In 1977 I was a thirty-year-old tenured professor, comfortably settled into my life—teaching psychology and supervising research at an elite private American university. Asia was “the Orient,” a faraway place overflowing with ancient traditions and largely untouched by Western TV and media. And yet, mysteriously, Asia called to me, speaking to me in ways nothing else did.
I needed to get there. So I resigned from my university position and, almost overnight, dropped into another world, embarking on an adventure that continues to unfold today. As few signs were transliterated from Chinese characters into Roman letters, I had to learn to read basic Chinese quickly so I could find the women’s restroom, get on the right train and off at the right station, and buy more than just items I recognized like vegetables, eggs, and beer.
I kept reading, kept learning, and before long fell in love with the etymology of Chinese characters and the elegance of Chinese calligraphy. Everywhere I traveled in those years in Asia—China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Laos—I sought out the national art museums and spent hours in the rooms dedicated to Chinese calligraphy. The beauty of the various forms of calligraphy touched me, and the reverence the Chinese gave to the characters inspired me. “Now here’s a culture that knows what matters,” I thought.
Living in Asia in my early thirties challenged almost everything I thought I knew about the world. I learned the hard lesson of accepting things as they were and not as I thought they were or as I wanted them to be.
Looking back, I realize that I had begun to learn what the Chinese call wei wu wei, which means to “act without acting” or “know without knowing.” Continue Reading at InnerSelf.com (plus audio/mp3 version of article)
Music By Caffeine Creek Band, Pixabay
About the Author
Rosemarie Anderson, Ph.D., is professor emerita of transpersonal psychology at Sofia University, an author, and an Episcopal priest. She cofounded the Transpersonal Research Network in 2014 and the Sacred Science Circle in 2017. Also in 2017 she received the Abraham Maslow Heritage Award from the Society of Humanistic Psychology of the American Psychological Association. She is the author of several books, including Celtic Oracles and Transforming Self and Others through Research.