reference). I hope you enjoy it.

This is about a kidnapping case. The suspect, a 30-year-old man, kidnapped a boy of 6.
Luckily, the child was not harmed. But even though the man’s actions did not
result in serious consequences, the law nevertheless demanded that he be punished.

The boy was the son of the man’s boss. The man had worked for eight months but
had never been paid. Being his family’s only breadwinner, he was carrying a heavy
burden. His mother was seriously ill with heart disease and needed daily
medication. In addition, his mentally ill sister would wander the streets and needed
care. Last but not the least was that he needed to pay for his child’s school. Facing all
these expenses, he had no choice but to ask his boss to advance him some money –
even a few hundred dollars would have been helpful. But whenever he asked for
money, his irritable boss would call security and chase him out of office.

In the end, he could not take it anymore and kidnapped the boss’s son. He quickly
regretted his action. Although he could have abandoned the child and run away, he
wouldn’t do it because he worried something bad might happen to the boy. He
cradled the boy in his arms so he would not be afraid. In fact, the child was sleeping
in his arms when the police showed up.

The man was sentenced to five years. People felt sorry that he would have to pay
such a price for his crime. What would happen to his family?

As the judge was declaring the court adjourned, a hoarse voice was heard from the
audience. A lady, over 60 years old, the victim’s grandmother and the mother of the
kidnapper’s boss, said, “Wait, I want to say something.” The old lady had been sick
with worry when her beloved one-and-only grandson was abducted. Those present
in the courtroom were worried that she might ask for compensation from this poor
worker who had nothing with which to pay.

The old woman slowly walked to the dock. She stood in front of the kidnapper, and
her mouth was trembling. Silence filled the room. No one knew what would happen.

Suddenly, the old woman bent down and bowed deeply to the kidnapper three
times. Everyone was shocked. Even the man’s boss, who was sitting at the plaintiff’s
bench, thought his elderly mother must be confused.

The old lady raised her gray head, and tears were streaming down her face. After a
long time, she spoke … slowly, “My first bow represents an apology to you on behalf
of my son. He wronged you because I did not teach him well. The culprit was my
son, not you, and he should be the one to be sentenced. The second bow represents
an apology to your family on behalf of my son. As his mother, I owe you an apology
too. The third bow is to thank you for not harming my grandson. You have a kind
heart; you did not leave the slightest shadow of fear in his mind. My child, you are a
hundred times better than my son.”

The old lady’s speech moved all the people in the courtroom. What a righteous
mother! The kidnapper was so moved that he burst out crying. The result was that
the son of the elderly lady not only paid the worker the wages he owed, but he also
sent the worker’s mother and sister to a city where they could receive the medical
care they needed. The story had a happy ending.

I believe the tolerance and righteous act of this elderly lady gave salvation to her
son. Her three bows were for her son. She did it to teach her son not to do anything
unjust again.

“Taking the righteous path” is vital, whatever we do in life. We must never be unjust
and immoral. At the very least, we should not do anything to sadden our mother and
make her bow her gray head in shame.


Life Lesson From Bonsai


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“Look, life and death!” Said the friend.
I see a thin trunk attached to what looks like, a dead piece of wood.
Then one of the workers tells us that the dead wood is more than 750
years of age, and was painted white to prevent termites.
The staff have then joined our discussion saying
that all the wood that is displayed here are at
least 250 years old, and that it was priceless!

The amazing skill of the horticulturists assist the bonsai in growing
around the deadwood. White dead wood is not representative of death
but of the problems and obstacles that get in our way in everyday
life.  Suddenly I realized- this is similar to the challenges
that we face in our lives.

The challenges that are in our lives follow us like shadows,
surrounding and winding around us.  These conditions are around us
constantly, challenging us both mentally and spiritually.  Though
these hardships are difficult to deal with, they help determine who we
are.  When we overcome these challenges, we are stronger people.

Life comes out from a tiny seed, slowly budding into a small tree.
The bonsai accepts the challenge, growing up into an amazing tree.
It brings the hope of growing and maybe one day in the future,
these trees will become a forest.

On the way home, the friend asked what I have learned.
“From the bonsai, I learned about life, appreciated the artistry of
the craft, and I was enlightened by the philosophy of life the bonsai
brings forth.” I then summarized the following:
“Life is like a rainbow- the more you chase it the farther away it
is.   Like the bonsai, we stay present, work through our challenges
and through them we grow stronger.  A bud today becomes a branch
tomorrow and possibly a forest in the future.  Life goes on.”

A Butterfly’s Lesson

(The picture of the emergence of butterfly from cocoon is from Pics4learning.)

The text (author unknown) is from my friend’s e-mail. It is very inspiring and I think you will enjoy it.

”One day, a small opening appeared in a cocoon;  a man sat and watched  for the butterfly  for several hours  as it struggled to force its body through  that little hole.

Then, it seems to stop making  any progress. It appeared as if it  had gotten as far as it could and it could not go any further.So the man decided to help the butterfly: he took  a pair of scissors and opened the cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily. But  it had a withered body, it was tiny and shriveled wings.The man continued to watch because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would open, enlarge and expand, to be able to support the butterfly’s body, and become firm.

Neither happened!  In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a withered body and shriveled  wings. It never was able to fly. What  the man, in his kindness and his goodwill  did not understand  was that the restricting cocoon
and the struggle required  for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening, were nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were allowed to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong  as we could have  been. Never been able to fly.

I asked for Strength…
and I was given difficulties to make me strong.

I  asked for Wisdom…
and  I was given problems to solve.

I asked for prosperity…
and I was given a brain and brawn to work.

I asked for Courage…..
and I was given obstacles to overcome.

I asked for Love…
and I was given troubled people to help.

I asked for Favors…
And  I was given Opportunities.
“I received nothing I wanted…

But I received EVERYTHING  I needed.”

Live  life without fear, confront all obstacles
and know that you can overcome them.

The emergence of the butterfly:Ideopsis similis

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