Camel, lion, baby

Going through the Drafts folder trying to clear out some old posts. Didn’t realise that this has been sitting there for the past 7 years!

During my “recent trip” (2005) to Europe, managed to finish another book by Liu Yong – one of my favourite Chinese authors by the way. I bought this book over 6 months ago, had started reading it soon after, but had not gotten more than halfway through the book. This time, I finished in one sitting.

This book was something of an autobiography. Main thing which impressed me was the description of the development of his philosophy of life. He started off by describing a book he once read when he was still in secondary school. The book mentioned that there existed 3 distinct stages in development of the human psyche:

  1. camel,
  2. lion,
  3. baby.

That is, starting from the hard-working camel, to a brave lion who is willing to strike out on its own if necessary, we then proceed along our life journey back to the contented state after living a full life and having realised the immateriality of things.

Although these were not his ideas originally, Mr Liu has lived by them throughout his life. For example, when he was on top of the world as an award-winning journalist in Taiwan, he bravely gave it up to become a poor postgraduate student to pursue his passion for art in the USA. Subsequently once he had established himself as a noted lecturer in a well-known college, he again decided to take time out for travelling, writing and setting up charity funds. For him, the cycle simply kept on moving.

One central point he made, which I fully agree with, was that the stages should not be skipped. That is, without having experienced the “world”, there is no true baby at the end. The true realisation comes from going through all the stages.

Who do you want to be? Camel? Lion or just giving up and be a baby now?

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