28 October 2011

Learning Chinese helps one to think better

Chinese language is a language with more than 5000 years of history. With its rich culture, the words contain much insights and wisdom. Each Chinese word is made up of picture or pictures. The combine pictures tell you about the meaning of the word. More complex concept is formed by joining the words and hence giving you even more insights.
I have been sharing them on Facebook. But FB does not have a good search function unlike Google+ and what I shared in my FB Status get lost very quickly. So here is a compilation of the words shared. I will continue to update this post when new words are shared. Chinese tells you to see a thing from both sides(Multiple viewpoints) and watch the context. Enjoy.

1. Crisis 危机

We are all well aware of the word Crisis 危机. Crisis in Chinese is made up of Danger and Opportunity. There is an opportunity in every crisis and danger in every opportunity. In a crisis, we learn to see the opportunity. In growth, we learn to see the danger and do risk management.

2. Sensibility or Reasonableness 情理

Now, I like to share another word, Reasonableness or Good Sense 情理.
Two things are needed to make something reasonable or sensible - it is emotion and rationale. Either alone is not enough. It must be rational and emotionally acceptable (or good for the relationship).

This is good advice for business. It is the secret of Apple success and failure of many. Apple products appeal to both the mind and the emotion. Zig Ziglar even said "People don't buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.". But actually, we buy for both - we buy not a product but a wow experience.

It is important for nation building. I think we over-emphasize on the rational mind, the tasks, and the meritocracy to the extent that we ignore the emotions, the feelings of people. We don't understand how to build good relationships with people and even with other nations. That neglect stops us from being better people, more successful people, and a nation that people admire with love.

We must learn to do both well, rational mind and a feeling hearts for good relationship building.

3. Morality or Moral 道德

The third word to share is Morality or Moral. In Chinese, it is 道德.
It is made up of Dao 道 - the Way ( of heaven, God, the universe, the right way). and
De 德 - which is Virtue or Character. Strictly speaking, De is how much one has acquired of the Way (of Righteousness). '德' in old Chinese, is used also as 得 obtain or gain.

Morality has to be defined as two parts -
1. knowing the right WAY and
2. Assimilation(Becoming, Obtaining) of the Way.

Again, either is not enough. Not knowing the right Way means one is not moral. Knowing and not behaving according to the right way is not moral too.

To be a moral person, we must know the Way and become like the Way.

So, the morality of a person is measured as to how much one has acquired of the Way (of righteousness).

If you are a Christian, the way to measure the quality of maturity of a Christian is how much they have become like their Savior Jesus Christ. Rom 8:29 (ESV) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. Christ is the Way!

Hope you can see the power of the Chinese.

4. Life 生命.

Life is a common word. Life in Chinese is 生命.
生 sheng is Birth or Born.
命 ming is Order, Destination, Mission, and Fate for some people.
Hence, Life is not just about being born into this world and mere existence. Life is about living to fulfill a mission or calling.
The purpose of life is not just about living, but living meaningfully. Living with a mission.

Each of us has uniquely created for a mission that only we can fulfill.
By doing the mission we are called, we shall be satisfied. We are given the strengths and talents to do this unique mission.

It also means that we are not to live the calling of other people. When we are trying to be somebody else, while we are not gifted in it, we shall be struggling and we will never be like that someone. Don't waste your life trying to somebody you are not made for.

That does not mean we cannot have role models. We shall have quite a few role models so that we can become the very best that we are called to be.

Hope you like Chinese and become a better person.

5. Remember 记 Remembrance 纪念 or 记忆 Write and Recall
To remember, Chinese uses the word 记 Ji which means to record. We usually use the word 记忆 to refer to the mental storage of past events and things. To remember someone, we use the word 纪念.

The word 'remember' or 'record' 记 is made up for two words 己 I and 言 saying. This means that my saying is the record. Make a record and see if I keep my words! I recalled a western cowboy movie that I watched in my youth. The Red Indian Chief was telling the white Captain something like "white men treaty was recorded down to be forgotten and it was not trustworthy, whereas we recorded them in our hearts to be remembered and kept".

If you use the two words version, 纪念 or 记忆, we can see that remembering is made up of two things:

纪念: 纪 records (in book or tablets) 念 recite it, often in the heart and mind.

记忆: 记 record, write it down 忆: recall it.

To truly memorize things, we need to do two things: write it down and read or say it back!

6. Intellectual Capability /Knowledge 学问
One's intellectual capability or scholarship or knowledge in Chinese is 学问. It is made up of 学 study and 问 ask. Effective learning is about studying (reading or hearing) some article and then asking questions. Asking or Questioning is a key part of learning. Studying without asking is not learning in depth. Greater understanding can only be gain questioning what we have studied. Some simple and good technique to guide us to ask questions is the 5W1H and the Yin-Yang (Bi-polar, Dialectics).

Learning can also be done the other way round, start with a question and then try to find the answers.

Just remember that learning has two parts, studying and asking.

For some, they should be asking more, and for some other, they should be studying more, It takes the two activities to give a better understanding and insight in a particular subject.
   Intellectual Capability = Studying + Questioning
7. Forgive 原谅 Original/Source + True Understanding

Forgive in Chinese is 原谅

原 - the original
谅 - the true understanding. 谅 is made up of 京(Large) 言(Speech) (note Chinese goes from right to left). So whale is a large fish and is written as 鲸. Another meaning of '谅', a large important speech, is trust or integrity.

So forgiveness is actually returning back to the original true understanding or state of trust or integrity.
It is as if the hurtful thing or the lies or betrayal has not happened at all. It is back to a trustworthy state.

Forgiveness is easier when we understand the reason and motivation for the hurtful act.

Forgiveness is also possible when the offending party sincerely and seriously apologizes (Large Speech).

A true apology that seeks forgiveness is about saying in words sincerely and the action to restore the damages back to the original state if it is possible. Many things done are not reversible. It takes the great heart of the offended to impute it as if it did not happen.

So if you say you truly forgive someone, you are saying and treating him as if he did not do the hurtful act to you. At the very least, you can remember the deed but not the hurtful feeling.

The Bible tells us that God's forgiveness is precisely like that - just as if we did not sin!

8. Wisdom 智慧 is Left-Brain Cold Logic and Right Brain Creativity and Warm Feelings
See Wisdom in Chinese includes Both Left & Right Brain...

9. Friends 朋友 

A friend is made up two words:
  • 朋 meaning of the same kind, same group. It is two flesh put together,
  • 友 mutual love, close relationship.
Ancient Chinese literature has a saying, “同门曰朋,同志曰友。”
朋 is the same family (literally, it means the same door) and
友 is the same ambition, goal, beliefs, philosophy.

A friend is someone who shares your values and cares for each other forming a team of oneness.

10. Operate 经营

Operate is made up of two words:
  • 经 the Book, the paths, the ways, the principles
  • 营 the camp, the layout of the army camp. In the old form, it is

    It means to plan, to layout, to organize and to operate.
So to operate well, one must study books to learn the principles and how-to's and then plan and organize well to ensure efficient and effective operations. 先取经后营业。

The layout of the camp tells us much about how to get organized. There are the needs for a fire to keep warm, and for cooking - we need to get our logistics done well. There is the boundary to stand guard for against attack. We need to be vigilant and to expand our boundary. The troops are organized in tents, separation of duties and yet connected. When we specialize we must also communicate to ensure effective co-operation to achieve the shared mission.

If you like to know more about Chinese Wisdom and Philosophy, please see Ancient Chinese Wisdom

11. Upbringing 教养

How do we bring up a child? The Chinese words for Upbringing are 教养.
  • 教 - Teach, train, discipline. This is for the mind and character.
  • 养 - Feed, provide for food and living and safety. This is for the body.
The famous primary school textbook of the older Chinese is 三字经 3-word-text says: 


If you don't train, the character will shift (from good to bad).
The principle for training is to have focus.
Just feeding and not training is the fault of the father.
Training without discipline is the fault of the teacher.

A major portion of the 3-word-text is about how to be a good man. More details can be found in Understanding The Chinese Mindset in One Minute ...

12. Wealth 富贵
“富贵” is frequently translated as wealth, but it is made up of two Chinese words 富 (richness) and 贵 (honor). The correct translation should then be wealth and honor. Another way of looking at it, the truly rich is someone not just with money but also with honor. In an interview in 2007 in PRC, Li Ka Shing said that there were many rich people but fewer people with honor. The truly rich and honorable people are those who have love and give back to society what they have earned. (李嘉诚:富的人很多,但贵的人不多。我认为真正的富贵在于,将自己所赚到的钱有回馈于社会的爱心。)。 So, a person is truly rich when they have both money and honor. Honor is about doing things of love, righteousness, making contributions to society and gaining the respect of others. Money alone without the honor explains the bad behaviors of the rich, and especially of their second generation sons and daughters.

13. Good Luck or Good Fortune 造化
If we take a closer look at the origin term 造化 that stands for what we today use as good fortune or good luck,  we can see that it is made up of two words of Creation 造  and Change or Transform 化.
The original meaning is about the evolution or the change and growth of nature. The fortune or luck you have now is not by accident but according to what you do, the development and learning, that you build on your natural talents or strengths that you are born with.  Our inborn talents and strengths must be developed through education and experience, then we can build a destiny or fortune.

The lesson for us is:
Develop your strengths and outsource your weaknesses to become a champion. 
  1. Relying on your natural strengths without development will not get you far in life.
  2. Focusing on your weaknesses alone, ignoring your strengths, will only get you to be a mediocre average if you succeed.
14 Harmony 和谐

The first Chinese character is 和 which means together peacefully. The components characters are 禾 the rice or wheat group of plants and 口 mouth. It shows that there is rice/wheat for the mouth. Everyone has food to eat, and there need not be any fighting over the food.

The second Chinese character is 谐 which means a right fitting or getting the right fit and with an extended meaning of fun and joy (诙谐, 谐趣). The secret of getting agreement is revealed in the components of the character 諧. They are 言 speech,白 white or plain, 比 compare to be the same resulting in befriending。The correct way to get agreement is then plain truthful talk and sharing the same standards and objectives. 比 is hexagram number 8 of I-Ching signifying the union of friends. Confucius has a saying on this:

  Gentlemen co-operate without ganging up whereas
  Villains gang up and co-operate not.

  The explanation is that gentlemen co-operate to achieve the whole group's benefits whereas villains gang-up to achieve their own sub-groups benefits at the expense of the whole.
 Here then we see the perspective of group and sub-groups.

  There is another saying of Confucius on harmony:

  Gentlemen harmonize though they are different whereas
  Villains are alike, yet they harmonize not.

  This clearly shows that harmony does not need uniformity or sameness. What is needed is the shared and committed mission with each different part contributes its strength to the achievement of the common mission. Same attributes without shared objective will lead to infighting and destruction. Synergy comes not from sameness but from the harmony of diversity.

14b 和平

The Chinese words for peace, of oneself, is 平安, with others and the world is 和平.

Let's take the Peace for oneself. 平安
平 is, as explained in an earlier post, is the "all clear" signal of a warning system. There is no danger. All is well.
But lack of danger is only a negative side of a concept. What about the positive side, having something, like joy in peace?
Hence, the Chinese added 安 to 平, 平安 to make it complete.
安 is 宀,新房 new home for the(女,新娘)bride.
Man having a wife in his home make his life complete.
Satisfied and no longer running or fooling around.

World Peace is the words 和平
和 is mouth blowing a wheat stem or pipe.
It represents the harmony of different sounds to make a lovely tune.
Peace begins with the harmony of differences, of languages, races, religions, and of people even within the same family!

Hebrew is a language like Chinese. It is made up of pictures, each letter of an alphabet is actually a picture or icon.

The Hebrew word for Peace is Shalom, which is made up 4 icons:
1 shin "teeth/eat/consume"
2 lamed "shepherd's staff, control, toward, authority"
3 vav "peg, nail, join together, attach
4 mem "water, also represent chaos"

So a positive interpretation for peace is enjoying the shepherd's care and supplies of water (which can be extended to means all the needs for a living). So, Ps 23v1 The Lord is my shepherd and I have no lack. No lack is Complete.

If you use the image of water in a negative way like the roaring waves, then it represents confusion. So peace is about consuming the authority that brings the chaos. i.e. Peace is about lack of chaos.

So, peace has the same meaning in both Chinese and Hebrew.

1. Lack of chaos, danger.
2. Make complete with having a wife or a shepherd to care for us.

Enjoy the wonders of your languages.

15 Integrity 诚 - 誠

Integrity is 诚 in simplified form, or in the traditional form, is 誠 which is made up of 言 speech and 成 accomplishment. Integrity is the accomplishment of what we say. It is fulfilling the promises that we make. It is making sure that our talk and our walk is the same.

16 Business 生意

Doing business in Chinese is called 做生意 or 做 Do 生 Life/Grow 意 Intention/Wish with an implied meaning of blossoming life and vitality. So before you start any business, you must first have an intention or vision and the know-how to grow and fulfill your vision. You must also do with passion and vitality. If you are not working with passion, then perhaps you can reexamine your intention and vision of your life and then see if there be any mismatch between what you are doing and what you wish. You need to get both to aligned so that you can really grow in what you really want in life.

17 Buddhism 佛教 The Religion of Buddha

The essence of Buddhism is captured in a few Chinese Words. When a person wants to become a monk, the Chinese words used to describe the process is called 出家 which means leaving his family.

A monk is Chinese is 僧 which is made up of 曾(have been, previously) and 人 (man).

If the monk upgrades himself well he can become a Buddha 佛 which is made up of 弗(not) and 人(man).

Buddhism is then about leaving the attachment to the world, especially of family, and slowly rid oneself of the human desires to becoming a have-been-man, and then eventually attending nirvana of not being a man. egolessness, but Buddha.

18 The word that combines both Know and Do is:
The Chinese Word for Know and Do

19 Relationship 关系

"Relationship" in Chinese is made up of two words 关系:

关 :means close. The original word refers to the horizontal bar that close and secured the doors tightly. Since it means closing, it is used to represent the immigration or point of entry like 关口.

系:means to tie up, to connect, to fasten.

So, for building good relationships, we need first to connect and tie up and also to close and shut out other interferences. Relationships are about filtering out and connecting closely.

20 Change 变

The Chinese Newspaper Word for the year 2016 is "变", Change.

The traditional word form is 變.
Its top part is made of "small talk small", which is from '戀', the love between man and woman. The bottom part is 'pu', which means to hit. Hence, '变' is actually the betrayal of love-bond.

The 'pu' part can be found in 教 to teach, 牧 to shepherd, 改 to correct, etc. It all involves the use of some form of beating.

21 颠 dian.

It has two meanings -
1 top, summit
2 inverted, fall down.

Kind of ridiculous, one word with two completely opposite meaning isn't it?

But that is typical Chinese Yin-Yang Cyclical change. What goes up must come down. At the very bottom, the only way left is to go up. If you are in your very best time, please be careful so to avoid 乐极生悲 too happy leads to sorrow! In Yi Ching saying, 窮則變,變則通,通則久 poverty leads to change, change leads to flow, flow leads to long-lasting. But, a long period without any change will bring back poverty.

Back to 颠. We can tell whether it is top or inverted by the associating words. such as 巅峰 summit or 颠倒 inverted, 颠覆 overturn.

The word components are real and page.
But Chinese writes from right to left, so real-page was in the wrong inverted order.

Some say the right-hand side part, the face, was actually an inverted head 首 - the horns of the head went to the bottom to become legs as 頁 so it is really upside-down now.

Now, what does 癫 mean, knowing that sickness is 病?

Yes. It means mad.

Hope you like Chinese words.
(Mandarin is easy to pick up for conversation because it has no grammar, but difficult in writing and reading).

22 福 Blessing


23 变化 Change

It is typical for Chinese to use two words to represent a complete concept.  We have 1 Crisis 危机 as the first concept in this post. Here we discuss “change”. Change is 变. But what changed? So we have changed in color 变色, change in tone 变调, change in movement 变动, etc. But the more powerful concept about Change is 变化 - 变 as change and 化 transformed. As the external situation changes, we transform ourselves, make improvements, to adapt to the changes. We come out stronger and grow up. We don't let the change defeat us but like the change makes us better. We are transformed.

24 舒  Relax, Comfort, Smooth Out

The word for ease and comfort is 舒. It is made up of two words, 舍 to give up, let go, reject and 予 to give, grant, bestow. Hence, if you want to live at ease, then you must know how to let go (of past hurts, pains, revenge, bitterness...) and to give to bless others.  Pursuing your own happiness makes you unhappy whereas making people happy makes you happy. That is known as the paradox of happiness. So to be happy, remember this word 舒(shu), letting go, forgive more, and live generously.

25 真 Truth or Reality

See the picture below which has the older form of the word.
Truth is lifting up the Straight or Right. 
Straight is transforming one concept by seeing the hidden or the inside of the heart.
No photo description available.

26 事情 Thing, Issue, the Matter

How should we do things or resolve the matter?
The Chinese words 事情 show us how.
It is made up of 事 shi, the thing, the issue, the facts and
情 the emotions, the relationship.

So to resolve any problem, we have to address the two aspects for the hard facts and the soft emotions or people involved.  Many of us just focus on the facts and often hurt the feelings of the people involved and we are left wondering why no one praises us for solving the problem.

Lim Liat (c) 2011-2019


Cadi said...

This is fascinating. I appreciate it so much and am going to share the link on Facebook. Thank you for that insight.

Cadi said...

This is fascinating. I appreciate it so much and am going to share the link on Facebook. Thank you for that insight.