Yin Yang and its significance…………

 "The Joy Luck Club"
Yin Yang

The chapter “The Moon Lady” is about the childhood story of Ying-Ying St. Clair. This story is based on the Moon Festival. This festival has played a substantial role in Ying-Ying’s life. She learns that her wish came true which she had wished for unknowingly on that day. The origin of the festival had been explained which introduced the symbol “Yin /Yang”. According to Chinese myth, ‘Yin’ represents female which is related to darkness and passivity and is compared to the moon, winter and earth. On the other hand, ‘Yang’ is the bright part of the symbol which represents male. It is related to brightness and activeness and is compared to the sun, summer and heaven.

I have a different interpretation of the symbol of Yin/Yang. According to what I know, the symbol represents the different natures of human beings. In the symbol, there are two person each carrying the same traits but different in quantity. The white part with a dark spot on it which is ‘Yin’ represents a person with pure heart and serenity. However, the black spot in his part represents the cruelty and hatred that’s within the person. On the other hand, the next half of the symbol which is dark and has a bright spot on it, Yang, represents another person. It is a person who is very cruel and rude. Nonetheless, his bright part represents peace and harmony. This explains that though the person is extremely rude and cruel, there exists some purity. In conclusion, all human beings are provided with all the traits that God has created, the only difference is the quantity which directs one’s life and presents him to the world. It is the person who uses the trait; it depends on each person to utilize more of his or her brightness or darkness.

Comparing the two meanings, what I have come up with is that the darkness, Yin, is all about something negative or dependency as it relies on light for its brightness. On the other hand, the bright part which is Yang is the positive and pleasant part of life and it is independent. Thus, we can decide whether to nourish our brighter part or the darker one.

Which part of the symbol do you want to be?

Do you have any other meanings related to the symbol?

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Is it ok to lie?

All of us have been taught to be truthful since our childhood. We learnt that we should not tell lies, not only from our parents but also through our religion as well as our teachers. I also grew up accepting the belief that the one who tells a lie is a sinner. In the novel, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, we read about Lindo Jong, who became successful in escaping from her husband’s house by the help of a lie. I am going to talk about how a lie affected the life of Lindo Jong as well as my own experience.
In the chapter, “The Red Candle”, we read how Lindo Jong struggled with her marriage. As she was not pleased with her married life, she told a lie as if it were the truth. She was so shrewd that she used the beliefs of her mother-in-law as a weakness. She told her that the ancestors were not happy with the marriage of her son and also included omens like a mole on her husband’s shoulder, her missing tooth, a candle, and the pregnant girl as curses from the ancestors. Her mother-in-law believed her for she was conservative minded. Therefore, she then was set free from the Huangs and was able to lead her own life.
When I read it, I thought she might have prepared a lot before making the plan. Through her, we learn that one must have creative mind to lie. In other words, it is creative to lie because you need to make others believe your untrue words as the truth.
In my opinion, it is “ok” to lie. Though I’ve always learned to speak the truth, I never trusted that there are any people who haven’t lied even once in their life time. When I was a child, there was my little cousin whose mother had died. All people along with my mother used to tell him that his mother had gone to visit God whenever he asked about her. As a child, I was confused about why my mother lied to him. When I asked my mother about it, she told me that it is ok to lie if it doesn’t cause harm to others. That was the day when I first learned that I can lie sometimes. Now as a grown-up girl, I know the effects of lying. I now think twice about the consequences that I may have to face before lying. I have lied thousands of times. I may have been disloyal to others, but I haven’t harmed anyone. Therefore, through Lindo’s and my experience, I think it’s ok to lie.

Significance of “self-Knowledge”

The poem “self-knowledge” by Khalil Zibran gave me a new inspiration to develop real knowledge in our soul. When I understood the poem I could realize the power of self-knowledge. The best time to enrich self-knowledge is youth. From my point of view, I think that power, in the true sense of the term lies in self-knowledge. Self-knowledge can be evaluated in mental and social terms. At the time of youth, we have an extreme thirst for self-knowledge. We generally think that power belongs to the strength. When two wrestlers fight, we think that the stronger will win. And in a battle the country with the larger army expects that it will be victorious. But strength without self-knowledge is blind. A blind giant cannot cope with a man who has sharp eyes. Self-knowledge is the secret of success in all fields. In ancient times, men had no knowledge of nature and they thought that the trees and the hills were inhabited by spirits and fairies. But along with the passing of days many unknown things were invented by the attempt of their self-knowledge.

Self-knowledge develops the conscience by which man can judge good or bad and right or wrong. It helps a man to guide himself in a proper way and cultivate all the virtues to become a complete man. Actually, it is related to humanity, morality. It is such a rational power that it grows naturally in human behavior which cannot ignore logic and reason. But nowadays moral erosion is increasing. We are losing the invaluable virtue of morality lack of self-knowledge Most of the people prefer riches but not the knowledge. Our moral character is getting destroyed.

If we do not gain self-knowledge from our childhood, we shall fail in every aspect of life. We will have to open the door of mind. If we do not allow ourselves to know the false, we will not be able to have the taste of truth. In the world, there are many bad events but we have to choose the good one among bad. It is self-knowledge.

Response to “The Way We Age Now”

What would happen to ourselves when we reach at the last stage of our life? I saw many older people including at their elderly age and perceived that that age maybe the rude part of one’s whole life. Because then our body no longer support ourselves as they do before. It is natural process that we will lose our teeth, have gray touch in our hair, and lose the strength of our body. If we think about our aging process then it seems very strange to us how we become older and have gradual change in our body and mind simultaneously which lead us to our last stage in our lives. I can remember my grandmother who was died at her 64 age. She was turned weaker physically because of having so many problems like high blood-pressure, severe body aching, muscle and backbone pain by this age. It was so tough for her to cope up with this age because she was afraid of death which made him mentally weak as it affected her physical condition. When I read this article written by Atul Gawande about the process of our aging and the significance of geriatrics then I realized that we should take care of our elderly people in order to increase their confidence about their age and manage them to confront their age which comes naturally but creates lots of sufferings in both physically and mentally. We can do this with the help of geriatricians.

Different types of diseases attack our elder adults and increase their sufferings because their bodies begin to lose the strength gradually with the time which are working and supporting them in their whole life restlessly. For example, we often tired doing lots of work day by day. Then we sometimes give ourselves a break to recharge and upgrade our energy level. Similarly, our bodies are like a machine which work and work and gradually tired and begin to give up their tasks. It is a natural process which we all face once if we will alive. It is geriatrics, a specialized field for supporting elderly people, which is beneficial for them to heal their sufferings. Geriatricians are specialized for taking care of elderly people and focus their needs while passing their aging process. According to this article, there is a surprising fact that geriatrics is a dying field since most of the medical school students are not interested to take geriatrics as their field of working. I would like to agree with the theme of this article from this point of view that we need more geriatricians to support our elderly people as if they don’t feel upset and capable to enjoy their lives till their last breathe.

The Choice

The second chapter of “The Joy Luck Club” relates the story of An-Mei and her relationship with her mother. In this chapter, An-Mei recalls the memory of the day her mother came back to take her children away with herself, and that how the hot soup spilled on her neck and left a scar on her. An-Mei’s mother resembles Chinese women who have to remain loyal to their husband, even after his death. These women do not have the right to independently decide about their future. Women are considered the property of the in-laws family that belongs to them forever. Keeping the reputation of their own family and their in-laws’ family is not the only reason that these women cannot easily leave their in-laws and decide for their future themselves. As their children also belong to the in-laws, most of these women are threatened to be deprived of seeing their children if they remarry.

Nowadays, this situation might not be applicable in many parts of China. However, in my country, Afghanistan, unfortunately this case is still common in both rural and urban areas. Lots of women who have lost their husbands during the 30 years of war or due to other reasons are supposed to live with their husbands’ family, to be able to live with their children. In many cases, they are even forced to marry their brother in-laws in order to be restrained from marrying other strangers.

My aunt, my mother’s younger sister, is one of those women who was deprived of seeing her son after she accepted to marry another man. Her husband had left her and traveled to another country to find a job but never returned back and was never heard of. My aunt waited for his husband for more than eight years, but she gave up when somebody told her he had heard her husband had died. She was still young and wanted to live for herself and marry another man; however, her father in-law separated her son from her. She could only live with her son if she had married her brother in-law. My aunt didn’t love her brother in-law. Actually, she hated him. She had two options: living with her son and baring a disgusting life with her brother in-law, or thinking of other marriage proposal she received and living forever without her son. People may think she was a stone-heart mother, but she chose the second option. She hoped that she could get her son back one day, but after twenty years they live far away from each other in different countries. Sometimes, they talk to each other through phone. Thanks to Alexander Graham Bell; at least she can hear her son’s voice.

Similarities to my tradition

After I read the chapter, “The Red Candle” in the novel The Joy Luck Club, one thing immediately struck my mind was the gender discrimination which strongly prevailed in the 1930’s Chinese tradition. According to the story, Chinese women are given a very low status and position; they are treated ruthlessly. Hence, I thought to compare the Chinese tradition with that of my Nepali tradition and analyze if that is true in my culture too.

Lindo Jong, one of the narrators of the story, was only two years old when her marriage was arranged with a boy who was one year younger than her. Since then, she became a burden for her family and had to face a lot of reprimands from her mother. Even after her marriage, she had to do all household chores and endeavor to make her in-laws happy. Moreover, she was coerced to become pregnant soon and give birth to a descendent to the family.

In addition, I was astonished to learn about the red candle ritual during the marriage of a Chinese couple. A candle is lit at both of its ends in the name of the bride and groom. Then, it is kept burning for the whole night until it has burned completely. This tradition seems to be surprising because if the candle is burned successfully, then the marriage is considered to be long-lasting. As a result, particularly women are not allowed to remarry even if their husband dies. Hence, this tradition indirectly promotes gender disparity. If the women get married to another husband, then they end up becoming a concubine, a mistress whose life is full of hatred and humiliation. However, the man is free to marry as many times as he wishes and have concubines for his satisfaction and needs. This fact really made me indignant about the custom. If men are allowed to keep concubines, then why are women not allowed to have men as their concubines?

Now, talking about my tradition, it has some similarities with the Chinese tradition. In the rural parts of Nepal, women are still considered to be commodities. They are married in their early age and are confined to do tedious household work. They are supposed to comply with their husband’s decisions and are harassed by their in-laws if they are late to conceive. Furthermore, in most communities, polygamy is quite common. Men are allowed to have as many wives as they desire. However, a widow-marriage is highly discouraged. A widow has to face abasement and embarrassment in society if she marries again. Nevertheless, these old beliefs are being eradicated with the passage of time and people are becoming more concerned in eliminating gender discrimination.

These were some similarities which I found between the two traditions. Is it similar in your cases too?

Lindo Jong-her reasion and passion

Which one you choose: reason or passion?

“And let it [your soul] direct your passion with reason” is one of the morals in the poem On Reason and Passion written by Khalil Gibran. As soon as I finish it, the image of Lindo Jong, a character of the novel The Joy Luck Club, came to my mind. I think she is a very good example for what Gibran mentioned. Indeed, Lindo sacrificed herself to keep her family’s reputation. Although she didn’t have any attachment with the boy she was going to marry, she still accepted her destiny. After she came to her husband’s house, she learned to be a good wife and a pious daughter-in-law. She was always careful with her behaviors to avoid her family’s disrepute. Even when she tended to escape, she also thought about her parents. I can tell you this is her reason. First, she just followed the engagement because she was so young that she only knew to obey her parents. As she was old enough to clarify her reason and passion, they were like a competition between two sides of her soul. She wanted to get out of the house; on the other hand, she couldn’t break her parents’ promise. As the poet compared, she was “held at the standstill in mid-sea.” Since both of these elements of her soul were considered to be equally valuable, she wasn’t able to underestimate one and heighten the other. Therefore, she endeavored to find out a good solution to fulfill them. Then, as long as the time elapsed, she let her reason to control herself from the selfish decision. She, and only she, would become a “matchmaker” by and for herself. As you knew, she won. Not only could she initiate her new life, but also her family’s disgrace was sustained. A victory perfectly demonstrated the advice of Gibran.

Have you ever experienced such a difficult situation that you cannot make your decision? Did you comply with others’ arrangements, or did you prefer your desires to your beloved people’s benefits? According to the poem, you should consider both the elements of your soul as your “loved guests in your house;” you should balance them. Neither ridiculously pursuing your wishes to lessen your assessment nor insisted your reason to give up your desire is not satisfactory. Let’s learn from Lindo Jong: “let it direct your passion with reason.”

Thu Nguyen

My Response to ” The Way We Are Age Now”

People who are young are capable to do everything. They can do hard work and are able to struggle with all difficulties, but when people gradually become old, they lose their capability to do hard work. They also lose their power and dominating others become a memory for them. They become dependent on their younger for doing most of the daily chores and they are also economically dependent on them. “They Way We Age Now” is the article by Atul Gawande where he wrote about ageing and how a healthy young man gradually becomes an old man. He described about the physical; and mental changes if a person when he or she becomes an old person. When I was reading this article I reminisced about my grandmother’s story about her young age. When I was seven or eight years old, I asked her why she had not teeth and why she could not chew like us. She used to smile to hear such kind of question from me and told that when she was young she could break a betel nut by her teeth. I became surprised then. One day, I asked her why she could not sew my tops when it torn. She replied me that she could not see well. I thought that she was lying, because I could see everything and I wondered why she could not. Then she told about herself that when she was young, she used to sew “ Nakshi Katha” where she sew various colorful designs. I also used to ask her why she did not play with me. I was the only child of my parents then and my grandmother was the only companion of me. So it made me sad when she did not agree to play with me. Then she used to start to tell her story that then she could not play because her bones were very weak but when she was young she used to race with her friends and always she was the winner. Mr. Gawande also focused these things in his article that it’s people’s destiny to become old and lose their power.

Old people are the people who once ruled at their young age. Because of aging, they become powerless, but we should never neglect them and should try to assist them as we who are young now will be old one day.

My Response to “The Way We Age Now”

            “The Way We Age Now,” which was written by Atul Gawande, gives us an image that what a person will be when he or she becomes old from the view of biology. In addition, Gawande has written several pages to tell two stories about two old people – Jean Gavrilles and Felix Silverstone, from which we can see the significance of geriatricians.

            I know there is a fact that we can’t prevent growing, so we can’t refuse to become old even though there have been many people who try to find out the secret of immortality. We all follow the way that we age as what Gawande described in the essay. However, with the development of technology, more medicine has been produced to care for people’s heath. Moreover, more people can access to medical care with the development of their living levels. Hence, people’s life spans have been expanded, to some extent. In this condition, people can live longer, but they still can’t avoid the suffering of teeth loosing or high blood pressure or other problems. For example, in the cases of Jean and Felix, both of them are around 85 years old, which shows that their life spans are great. Nevertheless, they have to face the decline of their bodies and mind. As a consequence, people start to think how to make the old live easier. In other words, people manage to avert some worst effects that the old would suffer. In the story of Jean, I learned that Jean’s life became better after she took the plans given by Bludau who was a geriatrician. Similarly, Felix, who himself was a geriatrician, could manage his life very well though he was very old. (He lived independently, cared for his disabled wife, and continued his research). I know both of them started the care of themselves from the small things of their lives, such as what to eat, how to eat and so on. On the other hand, not all people have this kind of knowledge; thus, the demand for geriatricians becomes larger and larger.

            Although immortality is a dream that most people have, living easier is also a thing that people wish for when they are old. In my opinion, when people search some ways to expand life spans, they should pay attention to how to live better as well, which I think is more practical in our lives. Therefore, I hope there will be more geriatricians, and there will be more people can suffer less and enjoy more during the last period of their lives. “The night is lovely, isn’t it?” maybe more people can say that.

Gender

Gender was, is, and still will be a topic that is often talked about. It doesn’t matter in which era you live in people “do gender” no matter what. We read a lot of books, articles, and news about “doing gender”. Well not exactly, but somehow we know how it is interpreted in magazines, books, and news. “Doing gender” is simply not right, how can people have this terrible idea to segregate jobs or work appropriate for women or men. I want to scream at all those people who still consider women to be the weakest link. They are not. I am not. My girlfriends are not. My lady teachers are not. They are all not weak. “ You are a girl, you are not supposed to run like all those boys,” “You are not supposed to eat like that,” “ You are not supposed to sit like that.” This and that, when will it ever end? No matter how educated people are, “doing gender” is one thing that will not get eliminated even in the near future.

Was there a time in your life when you were a victim of gender? No? Yes? Well for me, there was. I am not quite sure whether it was a joke or serious thing, I was thirteen and a friend of my friend’s asked me this and I quote, “Hey Ozz, are you wearing baggy pants. That’s totally boy’s thing?” Just because boys wear “baggy” pants a lot doesn’t mean girls can’t wear them. So I want to wear baggy pants and stop wearing skinny jeans for a while, that doesn’t mean I become a boy. A baggy pant by the way during that time was at its zenith. I wasn’t the quiet one either, I snapped back at him, I said,” I ain’t got no rules, I like wearing what I want and get used to it because you’ll be seeing more of this.” That was some “doing gender,” huh!

I want to share something that I observed from the book we are reading, The Joy Luck Club. In the fourth chapter, “The Moon Lady,” Ying-Ying’s Amah tells her that a girl does not ask, but only pay attention. So what are girls supposed to ask? And in another situation when Ying-Ying was chasing dragonflies, her Amah says, “A boy can run and chase dragonflies, because that is his nature, but a girl should stand still.” A girl is not even allowed to chase a dragonfly. In the past, men were allowed to have mistresses, they can re-marry and it has been happening in almost every country. Women were not allowed to do anything and it is still happening at the present.

It will go on and on. There will be no end to it. We humans are so feeble, we believe what we see and do, we never look for the essential part which is “let’s not do gender.” “Doing gender” is not something to laugh about; it is something to be stopped. We must refrain ourselves from “doing gender.”