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Heart-mind: 心 — a philosophical detour

July 7, 2010

We had an optional lecture today by the head of HBA about religion in China. Really interesting stuff, a lot of which I’ve already studied. But it was a great reminder for me to remember the big picture, and to live my life to the fullest. China’s big three “religions” – Confucianism (not really a religion), Daoism, and Buddhism, offer a lot of perspective.

I wanted to blog about 心, or xin (pronounced like “sheen”), which is a beautiful example of why I find the Chinese language so interesting. Xin, if you look it up in the dictionary, translates both to “heart” and to “mind.” In English, it is sometimes translated to “heart-mind.”

I absolutely love this concept. In the West, we are so prone to separate thoughts and feelings into two separate categories. During and after the European Enlightenment, feelings were brushed aside as unimportant interruptions, and rational thought reigned king. Today, this is often still the case.  Economists still consider humans to be totally rational beings.

But how can we really distinguish the heart from the mind? When we speak of the heart, we really mean the mind, as all emotions are governed by the same place that governs our thoughts. As psychologists and microbiologists delve deeper into emotions and what governs, we’re beginning to unravel the mysterious human heart.

We spend so much time categorizing things, but I agree with the Chinese, that heart and mind really are one. When you feel, you think. When you think, you feel. You don’t really think or feel; you think-feel. Think-feel about it. And my thought-feelings, my xin, are the core of my being. And hey, what do you know, xin also  means core. Kind of beautiful, isn’t it?

Also interesting: Confucius taught that we need to focus on the here and now, not some far away heaven, and nurture our relationships with other humans here on earth to the best of our ability. He taught that cultivation of the self and human relationships–cultivation of the self through human relationships–was far more important than social status, material wealth, or reputation. Very important lessons for a girl like me who’s college bubble is about to pop.

And Laozi, father of Daoism, taught that everything is in a constant state of change, flowing along the way of the Dao, and that if we ever resist that change, we will snap. Also a very importatn lesson for a girl like me heading into a totally new life.

Laozi also that to find the path, we cannot seek the path. Or something. I dunno, Daoism is really confusing.

The bottom line is, our Chinese religion and philosophy today reminded me that I should seek fulfillment and companionship, not wealth or achievement, and to keep my sights on what really matters to me, not get distracted by all the little things.  I shouldn’t listen to my brain or my heart, but rather to my xin, to guide me to the path. (The one I can’t look for. Umm…)

Today’s lecture also reminded me how much I love academia sometimes–pure indulgence in thought, wrapping yourself up in it, asking questions seeking not just answers, but diverse perspectives; and with your goal merely to think, to share, to widen your horizons to grow.

Hmm. I can always go to grad school…

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 7, 2010 9:00 pm

    Hey Morgan, again! Two blog comments in one morning! Amazing! But I just had to take the time and have now read your blogs for June and July and am SOOOO grateful you are such a dedicated writer – and SO observant and clever! (Well, I knew that part already, but I’m thrilled I finally got “tuned in” to your schedule so that I now know what you are doing!)

    So many of your comments bring memories flooding back about all the time I’ve spent in Asia – more time in Kuala Lumpur and S’pore and New Zealand than in China, but I’ve had so many similar experiences and questions – but just never wrote them down like you have. “Good on ya!” as they say in NZ!

    For one things, I never realized the ‘priority order’ for the traffic in China before! I SAW it happening, but couldn’t figure why there weren’t more accidents. You are very brave and DO TAKE CARE! While it is relatively intuitive to them, we really had to pay attention!

    There is a resource now I can share with you that could come in very handy when you finish your school. I hope you will be able to work it into your schedule when you can travel.

    It is the school I went to China to teach for. (And Peking University press translated one of the books I co-authored with school owner, Ms. D.C. Cordova into Chinese as well.) While I am just one of the many instructors, they are all good friends of mine. (I teach Self-and-Other-Understanding, Job Profiling, and Team Building because I am their DISC Personality Profiling “Master” and one of their focuses is People and Organization.

    All that as background, follow the links around the site at Oh, they would love you! You first do a short weekend program called “Money & You(r)” and then most graduates choose to go on to the “Business School for Entrepreneurs”. It is held in Chinese, but English-only speaking instructors get translated. SO it would be a great “language practice” for you as well as a wonderful place for you to meet up with an amazing, global network of Entrepreneurs and business people.

    Everyone mentor or partner or major client I now have I have met through this company’s programs. Their bottom line MO is to bring transformation in Education through teaching win/win business principles. Many of the distinctions that you learn in these classes – taught through interactive, experiential games, by the way, are based on principals we learned when R. Buckminster Fuller was on MY faculty in 1980. The games are a great way to learn good business principles and they continue to demonstrate the distinctions Bucky (one of the greatest thinkers of our time) taught us!

    Whew! This is getting to be a very long comment (sorry), but all this came to me as you described this optional Chinese philosophy class you took because the Chinese were RIGHT ON. This is what we also teach – that you must know the business principles, and you have to lead with your heart and passion in order to ADD VALUE in all that you do.

    You are certainly Adding Value to all of us lucky enough to know about your blog and your trip and you always have done that in offering your talents and gifts. (And I know you daddy and I are so proud of all you and the other Mallory children are contributing to the growing Mallory Legacy of our family.)

    Let me know if I can help you in any way and I’ll put it out to my network over there.

    Lots of love,
    Aunt Carol

    PS. I just remembered that the Chinese are so hungry for our classes because they recognize the importance of HEART and RELATIONSHIP that you have also written about here. What’s interesting is that there are often several billionaires attending our Chinese BSE programs because win/win and entrepreneurship isn’t often taught in traditional schools.

    As I said, great networking and business contacts for you! Since D.C. goes over from here for almost all the Chinese programs and always invites me to come too, if you do decide to attend one anytime in the next year or two, I’ll do my best to make time to come back over and join you at your school too!

    (And just so you know, graduates of both programs can re-attend these classes for free anywhere in the world.) Therefore it could be just the beginning of developing your own global network and business contacts for you!)

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