Ping Fang: The Meaning of Life — Giving With Gratitude
Excellence Reporter: Ping, what is the meaning of life?
Ping Fang: This has been the question pondering in my heart since childhood. What is the purpose of being human? Is there any meaning to it?
I was born in the time of the Cultural Revolution in China – the darkest era of People’s Republic of China. As a little child I did not know what was going on, but the helpless pain and grief that people filled the air with deeply hurt my young and fragile soul. Why is there so much cruelty among humanity? It is every single human’s dream to live a healthy and peaceful life, but why can’t we help each other to fulfill this dream? I finished the study of Chinese and Western philosophy, but it didn’t provide satisfying answers to all these questions.
After coming to Europe I encountered many difficulties in life. I felt like I was in a black hole without any escape. I wept tears of grief, sorrow and sadness and drowned in self-pity and frustration. All these negative thoughts and emotions literally and figuratively brought me to a crossroad. One day on the way to pick up my daughter from Kindergarten I was hit by a car. My bike was broken and I was lying on the ground, completely dazed. My body and soul were in pieces and I could have died at that moment, but life saved me. The accident was like a wake-up call and I realized that life must have a meaning. From then on the search for the meaning of life shifted in the new direction of Buddhism and Daoism.
By regularly practicing meditation and Qi Gong, I have learnt that turning the eyes inward is a way to become grown up, a way to transformation, a way to freedom. Just like a butterfly has to go through a painful struggle to break its cocoon, all suffering is the fuel for the fire of life. Day by day I learnt how to clean the inner lens of my eyes. Gradually I started to discover the miracles of life, and perceive its meaning.
Once a Zen Buddhist teacher compared the practice of zazen with making bread. The dough has to be kneaded again and again until it is ready to be baked in the oven to become delicious bread. For human beings it’s the same: it takes time and practice to become a loving kind person who is able to serve others.
A nice parable of long spoons recounts the differences between heaven and hell. In hell, everyone is busy trying to feed themselves with these extraordinarily long spoons. No matter how hard they try, they can’t reach their mouths and consequently they are starving. In heaven, with the same long spoons everyone is enjoying the dinner because they are feeding each other…
Yes, giving with gratitude has become the meaning of my life: sharing what I have learnt and helping others become healthy and happy.
~Ping Fang and her husband Taco van der Mark have a clinic for Traditional Chinese Medicine in The Hague, Netherlands. Ping Shu Yuan – Center for Harmony – offers patients acupuncture, Chinese herbs and a combination of Qi Gong and Zen meditation. Our wish for everyone is to:
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