Friday, July 17, 2009

Return to the Cave

Return to the Cave:
Education in a Transitional Society
1. Introduction

As John Dewey said, different societies have different types of education, so does the spirit, material and method of education. He said, “to make the general ideas set forth applicable to our own educational practice, it is, therefore, necessary to closer quarter with the nature of present social life” (Dewey, 1916). In this paper, I present my philosophy of education, as shaped by my life experiences as a member of Chinese society but influenced by my exposure to American society in the last two years.
More specifically, I have come to realize that education has two levels. At one level, education offers knowledge and information, providing people with a range of skills, from literacy to science and mathematics. At a second level, education teaches people to discover themselves, to fulfill their natural gifts and to pursue the truths of life. At both levels, there is a central figure involved: the teacher. In schools, instructors are central and in life’s education processes we also encounter influential persons who are also our teachers. In this paper, I trace both my philosophy of the role of teaching in education and my own narrative in my voyage to become a teacher as well.

2. The Cave

My homeland, China, was essentially a feudal society for over two thousand years (221B.C. to 1912A.D.), a mixture of feudal, colonial and democratic societies for 37 years (1912-1949), and a typical communist society for 29 years (1949-1978). After 1978, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began to implement economic reforms that transformed China’s formerly planned economy into a Chinese-style market economy with somewhat similar characters to western-style market economies. The CCP has also made some political reforms, but compared with its economic reform, the political changes have been very small.
According to Plato’s Republic, there are five forms of government: the ideal states ruled by philosopher kings, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny. I would catalog the present Chinese government as a tyranny, although I believe this is a transitional system and that the country will move toward democratic reforms as its economic development process accelerates and as the historical wave of countries that have moved to democracy continues.
Under this transitional society, there is a philosophical void to guide people’s hearts. About 100 years ago, many Chinese were looking for the reasons why China was a weak nation, and they attributed it to Chinese old philosophy---as expressed by Confucius Idea. So many criticized this philosophical worldview and converted instead to Marxist ideas, which were adapted by Mao and other communist followers to a society that was mostly feudal, and peasant-based (see Schurmann, 1968). This process reached its peak during the Cultural Revolution, which started in the mid-1960s, when the communist movement decided to get rid of any remaining pockets of Confucius ideas. Formal, academic education was essentially stopped and Chinese people were told to be educated in practice, with communist principles as the only guiding philosophy.
After 1978, the CCP changed its economic policies and Marxist economic ideas were heavily criticized, but still, in the political field, the CCP maintained its communist ideology and its control over the political system. This has generated a big conflict in the whole society. People are taught Marxism in school, but the whole society has changed and no one really believes those ideas any more. Recognizing this divide, the CCP has directed people to pursue material wealth, hoping that this focus will allow them to control people’s minds, but people cannot live without a spiritual foundation, without principles and philosophy. This has led to CCP to strengthen their grip on ideology and power. In schools, in the media, and elsewhere, discussion of freedom, democracy and alternative philosophies are strictly controlled. People cannot have any freedom of independent thinking, freedom of belief, and they are afraid to criticize the government.
The image I have of Chinese society at the present time is that of a dark cave. The schools, the media, etc. function in the shadow; and people can only see the shadows and are happy with the shadows, believing that the shadows are the truth. The CCP ideology taught in the schools and in the media feeds this illusion.
But there are some people who question the state’s monopoly on ideology, they think on their own, and can escape from the cave. Some are illuminated by their own self-consciousness and the need for freedom and self-determination. Western philosophers such as Rousseau, religious beliefs and their faith in God motivate others. They began to wake up, to break their chains, and escape to the outside. I am one of them.
As a former member of the Cave, I lived a very comfortable life there. But my exit is not connected to wealth. I am exiled by my own soul, a soul seeking freedom. I would rather live in light than stay in darkness. I believe the philosophy postulated by Rousseau and others that a basic human characteristic is self-determination. The pursuit of freedom is in our human nature, the calling from our soul. If you have never been in the Cave, you will never understand the empty feeling of living in shadows and the satisfaction of receiving light, of thinking and speaking freely, even while suffering some material shortage and a harder life.
I have told my own stories in my first paper---a way to enlightenment. Now, it is my time for me to prepare to return to the cave, to awake the other sleepy souls.
That is the reason I want to be a teacher. …

3. To be enlightened, to be a teacher, to return to the cave

What is the function of a teacher? An ancient Chinese scholar Hanyu said, “A teacher is someone who could propagate the Tao (the truth), impart professional knowledge, and resolve doubts.” This idea, that teachers seek to develop the ability of their students to think, to find the truth, to answer questions, resonates all the way to the present, as in the poem by John Schlatter: “I am a Teacher. I was born the first moment that a question leaped from the mouth of a child. I have been many people in many places. I am Socrates exciting the youth of Athens to discover new ideas through the use of questions. I am Anne Sullivan tapping out the secrets of the universe into the outstretched hand of Helen Keller. I am Aesop and Hans Christian Andersen revealing truth through countless stories.”
To fulfill these functions requires a teaching profession of the highest excellence. This is an issue that has resonated with educational researchers everywhere. I agree that only “the best and brightest should be entitled to teach” (Tomorrow’s Teachers, 1986).
And along this view, it means that the society should treat teachers with the highest respect. Historically, societies that gave the highest prestige to philosophers, scholars, and intellectuals also had some of the longest-lasting influences on the world. At the present time, it is, in fact, those school systems that see teaching as a high-prestige occupation in their country that have been the most successful, whether in Finland or in Singapore.
In Chinese history, teachers were highly respected; they have been called fathers of the children, or the holy persons. But since the Cultural Revolution, this tradition has been destroyed completely. At that time, teachers and professors became the symbol of “capitalist bourgeois intellectualism,” and the profession moved to the bottom of the ladder in prestige. Despite changes since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, teachers remain today with much lower prestige within the society. That is the tragedy of China as a society.
Now I am myself here at Teachers College, studying philosophy, economics, education, politics and so on, to become a teacher and –with others—change Chinese society so it recognizes the value of teachers. I love the knowledge I am acquiring at TC, because I believe knowledge can answer the questions in my life and enlighten me, just as I also believe that it can and should enlighten those back home in the Cave. I believe many of my country-people have the same questions as I have and they need to be enlightened as I needed before when I was there. So, it is our duty, us, who have escaped to return to the cave to educate our people with the truth we have learned. This is our duty, because the land there is our home. Although we have escaped, we still belong. The blood in our body, the food we have been feed, the culture we have been instilled etc., those are connections between us and the homeland that can never be broken. So, it is our duty now to be freely educated and to return to the cave, to be teachers, to wake up others, to save them. As teachers, we must become the best, wisest, and the noblest to do that.
My thinking on these issues follows John Dewey’s. He himself saw democratic institutions as the basis for strong, progressive societies. As he says: “Such societies were found to be democratic in quality, because of the greater freedom allowed the constituent members, and the conscious need of securing in individuals a consciously socialized interest, instead of trusting mainly to the force of customs operating under the control of a superior class.” And he saw education, and teachers specifically, as being crucial to sustaining and developing democratic institutions. He believed that the teacher needed to be gifted, stating that the teacher was “the prophet of God” and the “usherer of the true kingdom of God.”
Education is a timeless, lifelong process for human beings. The development of new knowledge and the transmission to society is a timeless activity. For those countries that are in Caves, our escape from those Caves is also a timeless mission, for the cave in China is one of many that mankind needs to dispel. In a world of great poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, etc., the presence of democracy and freedom of thought is one of many tasks that need to be accomplished. There are still many other caves in human life. The truth is far away, happiness is far away.
Will there always be caves that we can never escape from? The answer is yes, of course. Then it is the teacher’s duty to provide mankind with the light of hope. To tell us that despite the darkness, there is truth out there that we need to continue seeking. And to tell us that we should never give up to pursuit of truth.

4. Characters of present Chinese Education and the Purposes of Education

In understanding the Cave, I want to sketch in more detail some of the main problems facing Chinese education. A serious challenge in present Chinese education system is that the teachers do not know the purpose of their teaching and students do not know what the purpose of study is. According to both teachers and students, the goal of schooling is to obtain higher scores on exams. So, areas of study that are not tested are ignored and those that are tested are studied only insofar as they can improve test scores.
As a product of this system, I also thought that the goal of studying was to get higher test scores. Paradoxically, I first questioned this view until when I became thirty years old and decided to go to graduate school in US, which required me to prepare for the GRE. I was reading a GRE test review book that asked the question of why we should study. The answer given by the book was that we should study to: “make our mind a pleasant place in which to spend our time; to replace an empty mind with an open one; to help us to become autonomous, creative, inquiring people who have the will and intelligence to create our own destiny; to develop the personality of the individual and the significance of one’s life to oneself and to others. This is a basic architecture of a life; the rest is ornamentation and decoration of the structure; to let each child have a chance of equal opportunity, not to become equal, but to become different to realize whatever unique potential of body, mind, and spirit he or she possesses”. Tears came down my cheek at that time for I was awakened abruptly by these words and I began to feel that I have been cleverer from then on.
Another problem in Chinese education is at a second level; the Chinese teach students a view of their society that is far away from the reality. So, not only does the educational system has as a goal to train students to become tests machines, but also to train citizens who will not think by themselves and will not question government. So they force students to receive communist ideology and nationalist ideas when they are very young, from kindergarten to university.
Another issue in Chinese education relates to the huge inequality in schooling between poor rural and richer urban schools, so the kids in rural areas can hardly change their fate from the lower class, and hardly realize that others have taken rights and benefits that they do not have. Without a great amount of schooling, rural populations just migrate and become part of the huge, cheap urban labor market that helps make profits for very few in the country. So as Dewey said, what he considered to be a poor educational system will educate some people to become masters, and others to become slaves. This is the case of China.
How would the educational system differ, if the cave were to be removed? In China, children and youth are educated to become citizens of a society that is based on control by the CCP and where dissent and freedom of expression is limited on this regard. A democratic society also educates people to be good citizens in their society. The difference is that, as Dewey emphasizes, the democratic society is set up for the mutual benefit of the people. By definition, democracy is based on the choices of most of the people in a country, so it will be to the benefit of most people in that society.
In a democracy, people have freedom of the press and many choices to acquire information, and they have the freedom also to not to listen to some ideas they do not like. But in a tyranny, most people are excluded from obtaining full information about the society and there is no freedom of choice. Only successes are advertised and mistakes are hidden. The Chinese system is constantly advertised as a success, with a focus on some economic results while ignoring others, such as the rising inequality, the growing environmental deterioration and congestion, etc.
Of course, the tension between educating a free-thinking individual and one that can function within society’s rules and conventions still exists within any regime, whether democratic or tyrannical. Rousseau in Emile declared that “Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the Author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man.” He wished to educate children with the natural goodness of human nature. But Rousseau also acknowledged that every society “must choose between making a man or a citizen” and that the best “social institutions are those that best know how to denature man, to take his absolute existence from him in order to give him a relative one and transport the I into the common unity.” To “denature man” for Rousseau is to suppress some of the “natural” instincts that he extols in The Social Contract. It is an effort to explain how natural man can live within society. John Dewey also points out other purpose as Social Efficiency, which is similar to Rousseau’s second idea---is to supply precisely what nature fails to secure; namely, habituation of an individual to social control; subordination of natural powers to social rules. It can be translated into specific aims, such as to equip people with abilities or skills to have a better life; to be a good citizen.
` As for me, what are the goals of education? I think there are four basic levels of education.
The most important and urgent education, especially in a transitional society such as China, is awaking people’s soul, enlighten them to realize their freedom and self-determination as individuals, to discover their rights and to guide them to the light of truth. This is the first phase of education. I do not believe it can be implemented in a tyranny society officially. When souls wake up, they will not follow the tyranny’s rules, and they will begin to discover themselves the inhumanity of tyranny.
The second phase is making people discover their own natural gifts and make good use of those gifts to achieve everyone’s mission in society and their right to
pursue a meaningful and happy life. I assume that this phase could be implemented in both democracies and tyrannies.
The third phase is John Dewey’s aim: to educate individuals to become good citizens. For China, this can only be implemented when it can be transmitted in a democratic society. I think the social efficiency also means that all members in the society seek to democratically bargain for and negotiate a social contract which provides a mutually beneficial outcome. Ideally, this way society can get to a Pareto efficient outcome, where no one individual can be better off without making another individual worse off. No further improvements can be made and the whole society gets to a balance where everybody is the happiest they can be. This is my ideal society.
The highest level of education is Rousseau’s return to a true man. As Dewey said, Rousseau had identified “God with Nature, to him, the original powers are wholly good, coming directly from a wise and good creator”. I think the message he brought about us---maybe the only way for the future of human beings-- is to return to the Garden of Eden, and human return to true man, where there is no sin, no suffering, no inequality and everything is good…we can finally live poetically on the earth….so to make human return to nature, the eternal teacher is God himself, or truth , or life. I think that is why Dewey thinks teachers are “the prophet of God” and the “usherer of the true kingdom of God.” This level is idyllic in nature and is likely no society can achieve it.

5. Some Methods of Education

In terms of teaching, I start by noting that as human beings of teachers, or even Prophets of God, have many limitations compared with God himself and should be modest. Dewey himself said that teachers can learn from children: ‘With respect to sympathetic curiosity, unbiased responsiveness, and openness of mind, we many that the adult should be growing in childlikeness”.
The same point was made by Hanyu in a different way: “Anyone who was born before me and learned the Tao before me is my teacher. Anyone who was born after me and learned the Tao after me is also my teacher. Where there is the Tao, there is my teacher. The ancient sages did not limit themselves to particular teachers. Confucius had learned from who were not as virtuous and talented as him. He said ‘If three men are walking together, one of them is bound to be good enough to be my teacher’. A student is not necessarily inferior to his teacher, nor does a teacher necessarily be more virtuous and talented than his student. The real fact is that one might have learned the doctrine earlier than the other, or might be a master in his own special field”.
Some things we need to leave to Nature to teach, as Rousseau did for Emile. Since the highest level purpose of education is to return to true man, and since children are purest and the most beautiful creatures, some part of education must just let children grow up by themselves, with nature as their teachers. As a tree in the wilderness, they will naturally grow as well in this regard. Education is a process of living, as Dewey said. So we should give back some time to children for themselves, to let them play with their peers, with their own games rules, to set up their own worlds, and do not disturb them with our false ideas.
But since children will need to enter into society, we still need to educate them with the knowledge of that society. The teaching of Socrates---questions and dialogs-- is a good way of teaching and learning. The teacher is just directing students to realize the truth in their inner heart. In fact, the hardest knowledge to acquire, for which there are no standard answers, this way may be the best approach.
Show students what we have learned in any specific field. This kind of knowledge is accumulated in human civilization, and needs to be transferred to the next generations. For applied knowledge one must also learn from life, from experience, experiments.

6. The target of Education

The first and most important target of education is children. So in a transitional society, it is urgent to save our kids first from the cave, because they are the future. Since they have not been polluted by human concerns over ideology, power, etc., and they can therefore achieve more easily the educational levels and paths I discussed earlier.
There are a number of important challenges for children in Chinese society today. Educational researchers, for example, often note the lack of creativity and innovation displayed in Chinese classrooms (Tobin, Wu and Davidson, 1989). The emphasis on discipline which permeates the CCP-based system of education tends to have this consequence, which is disastrous for free-thinking, innovative individuals. In the U.S., American children tend to be more improvisational and creative because in their mind there is no forbidden area to restrict their thinking ---they can fly if they want. The ideology of limiting thinking has resulted in a rigid and disciplinary system of schooling that restricts individuality.
The one child policy adopted by China to reduce population growth has also had some other consequences. In seeking to obey the policy, families have fallen into actions that reflect no respect for children and life. In rural areas, the old life style and ideas still exist and people are eager to have a son. As a result of the One Child Policy, many girl babies have been aborted. In addition, one wonders about the consequences for Chinese children of not having brothers and sisters, and whether this may affect their feelings of sharing, caring, and courtesy. Furthermore, parents often put lots of pressures on the one child they have since their future hopes are often based on that one child. They have the heaviest school bags, the least hours of sleep and play compared with their peers in the world.
The second target of education is adult, especially in rural areas. This represents one of the areas of inequality in the country that I noted earlier. Adequate resources are not provided to educate the adult, rural populations of the country. The absence of voice among these populations on China’s CCP leadership has resulted in their marginalization. The only choice available is to change policies.
And indeed, one should not give up in terms of educating those in power. They are in the cave too. We should let them know that their way of ruling cannot make themselves better off in the long-run and that the problems that the current system has generated may eventually come back to haunt them.

7. Concluding Remarks

Return to the cave is part of a process of eliminating barriers and darkness, a process that is unlikely to end. Western democracies face their own challenges as well. The sunshine of truth is so far away from all of us. Maybe when we escape from this cave, we will fall into another cave, or maybe we will enter into a bigger cave. Enlightenment and education are ceaseless processes.
Can we in China get out of the cave? Following a now well-known political slogan: Yes, we can. We are getting there. China is getting there, because it is the calling from our hearts to break the ropes; the human basic need for participation, freedom of speech and religion, and basic human rights. These ideas will rise in Chinese people’s soul. Light will come and enlighten the darkness in our soul. This mission is calling us who have escaped, to return to the cave and bring about light there.
As Bertrand Russell said in his three passions of life: Three passions have governed my life: The longings for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. I share these passions and they guide my desire to become a teacher. Bearing the sense of duty, I will continue to grow myself, getting enlightened soon, equipping with love, knowledge I have learned from the great teachers present and in human history, and the truth I have found, return to the cave, to free our people.

8. References
Dewey, John. 1916. Democracy and Education. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company.
Dewey, John. Dewey on Education (Selections). Teachers College, Columbia University.
Plato. Republic. Hackett Publishing Co.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Emile. Introduction, Translation, and Notes by Allan Bloom. Basic Books.
Holmes Group. 1986. Tomorrow’s Teachers. East Lansing: The Holmes Group.
Schurmann, Franz. 1968. Ideology and Organization in Communist China. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Tobin, Joseph, David Yu and Dana Davidson. 1989. Preschool in Three Cultures: Japan, China and the United States. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Mao Zedong: Savior or Dictator?

Mao Zedong: Savior or Dictator?
Professor Nathan raised an important question regarding Mao Zedong: why people followed him? This question induced me to write this exploratory paper. As a Chinese resident, looking back on how Mao Zedong is seen in China, among colleagues and friends, I realize that people in China fervently followed him not only when he was alive but also even today. Furthermore, people not just in China, but around the world worship him. Maoist political and insurgency movements still exist in many parts of the world. Many remember him as a savior of the poor, a successful revolutionary and a good war and foreign policy strategist. In today’s China, plagued by rampant corruption, many miss Mao’s time when the people could question and beat officials. Others are concerned about the big gap between rich and poor and miss the greater degree of equality prevailing under Mao. But many just miss his populist appeal: in times without heroes, they miss the towering figure of Mao. Of course, there are dissenting views. Some share the prevailing view among many western scholars that Mao was a dictator like Hitler and Stalin. Others have mixed feelings about Mao. But the reality is that Mao Zedong enjoyed for decades –and continues to enjoy today-- the strong support of many in the Chinese population.
The question of why Mao Zedong was followed so ardently is an issue that permeates populist political science. Many others, from Peron to Fidel Castro, have received broad popular support. It is an important question to determine why they are followed, not only because populist leaders have influenced history, but because they will continue to emerge in politics, whether it is a Hugo Chavez or some other strongman elsewhere. But I like to find out why Mao Zedong was followed because of my own personal reasons. I am one of those confused Chinese people who have such complicated feelings on him. This is an essential topic for Chinese people, again not only involving history but also the present and future of China, because populism could make its way back into Chinese politics. This exploratory paper provides my own initial steps towards answering this question.
How to make judgments about continuing support for a leader? Often, people do not have a clear principle of how to judge leaders who have a complicated personality or have accomplished various deeds. But what should be that principle? I realize that our judgment should be based on a humanistic principle---the impact the leader has had on us as human beings. This impact can vary and be difficult to assess due to the many dimensions we have as individuals, relating to class: landlord, capitalists, workers and farmers; wealth: rich or poor; religion: atheist, Buddhist, etc.; regional: urban versus rural, or provincial; time: whether we focus on the past, present or future, and even psychologically and culturally, in terms of how we see authority figures. Each person makes an overall assessment of a political leader on the basis of how valuable the leader is to him or her. Therefore, to determine what moves someone to support a populist leader, one can examine his or her main political, economic, education, cultural, etc. positions and policies, and analyze how their implementation has influenced a person’s life. I will start this exploration by focusing on my own evaluation of Mao Zedong’s policies and deeds.
My evaluation of Mao Zedong
Period before 1949. This must be considered Mao’s most successful. It was a time when China’s old and traditional social system entered into a transition period when many people felt a duty to look for a new system to make China a stronger and modern country. In 1912, Sun Yet Sen had set up a government whose goal was to set up democracy in China, but the process was delayed by the warlord war and stopped by the Japanese invasion. Many saw Mao as a modernization alternative, one which would destroy the archaic, semi-feudal system in the country while strengthening the nation. Indeed, Mao was an ardent nationalist when he was young. He was ambitious, smart and wanted to help the country. He realized the importance of workers and peasants and wanted to alleviate their suffering. He also had strong leadership abilities, which allowed him to beat all his enemies inside the CCP (Wangming, Zhang Guotao, etc.) and outside it, including Qiang Kai sheik.
Of course, in reaching power, Mao led bloody movements which had substantial destructive power as well. But from the vantage point of 1949, one can understand why many people supported him and had great hopes for the future.
The political policy after 1949: Law must run a country, but as professor Nathan mentioned in class, there was essentially no legal system in China at all during Mao’s time. So there were no laws to protect people’s rights, no laws to regulate government performance, etc. As a result, Mao and his supporters had no boundaries in pursuing adversaries and imposing their will on anybody within the country. From the country’s Minister of Defense, Peng Dehuai, President Liu Shaoqi, to any landowners, capitalists, intellectuals, etc., could be persecuted, without any guidelines. There are political movements one by one, and many people have been persecuted. One recent scholarly account asserts that in rural China alone some 36 million people were persecuted, of whom between 750,000 and 1.5 million were killed, with roughly the same number permanently injured .
Mao had called for democracy on in his 1945 article “On the Combined Government.” But after he gained power, he reversed course and, on the contrary, he built a One Party Dictatorship, just as he had criticized in Qiang Kaisheik’s government. He cheated other parties, such as the Democratic Union, which originally supported the CCP, and fooled the whole Chinese people who had admired him so much. While his supporters and his political and military machinery ardently followed him, a significant fraction of the population was marginalized. Fears and hatred was promoted about populations within China, to gain the support of the masses. This approach was at its peak during the Cultural Revolution.
The Chinese communist system became Mao’s personal dictatorship. Mao said he would build the “Proletarian dictatorship and will take away all the bad people’s right of speech, but only give proletarian people the right of speech” . And he did it. He was successful in maintaining his political power, but this came at a substantial cost to the country, not only in terms of civil rights and the lack of personal freedom, but also economically.
Economic policy: Mao copied from the Soviet Union the planned economic system, totally giving up on markets. In the agricultural sector, after 1949, the land owned by landlords and peasants was taken away and redistributed to poor peasants, which was the policy Mao used to induce peasants to join his army (following other peasant rebellions of the past). But soon, Mao betrayed the peasants who had helped him. The peasants’ land, tools and animals were taken away when collective farms were created and later changed into communes. He also implemented the household policy that prohibited the mobility of peasants. The aim was to use cheap agriculture products to support the industrialization in cities. These policies seriously hurt the peasants’ quality of life and led to a loss of incentives for agricultural production.
Mao’s economic policies were also disastrous in the industrial sector, Mao tried to develop heavy industry quickly, as he wanted to enter into a communist society as fast as he could. He said China would surpass the steel production of the UK in 15 years. But due to a lack of technology and skilled labor, this Great Leap was never realized. On the contrary, the collapse of agriculture and the lack of industrial progress led to the death of 20 to 30 million people through 1959—1961 because of starvation. Liu Shaoqi made a speech in 1962 at Seven Thousand Man's Assembly criticizing that "The economic disaster was 30% fault of nature, 70% human error." Mao’s economic policies were abandoned after the Deng Xiaoping ‘s reforms, when China returned to a market economic system.
Culture and education policy: Education policy in China was dominated by communist ideology and shifted depending on Mao’s whims and those of the system he had implanted. Mao had an anti-intellectual side that emerged periodically in purges of intellectuals and cultural workers. The maximum expression of this was during the Cultural Revolution, when universities were closed, literature was forbidden, books burned and the Red Guards destroyed many ancient sites. Intellectuals were sent to labor camps between 1955 and the 1970s. Between 12 and 18 million youth were sent to countryside. They only received primary to high school education. Higher education was stopped. At the same time. 369 million of Mao’s Quotations and 1,214 million of his pictures were printed .
Conclusion. My own detailed personal assessment of Mao’s accomplishments is mixed, but definitely tilts towards a very negative assessment. His period before 1949 suggested a strong leader with great potential to improve the human condition in China. His personality and motivation were influenced by his family, the background of Chinese society at that time, Marxism, and ancient Chinese culture. As a Marxist and Qing Shihuang, Mao became in effect the last emperor during the long march of Chinese searching for a modern social system. He appeared at first as an idealist who wanted to build up a communism Utopian or Datong (Great Harmony) society. He had done good research on the past Chinese emperors and peasants uprisings, and he acquired power on the basis of strong strategic analysis of his enemies.
But the hopes that Mao represented in 1949 were never realized and the political and economic disasters during the 1949 to 1976 period dominate any assessment to be made of Mao as a leader. His self-absorbed and ambitious personality and desire to maintain power blinded any broader societal goals and, despite greater equality, led to poverty and dismal economic growth.
Given the evident political and economic disasters under Mao’s rule, one must rely on other factors to explain why Mao has had so much support. It is possible that nationalist and communist ideologies, deeply ingrained in education and society during Mao’s era, could have led to judgments that were not based on reality. This is especially the case in communist countries where indoctrination is part of the strategy to maintain support for a leader. This does not explain, however, why Mao has maintained so much prestige among various political movements outside the country. Misinformation, however, could explain this. The fact is that the CCP decided to provide a rosy picture of Mao and has provided the world with limited negative information about Mao. In addition, Mao damaged mostly people in his own country, inside China, and he did not do harm to other countries, such as Hitler did. This also limited negative attitudes towards him outside China.
This exploratory paper has served as my first step in the examination of the question of why Mao Zedong has been followed so ardently. I believe this is an important question that must be studied carefully. The influence of populist leaders on a country’s political system can run deep. Even today, within the CCP, there are still Mao’s shadows there: the authoritarian regime, the pragmatic foreign policies, the view that practice is the only way to test the truth, etc. In fact, the CCP’s documents and the style of writing of Chinese media and people still follow the style adopted under Mao. It is important, therefore, to understand Mao’s appeal.
Finally, I should conclude with some more general thoughts I have on my investigation of Mao’s life and his accomplishments (or lack of them). I find that the philosophy of politics of its leaders is very important to a country. Mao had a pragmatic view that justified any means to achieve a goal, including the most abject ignorance of life (through violence and war), and lack of humanity (as reflected in the excesses of the Cultural Revolution). As it turns out, an alternative political philosophy, one which could have been more successful, I believe would have been based on a humanistic idea, which involves an emphasis on human rights, negotiation, and tolerance with each other, instead of hate, war and violence. A political system based on these values is more likely to lead to long-term improvements in quality of life.
Jin Zhong (Editor), Mao Zedong Pipan(Critisize), KeNing Public House, Taiwan, 1994
Chen Zhirang, Mao Zedong and Chinese Revolution, edited by the CCP’s Historical Document Rublish House,1963
Zhisui, Li, The Private Life of Chairman Mao--the Memoirs of Mao’s Peronal Physician, Translated by Professor Tai Hung-chao, with the editorial assistant of Anne F. Thurston, New York, Random House, 1994.
Terrill, Ross, Mao: A Biography, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.
The Honesty Words (Zhiyan), Lirui’s worry and thinking during 60 years, Lirui. Today’s China Publish House

The Historical Judgment: Was Mao Zedong a Savior (Hero) or a Dictator (Emperor) of China?

A Book Review on:
The Private Life of Chairman Mao and The True Stories in History

This review is about two books on Mao Zedong. The first one is: The Private Life of Chairman Mao, --the Memoirs of Mao’s Personal Physician. The book was written by Dr. Li Zhisui, Mao Zedong’s personal Physician. It was translated by Professor Tai Hung-chao, with the editorial assistance of Anne F. Thurston; with foreword by Professor Andrew J. Nathan. It was published by Random House in 1994. The book addressed the history of China under the ruling of Mao, told stories about Mao’s private life and the strategies he followed with his associates from 1954 until his death in 1976. In this book, through the eye’s of Doctor Li, Mao Zedong was described as an emperor, a dictator who had the absolute power to control everyone’s life and the country’s fate. The second book reviewed is: The True Stories in History—the Testimony of Mao Zedong’s Staff (Lishi De Zhenshi, Mao Zedong Shenbian Gongzuo Renyuan De Zhengyan), by Lin Ke, Xu Tao, Wu Xujun, the staff who worked close to Mao Zedong. The publisher is The CCP’s Central Documentary Publishing House. The authors were Doctor Li’s colleagues back in China at that time. Their book criticized Doctor Li’s book and Doctor Li’s personality. They gave their testimony to prove that Doctor Li was unreliable, that his book’s accounts were not true, and that, by contrast, Mao Zedong was a great leader, a hero, a savior of China.
This review will criticize both books, pointing out what I think are the weaknesses of both authors. The main question I believe should be answered is: what material can we use and how can we judge a person who has been very important in world history, who has influenced and still influences so many people in one big nation and around the world?
Assessing the world political leaders: The Role of Personal Memoirs
In assessing the life and work of major world political leaders, whether Joseph Stalin, John F. Kennedy, or Mao Zedong, should a number of standards be followed? Standard scholarly works have examined in detail the social, economic and political forces behind the rise to power and the policies implemented by these leaders. But a different approach has been followed by biographies and personal memoirs of the leaders, which focus on the details of the personal life of the person. These authors seek psychological insights into the thinking of the leaders. They scrutinize personal, biographical aspects that may explain their decision-making. They try to find secret, previously unknown personal strategies, negotiations or relationships between the leaders and others that may have deeply influenced a country.
As such, personal biographies or memoirs complement social science research in the understanding of the leaders and their life, especially those in authoritarian regimes where policy is often deeply influenced by the personal actions of a leader. As Professor Nathan states in the book’s Foreword, “Personal memoirs about great democratic leaders, ..tell us less about history than the biographies of dictators do, because democratic leaders have less room to impose their personalities on events. As for the Chinese tradition, the “basic annals” of each reign record the rituals, portents, alliances, memorials, and enfeoffments that made up emperor’s performance of his role, but they rarely reveal the personalities beneath the robes. ..The combination of access and insight makes the Private Life of Chairman Mao Unique.”
Dr. Li presents a life of “ultimate luxury, simplicity” as Prof. Nathan concluded, a troublesome personal life of Mao. The book asserts that Mao never brushed his teeth, never took a bath himself; worked, talked or called people anytime he needed them (most of the time was after midnight), served by many young people, had young girls as his secretaries and as dancing partners, with no family members staying with him, and was separated with a strange wife---Jiangqing-- who would suddenly appear in front of people and criticized anyone she wished; encircled by his blind loyal or crafty associates; even after he died, his cadaver has been maintained as a modern mummy until now..
Dr. Li’s book shows the fear, scrupulousness, conflicts, and tension in “Emperor Mao’s palace” (his words) where his staff ---the Dr. himself, nurses, bodyguards, cook and so on-- must be very careful of what they did and said, just like the description in the famous novel Dream of the Red Chamber, and also like the old Chinese saying: people who work close to the emperor are just like one is staying beside a tiger. It is a life between life and death, glory and horror.
Dr. Li also emphasized the personal aspects of Mao’s successful or failed strategies to maintain control over the political leadership of the CCP, his likes and dislikes of domestic and world leaders and the sometimes imperious nature of major policy changes he undertook. After reading the book, it is hard not to call Mao a “petty dictator.”
At the same time, there are several serious shortcomings of personal memoirs in providing a serious understanding of world leaders. First of all, there is a question of the reliability of the observer. In social science research, we seek to maintain an unbiased analysis of the subject. But in many biographies and certainly in memoirs, those providing the accounts are not unbiased since they themselves were deeply involved with those being examined. It is therefore difficult to assess the reliability of the information being provided since the point of view of the author can be biased in different ways.
The personal involvement of the author in this book is very clear. Professor Nathan describes the deep personal relationship of Dr. Li: “Nor has any other dictator been as intimately observed as Mao is in this memoir by the man who served as his personal physician for twenty-two years.” The author’s personal animosity, friendship, his lacking of politic knowledge and full information, as he himself described, may influence his observations.
These biases may not necessarily be intentional or conscious. But not only the personal views will influence a personal memoir, there may be influences from the political or ideological biases as well. His book is written from outside China and may be seen as a critique of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). And this is also the main problem with The True Stories in History book, which came out four years after Dr. Li’s book, in 1998. It is based on the testimony of Mao Zedong’s Staff, by Lin Ke (one of Mao’s secretaries), Xu Tao(Mao’s personal doctor from 1953--1957), and Wu Xujun (one of Mao’s nurses ). The authors remain in China and may be seen as responding to political bias or pressures from the party, to prove that Dr Li’s book was not true, that Mao was not a terrible dictator, but a great hero.
The difficulty in assessing the reliability of the conflicting personal accounts in these two books is made more complicated by the lack of transparency in China and the secrecy surrounding Mao and his era. Which of the two accounts presents the real Mao? Dr. Li, for example, presents a side of Mao that no one has seen. Though possibly true, the problem is that this picture is difficult to confirm or corroborate. There are some specific points of dispute in terms of the personal descriptions of Mao by Dr. Li and those by Mao’s staff, such as the semen test, Linke’s hiding document, the arrest of Jiangqing and the Gang of four, why Mao started the anti-Rightness movement and the Culture Revolution but these again are difficult to judge without any corroborating evidence.
Another limitation of personal memoirs in assessing world leaders is that the context within which the persons writing these memoirs operate may exaggerate the personal shortcomings of those being exposed. A personal memoir can focus on the sexual indiscretions of Presidents John F. Kennedy or President Bill Clinton, and this may lead to a view of those leaders as being personally, morally corrupt. Yet, it is also clear that an analysis of the policies undertaken by these same leaders –in their activities as government officials and leaders-- shows very committed, responsible and moral actions in their professional life. In the same vein, the focus of Dr. Li and the other Mao’s staff on his personal life may provide a distorted view of the professional and policy actions he undertook.
Was Mao a petty dictator or not? It is my conclusion that there are too many limitations for us to make a clear judgment right now on the basis of these two books. To judge one person, especially one who had such a tremendous impact on so many people’s fates must wait.
First of all, we must realize that the two books reviewed here are personal memoirs that just cannot be looked at historical documents. There are no corroborating sources and the discussion may be clouded by personal bias or political influences. We cannot judge someone by his private life, such as his sexual life or distasteful personal traits, unless one can document that those were directly connected to important professional decisions made in policy and government or those were an unnecessary waste of public resources. In assessing whether Mao was indeed a “petty dictator,” we would have to consider the broader social, economic and political context of his personal leadership. Where did his economic policies come from, what intellectual influences or ideologies made him adopt the Great Leap Forward, what were the political forces that made him sponsor the Cultural Revolution and so on? These issues are only touched by these books, and the statements made are based on personal recollections that cannot be confirmed.
Secondly, the documentation necessary to resolve some of the conflicting statements in the two books is not available yet. It will have to wait until that time when China becomes more open and transparent. Given the fact that The True Stories in History book does not really contest most of Dr. Li’s observations, we may presume that Dr. Li’s book is correct, but any confirmation must wait.
Having made these criticisms, I also want to emphasize that personal memoirs do have their role in social science analysis. I mentioned this in the introduction and I want to conclude with some thoughts on this. Given the lack of information on Mao’s internal circles, and the extensive propaganda spread by the CCP, Doctor Li’s book, just by portraying a different picture and raising doubts about official versions, makes a big contribution. I believe that in the future, Dr. Li’s accounts of the Mao era may also join other scholarly works in providing a broad perspective on Mao’s period in Chinese history.

Li Zhisui, The Private Life of Chairman Mao--the Memoirs of Mao’s Personal Physician, Translated by Professor Tai Hung-chao, with the editorial assistant of Anne F. Thurston, New York, Random House, 1994.
Li Zhisui, The Memoirs of Mao’s Personal Physician,
Lin Ke, Xu Tao, Wu Xujun, The True Stories in History—the testimony of Mao Zedong’s Stuff, (LIshi De Zhenshi), Beijing, The CCP’s Central Documentary Publishing House,1998.
Andrew Nathan, Jade and Plastic, London review of books, 17 November 2005.

Andrew Nathan, The Bloody Enigma, The New Republic Nov.27 & Dec.4, 2006.

Ross Terrill, Mao: A Biography, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.
Lirui, Speaking Bluntly (Zhiyan), Lirui’s worry and thinking during 60 years, China Today Publish House, 1998.
Richard Bernstein, The Tyrant Mao, as Told by His Doctor, The New York Times, October 2, 1994.

Thursday, July 16, 2009






A way to enlightenment

Education has two levels or components. At one level, education offers knowledge and information, providing people with a range of skills, from literacy to science and mathematics. At a second level, education teaches people to discover themselves, to fulfill their natural gifts and to pursue the truths of life. The first level we can achieve in any type of school system, whether it is western or eastern, state or private…When we compare education systems at this level, we assess students and look at math test scores, grades in physics and other subjects, and so on. But at the second level, it is much harder to assess, and we do not usually provide comparisons of how countries are doing in it. Partly, the problem is that when we look at the education we acquire in relation to our life skills and our knowledge of life, school is just one part, difficult to disentangle from the influences we get from the rest of society. Life skills are obtained not only in schools but they are a self-study experience and a lifetime procedure, which is something we can get from family, friends, from our own experiences at home and in our countries. So, during all of our lifetime, we are in a school of learning, we are growing ourselves to become enlightened human beings, seeking our gifts and purpose in life.
As I examine my own personal views, at both levels, I feel the American education system differs substantially from the Chinese system. In some aspects, the American system is superior to the Chinese system. But I will discuss this in the second paper. Now I will discuss in more detail the self-discovery components of education using my own personal experiences. I will tell stories about some of my friends, people who look like anyone else to someone from outside, but who appeared in some special periods of my life, enlightened me with their special gifts and ideas, maybe they left or we did not keep contact later, but whom I always looked as teachers, helping and guiding me during my long, painstaking path to enlightenment. So I wish one day I could be a teacher too, to enlighten others as my teachers have enlightened me.
My education in China and coming to America
I had low self-esteem when I was a teenager since I was born in a poor village in Northwest China. I was struggling because of it, until I went to college, and graduated and worked. Then I knew how important education was. My studies and the college experience made me realize how important it was for me to take this opportunity and channel it towards the benefit of my people. My province has some unique historical sites and I studied Economics of Tourism in college, with the feeling that I had a chance to find the direct solutions to help to change the poor socioeconomic situation of my people.
After I graduated, I went to work in International Trade Promotion Council in my hometown; most of our jobs were organizing travel groups for governmental officials and state-owned enterprises to go abroad, visiting and studying foreign experiences and finding trade opportunities. But I was disappointed for I found most of those trips were wasted and not produced for the benefits for the people. So I left my job. I became a government Audit Officer that I thought had authority to control some wrongdoings in the government. I could perhaps make a difference this way. But I was disappointed again because I found many serious wrongdoings in my own work experiences. My specialty involved the auditing of public funds in projects relating to many issues such as poverty reduction, rural development, rural education support, and environment protection. Through my work, I found significant waste in public investments. Supervision is often ineffective and funds end up in the wrong hands. Meanwhile, I observed, researched and communicated with people about my findings. I found that under the veneer of economic prosperity, there are deep problems in the Chinese system, leading to the unequal treatment of people; greater suffering for the powerless and poor; and an excessive exploitation of natural resources that has led to a deteriorating environment and quality of life.
Despite all the problems, I felt there was little I could do in my job. Most of the time auditors cannot fulfill their duty. The impact is small and limited by bureaucracy and politics. I began to feel doubts about my ability to generate change.
At this time, in my work, I met Mr. He, an agriculture expert in a project financed by the Word Bank. He told me that the failures in my job were not my fault, but the problem of society at large, which pushes honest people to distort their ideals in order to serve and cater to the system. If you did not adapt yourself to the job, you would feel pain. The alternative was to escape. He encouraged me to study English and leave China, which was what he was doing as well. He said he was doing this for himself and his daughter. He hoped his daughter would not live a life like ours. After 8 years, he finally was successful, left China and migrated to Canada. He had to do a few labor jobs at the beginning, but he was happy, for he had found that he and his daughter did not have to compromise their principles in their work and in their lives.
My meetings and interactions with Mr. He furthered my education enormously. It led me to ask some serious questions about China. What is wrong with the way our society is evolving? Why have so many emerging social, environmental and other problems been left untouched? Why so many people are treated unfair? Why is our population silent, without voice in determining their future? As adults, how can we bear to let our children face the same uncertain future that we had to face? My lack of self-esteem in my younger years had now completely evolved into raising questions about the unequal treatment that my poor countryside fellows were suffering, and the plight of the common people in China, guiding me to realize the need to fight for civil and human rights.
So, life experiences are keys to our education, influencing future life. And even negative feelings can be something, which will benefit and make a difference. I realized this during my struggle with my feelings about my country’s and my own situation, with the help of my friend. Everybody has a special gift and can achieve something in life. One must find out this gift and follow it. This is what the self-discovery level of education is about. So it strengthened my will to be a teacher, who can help others to find out their natural gifts, to help people as my friend enlightened me.
I have many other inspired friends, who have contributed to my education. Another one is Xiaoqing, Jiang, who is a Buddhist. I met him at the same time I met Mr. he. Jiang was an accountant in our local’s party newspaper. But his knowledge was far beyond accounting, ranging from ancient Chinese books to current policy issues, from religions to metaphysics. We talked about sutra and we both agreed that a good religion was about love and kindness. He taught me about Buddhism, its ideas and about meditation, which he believed could bring peace into our sorrow hearts in this abnormal society. For more peace, he decided to decrease his personal desires. So he influenced me to become a vegetarian, which I did after half a year of struggling. Later, I could face money and petty favors --which auditors would face all day in our job-- with an honest heart. Later, I also decided to give of my own money to help the poor and the weak by creating the Shining Phoenix Foundation, although my salary was very low. Now I understand the influence Jiang had on me. He made me understand that if you cut your own personal desire, you will have a more open heart to the broad world. He also introduced me to read Chinese old books like Lao Zi, the Analects, for there are also good political ideas in the ancient Chinese culture which the modern Chinese school system does not teach.
The third influential person in my life education was Li, whom I also met at work. Just like Jiang, Li also had special talents, even more like a fortuneteller than a scientist. He told me he could see the talents in me and which could make a contribution to our people. So he decided he would train me as a traditional master trains a student. This education went on for a period of about five years. There were many unforgettable training and learning experiences. Here I will give one example. We listed out most of my personal shortcomings, and he helped me to overcome them one by one. One of them was I would get angry very easily if I found out people in my audited projects or my colleagues did something wrong. But Li asked me to control my temper at any time. He said people around me are institutional victims; the system has led them to bad behavior. I should not blame them personally, instead, I should be more tolerant and understand them. I could work together with them and bring about more significant changes this way.
Li also influenced me in other ways. He was one of the first to introduce me to religion. He had visited Europe and brought me a DVD of Moses: The Exodus. From that time, I began to learn about Christianity. He always encouraged me to study in America, which I did. Li became a Buddhist after I left China. He forbids me to contact him except when I had made great progress in my life. He said his task as my teacher had finished. He believed that I would learn much in the United States, achieve what I wanted in life, and make great contribution to our people, but that it would not be easy and I needed to be very strong to handle any difficulties on my own.
Since that time, in1998, the fire of pursuing truth has been burning in my deep heart and has never died. Some power is waking up in my soul. What I experienced, heard and saw, always made me sad and sometimes angry, but from these feelings I learned and I matured, with an urge to learn more in school, to think and to write. I read books from western writers of the enlightenment age and Chinese contemporary liberal authors. I read the articles of Professor Mao Shoulong, a prominent Chinese political scholar, who studied one year in America and came back to China, and who wants to be the Chinese Tocqueville. I met Professor Mao twice and asked his help on my reading of political books.
Through my life experiences I realized that I needed to quickly grasp intensive, complete and systematical knowledge to help me in any cause that benefits the poor and weak in my country. I needed to go to America and continue my education, at both levels of education, by learning in graduate-level universities, but also by meeting new people who would teach me more about life and truth. When I told friends about my decision to study in America, most of them supported me, but they were also worried about me. Professor Bai Jiandong once said: “if I could, I would go to study in America. But to a woman, a life of study is difficult. You sacrifice lots of common enjoyment, like the thorn bird.”…But it is not sacrifice, because the thorn bird has to do that, she is driven to and is happy to do that”. I said. The move to the United States did indeed involve a lot of sacrifices for me. The preparation of English, taking tests, applications, failures suffered sometimes, sickness, the separation from my son, and many more struggles were as hard as can be, but now that I am here in the U.S. I can say with conviction that “the life we call blessed is located on a high peak”. I know that I took a very important step in my life-long learning, in my way to enlightenment.
My experience in America
My education has increased enormously since I came to the United States as a World Bank Sponsored Scholar in 2007. The first level of education got a boost as I enrolled at Sipa, Columbia University as a master’s student, in a Economics program. Although it was a challenging time, my knowledge was expanded in many different ways. I liked the way the American education system pushes you to think and explore new areas of knowledge. Education in China was much more structured.
My new experiences with American education also led me to become more curious about education as a field. As a result, I applied to a doctoral program. It is a new leap in my education that will take me closer to my goals of being a teacher and influencing people through my own teaching.
But I have also learned a lot in America at the second level. Life takes you in unexpected directions and one of those directions was my experience with religion, which was completely new to me.
I began to get to know the life of Christianity after I watched the movie the Exodus back in China. When I came to America in 2007, I first studied in California; I participated in Bible study with a group named the Church in San Jose (a protestant group). I spent almost every Tuesday noon with this group. I got familiar with lots of American and Chinese Christians, such as Kate Mama, May, Bruce and so on. They were singing songs, sharing stories about their communication with God, stories of how they conquer difficulties in daily life because of their faith; they would also read the Bible together and explained some parts to new students like me. Every Friday, they had a family gathering and invited me to attend. On Sunday, all of them went to Church, sing songs, sharing stories, and someone would give speeches.
I also attended Catholic Churches. In most of these churches, people were happy and kind. Especially they liked to sing songs. I remember the first time when I listened to their hymns. I was so moved that tears came down from my eyes. I liked the way they treated each other as sisters and brothers. In their hearts there were no boundaries among nations because their perspective is that all people are children of God.
They treated each other as Gospel Friends, and they were inclusive of people from mainland China. They were excellent speakers and answered questions like the best of teachers. They deeply believed in their religion and this inspired them to share it with others. In China, people are discouraged from learning religion. The government feels that religion can disrupt the ruling power of the Chinese Communist Party. But my experiences with the Church in San Jose led me to believe that religion is a very basic, universal part of humankind which should not be controlled by the government.
These first religious experiences influenced me a lot because they are vehicles for people to show their love and affection together, in a communal yet so personal way. It is an experience we do not have in China and it is a gain in my life’s education.
I have also gotten some knowledge by learning about Sufi, a branch of Islam I met an American Sufi Master A in Berkley. He was a Catholic before he converted to Sufi and he seemed very enlightened. It was the first time I heard about Sufi. Sufi’s idea that Truth and God is love has inspired me further. Sufi is not just a religion but a way of life, a way that is focused on love as a path towards enlightenment. This power of love makes one learn from who really cares about you; in turn, this power will make you give love and share your good parts with others to become a good teacher. This made a lot of sense to me because the people who have made a positive contribution to humanity and helped it to grow have been people who are enlightened, following a life of love. These are great teachers and masters we know as Moses, Lao Tsu, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, etc. Also, there have been great inventors, artists, and healers, who have been enlightened, because of their love for what they were doing and because of their love to contribute their natural gifts to serve others. Many revolutionaries have affected the world, but many have failed to move societies in a positive direction because of the absence of enlightenment, love, with motives that come from the heart. Many leaders in China have been operating from the head not the heart, although some were indeed trying to help the country. But they failed. Real change must come from changes in people’s hearts. So, if you want to be enlightened and provide help to others, you must live in love. This is what I learned from the Sufi master.


The most important lesson I have received from my life is I realized the power of love. This idea that everyone should care about each other and live in love have influenced me deeply.
My life now is oriented to becoming a humanist, a universalist and a teacher myself. I will be able to transmit ideas, knowledge to enlighten people, to make human life better and add a brick in human civilization. In order to be a good teacher, I will continue learning through my lifetime, at different levels, in my way to enlightenment.

Finished at September 29, 2008
Revise at July 16, 2009





If I Could Return to Your Garden

If I Could Return to Your Garden

I wish to be a flower in your Garden
Small, humble but beautiful
I live and die
Like a flower,
Quietly, quietly,
Without making any noise

I wish to be an animal in your garden,
Little, innocent but happy
I run and dance
Without any worry
Carefully, carefully
Without destroying any creatures

I may be the wind in your Garden
Simple, pure, and free
I fly and sing
Lightly, freely
Without carrying any burden,
But eternally emerging into your endless hug