(This is the second time I'm trying to send this message ... the first time it didn't get through.)
I am glad to receive news from you! I sent you a postcard a while back ... not sure whether or not you received it. It sounds like you have been very busy all this time. I am also sorry to hear about your prolongued illness during (and after?) the examination period. Reading about it reminds me of my time in college. I always seemed to be getting sick, despite living in comfortable college dormitories and having huge meals every lunch and dinner (have I described my cafeteria to you? It was pretty amazing, by Chinese standards!). Without our parents to look after us and chastise us when we don't take care of our health, it's easy to get sick, I know!
Hope you have the time and patience to read this, 'cause it's gonna be a long one!!! (Can you print it out and take it home???)
I am currently in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. We've been moving more slowly these days ... I think it's about time to return home to my parents, whom I miss greatly. Some interesting things have happened in travel, but none so shocking they demand to be voiced now. Maybe I am just feeling relaxed here in front of the computer here, finally! I can keep in touch with my friends again!
I think I can understand how you feel about previous "failures", such as your College Entrance Exam results. I will try to offer a perspective that is different from the popular Chinese one, and I hope it is palatable to you. In the US all students who want to go to esteemed colleges or universities must take standardized exams. The most well known exam is the SAT - "Scholastic Achievement Test". What you might find surprising is that the sole three subjects on the exam are Mathematics, English Language, and Writing. (There was no Writing component when I took the exam more than six years ago; I took a separate SAT II Writing exam, as well as tests for Math, Chemistry, and Biology.) I think Chinese students would perform exceedingly well on the SAT, especially the Mathematics section which consists of word problems, which I think are emphasized in Chinese education. The highest mark for the SAT is 1600. Many schools advertise a kind of "threshold" SAT score for their students; at the best schools average SAT scores are upwards of 1400.
But the SAT is not a fair exam. Many very intelligent people and good students score surprisingly poorly. And those who score very well are not necessarily the best students. Evidence of this reality can be found by looking in the bookstore for SAT Preparation, or "test prep", books. Instead of advising on the material content of the tests, they divulge "test taking strategies" - the most important of which is how to GUESS the right answer in multiple choice sections. Much of one's success depends on how familiar one is with the setup of the exam, and how well one can use the little "tricks and tips" outlined in such books to achieve a higher score.
Of course, I don't think it is easy to create a "fair" test - impossible, really. (Which makes me challenge the exam-based assessment paradigm.) Surely the College Entrance Exam you took was not fair. At least the name is appropriate - the exam doesn't purport to assess your "scholastic achievement"; it clearly is just a means for colleges and universities in China to pick the students they want. The test is not for YOU, it's for THEM. Having had you as a student, one of the most consciencious ever, and knowing how hard you work, I can say this: whatever result you attained on the exam, it was not an accurate indicator of your ability as a student or your suitability to enter a good school. Anyone who thinks your "life is "over" simply the exam didn't bear out your strengths is a simpleton. I can see very clearly that the peers of your parents would say and (worse) allude to such harsh predictions about your future. But let me contradict them. Let me just say that I think your future is bright!
What I'm about to write goes along with other ideas I've expressed to you in past emails. You live for yourself. Although what other people say and hint about you can hurt, in the end it is you, and you alone who decides whether you have succeeded or failed. Maybe I should give an outstanding example: Jesus. Two thousand years ago, his teachings seemed ridiculous and dangerous to all the people in power, all the people who "knew what was right". Other religious leaders constantly criticized and abused him. As the story goes, it was these very "religious" men who finally condemned him to the Roman official, who had no choice but to put him to death. At the time, if you asked anyone who wasn't his follower - by far the majority of people - they would have told you Jesus was a joke. He failed more than anyone else. Not only did he spend his life trying to convince other people of absurd ideas (instead of practicing the "correct" practices), he sacrificed his life in a meaningless way.
But now, if you ask people about Jesus, even non-Christians, you will find that most people agree - Jesus was an amazing man, exceedingly influential and in some sense ahead of his time. Two thousand years later, people not only remember him; they worship him!
Love your parents, as I know you do. Make them happy, as I know you do. But do not let the other people whispering hurtful things to their ears determine how you feel about yourself, and what you do.
I would say, don't think about it this way. This desire is a reaction to the negativism of ugly people. The people who look down upon you ... they ENJOY looking down upon other people. It makes them feel better. Nothing you do will make them feel ashamed, because they see nothing wrong with looking down upon others. Even if you succeed according to their standards and return home proudly, they won't even mention it ... because they were secretly hoping you would fail. Instead, they will simply turn their attention to another "failure" in town to beat into the ground. I hate people like that. Don't listen to their lies. You should listen to people who really know you, and appreciate your many talents. Sure, you can "show" yourself in several limited ways. But you never need to "show" yourself to your friends, because they like you for your unique qualities, for your human qualities. And push on toward your dreams with them behind you all the way.
I'd like to write about something else, something that seems rather funny to me!
Are you sure?
I'm kidding ... but you do you know that you are absolutely WRONG?
You are almost certainly thinking of the "Falun Gong" movement, characterized by the Chinese government as a "religious cult", headed by Li Hongzhi. This movement (as far as I can see) has nothing at all to do with Osho. There's no connection. It's as simple as that. Now, I am not even sure that Osho's books are banned in China ... this is something that I read on the internet, and as we all know internet sources can have mistakes (and sometimes are outright fabrications).
I don't know much about Falun Gong. But I can say with some certainty ... that what you know about Falun Gong ... that is, what you've learned from the news media, what you've been told by people who "know what is right" ... is either misleading or simply false. Becoming interested after you made the above comment, I've just now found some information on Falun Gong, and I am sending it to you to read if you are interested, and if you have time. Why? I want you to make up your own mind about Falun Gong. If you do decide to read it, I would suggest that you maintain an open mind. I've tried to choose unbiased accounts. I have referenced three texts in this email:
This is an entry from an online encyclopedia project called Wikipedia (does Wiki sound familiar???). Here are some excerpts (small bits from the text):
Specifically, Falun Gong teaches a form of conservative morality. The act of homosexuality is considered blasphemy, and the taking of any life is forbidden (although Falun Gong does not explicitly require its practitioners to become vegetarians). ... Some observers believe that Falun Gong has gained such popularity because it fills a void of morality within the increasingly materialistic Chinese society. ... During the first years of the introduction of Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi was granted several awards by Chinese governmental organisations to encourage him to continue promoting what was then considered a wholesome practice. From 1992 to 1994 he lectured regularly all over the country in important Chinese cities before large audiences. The practice was then further spread widely in mainland China for 7 years mainly by word of mouth and through the internet. In July 1999 the government decided to put a stop to its popularity and the practice of Falun Gong has been persecuted in mainland China ever since. ... The Tiananmen Square Self-Immolation Incident ... Falun Gong practitioners strongly denied that the persons could have been actual Falun Gong practitioners, since killing, especially in the form of suicide, is strictly forbidden by the principles of Falun Gong. ... According to the Falun Dafa Information Center (FDI), there are, as of 2005, 1238 verified cases of death of Falun Gong practitioners in mainland China, from allegations of torture and police brutality.
This is an older news article from the Hong Kong Standard. The reporting appears very objective, centering on facts only.
This is a description of Falun Gong from the skeptic's dictionary. The owner of skepdic.com is a "hardened skeptic", which implies that he does not believe in the claims of religious or supernatural origin. Here are two excerpts:
Li has emphasized an anti-scientific approach to disease and medicine. He says disease is "is a black energy mass" that he can dissipate with his powers. Those who use medicine for their illnesses lack faith in falun gong. True believers don't need medicine. They understand that disease exists in some other space beyond physical space and that only those with "supernormal capabilities" can truly heal. True healing involves "cultivation energies...in the form of light with very tiny particles in great density." He claims that he does not tell people not to use medicine, but that he has cured thousands of terminally ill people. He also claims that he advises terminally ill and mentally ill people not to practice falun gong. The former are too focused on their illness and the latter are not clear-minded enough to practice properly. ... It is anti-science, anti-medical establishment, and anti-materialism; thus, falun gong is attractive to many people who are fed up with the world as it is and their position in it.
There are many important points to glean from the texts; I will leave the thinking to you. I would like to just raise three issues though. First: there is much controversy over the link between the woman who set herself on fire in Tiananmen square and Falun Gong. Was she a practitioner of Falun Gong, or not? Of course, the state owned Chinese media (yes, this means CCTV too) never even raise this question. Second, why do Chinese people and the Chinese government have such strong reactions to every mention of "Falun Gong"? Why did the government first award, then suddenly ban the practice? It is supposed to be a peaceful, apolitical, and non-violent practice. I suspect the reason is that the government sees the movement as a threat to its power. Perhaps this is difficult to observe while in China ... but believe me, Tracy, the media in China is very strictly controlled by the Chinese government. They can say anything they want about individuals or group which they feel threaten their power. Finally, I couldn't help notice the comment about a "void of morality" existing in contemporary Chinese society. It immediately reminded me of one of my previous letters to you, in which I wrote about the lack of an "individual morality" in China.
To conclude on this, I want to emphasize that I'm not a believer of Falun Gong!!! I noticed reading through the Wikipedia entry that Falun Gong teaches that homosexuality is "blasphemy", something like a "sin". Of course I disagree with this teaching! I don't care to really learn more about the philosophical details of Falun Gong either; you might say I'm just not that interested. And I'm not trying to convince you of anything ... well, just one thing. To trust your own judgment, not just what other people say.
Whew! Enough about that!
I hope if nothing else, now you know that Osho and Falun Gong are unconnected! :) I am only really interested in Osho.
Osho the man, by the way, passed away in 1990. (Li Hongzhi on the other hand is still very much alive.)
Has your new semester started yet? I must have just started. How are you finding your classes? Are you still receiving English instruction? Your language skills must be progressing further than ever; I will really look forward to talking to you when I visit ... maybe I will be the one at a loss for words! I wish you luck in all your studies, and don't forget you can still consult me when you have any problems! But I won't promise I can solve them, haha! Seriously, though, be sure to take good care of your health this time. You probably shouldn't follow my example as a teacher ... while in Xiangtan I wasn't very good at taking care of my own health either. Maybe I should listen to the advice I am dispensing to you!
Best of Luck & Take Care, Bino