One thing we all have in common is that we all wish to live a happy life.
What sets us apart is the paths we take on our ways to the desired happiness.
Majority of people still foolishly seek happiness in the outside world: in objects and in the “Who Looks More Successful” game.
But happiness isn’t anything we can find. Happiness is what we are. Happiness is our nature.
Realizing that happiness is our nature is a simple, continual and almost unnoticeable process of psychological and physical relaxation and widening the experience of what we are and what we are not.
The process of being less and less tightened by the suffocating ropes of our mental cycles and habits and of becoming more and more open to the realisation that life isn’t happening TO us, but THROUGH us. That we are LIFE itself. Some people call this process spiritual awakening or enlightenment.
On my personal journey of spiritual awakening, deciding to dive into Chinese culture and language has played a very important role for three main reasons.
When we seek to break free from the limitations that bind us, we must create a space for ourselves – a space that exists beyond the confines of the family we were born into. While our loved ones may be doing their best to support us, they are often burdened by their own mental baggage. Unless we create distance, this baggage becomes our own.
For me, attending a university far from my hometown and spending a year in China were pivotal moments in my spiritual journey. These experiences allowed me to disconnect from the toxic mental cycles and habits of my original environment and begin exploring who I truly am.
Thanks to a scholarship from the Chinese government, I was able to create a space for myself in a completely different culture and environment. It was as though I had been given a blank sheet of paper on which to write my own story.
Creating my own space was the first step in this journey – an external step that involved setting a distance between myself and my original environment.
Step two, on the other hand, is internal. We aren’t only limited by the way others see and treat us; we are primarily limited by the way we think – or, to be more accurate, by the way we identify with our mind and its products: thoughts. Most people spend their entire lives inside their minds, even identifying with their opinions – so when someone has a problem with their opinion, they see it as an attack on themselves.
As we established before, the process of awakening is a gradual relaxation and widening of our experience of what we truly are. The more we can observe our mind from a distance, the more we can experience our being, simply as it is.
What do I mean by this?
When we live inside our mind, we don’t experience things and moments AS THEY ARE; we constantly give attention to our mind’s judgments and labels about HOW things and moments are. We don’t just silently experience moment after moment; we constantly listen to a judge who tells us what we should feel and think about the experience. That is the horror of living inside the mind.
There were two main activities that helped me gain distance from my mind by becoming an outside observer of the mind. The first was traditional Buddhist meditation called Vipassana, which I have practiced since I was 17 years old. The second was learning Chinese.
Why learning Chinese?
As you may have noticed, our mind needs a language to operate. We don’t think in pictures or smells; we think in language. The judgments and labels our mind constantly serves us about our experiences are formulated in sentences. These sentences are usually structured using our mother tongue.
So what happens when we start learning a completely different language? What happens when we start to formulate our thoughts in a completely different language?
Our mind expands. It develops a new set of skills. It discovers new ways to think about time, for instance, because Chinese approaches time in a very different way than English and other European languages.
Once we gain certain skills in the new language, we can compare how we think using different languages. We see that when we think in English, we think in a certain way. And when we think in Chinese, we think in a different way.
We can even switch between languages and use different languages for different tasks: when we want to dive into a complex philosophical problem, we open our door to German, and when we want to solve a pragmatic problem, we choose Chinese. What is extremely important is that the ability to switch between languages naturally creates a space between ourselves and our mind. When we can freely jump between our English-mind, our Chinese-mind, and our German-mind, we start to realize that we AREN’T any of these minds. We are the observers that switch between the minds. We are the users of these minds, but not these minds themselves.
Once we realize this, we can be sure that our awakening process has started, and it will only get more and more interesting from this moment on.
The third reason why I’m so grateful to my past self for taking the Chinese language path is related to self-confidence.
When you begin walking the path of inner liberation, you can be sure that many people will not like it. So many people are uncomfortable with others doing something great for themselves. It probably has a lot to do with their laziness and lack of courage to step outside their comfort zones. But regardless of the reasons why so many people don’t like to see others shine, it’s a fact you need to be prepared for. They will try to hold you back and stop you, and surrender to their own fears and limitations. This is especially problematic when those people are very close to you.
You need to become a knight with a sharp sword. I’m not saying you should use the sword against those people. Let them be who they want to be, as it’s their choice and their life. But whenever they try to tie you up with their resentment ropes, swiftly cut those ropes and simply walk away. Don’t waste your energy trying to change them or explain yourself. Just walk away and let them come to you for advice if they ever want to move outside their comfort zones.
To become the knight with a sharp sword, you need to build up your confidence. You need to gradually start seeing yourself as a person who can do something special. A person of dedication, who trusts in their own skills and abilities, and is focused enough to expand their universe of competence.
Let me tell you, I was full of doubts about myself. It may not have shown so much on the surface, but I was putting myself down. But with every new Chinese phrase I could say with confidence, with every new character I managed to remember to write, and later with every new client to translate for and teach, I could feel my natural confidence growing. It’s a great feeling to learn a language that so many people consider hard and that is truly challenging, not because it would be so incredibly difficult, but because it’s so different.
The more confident I felt about my Chinese, the more confident I felt about all the other activities I love doing. I had more courage to dance freely, and the more freedom I felt while dancing, the more freedom I allowed myself while painting. This led to a more natural flow back into speaking Chinese, teaching Chinese, and creating Chineseffect’s study materials.
Now, I feel very confident and well-established in everything I do. This position allows me to say “No, thanks” to anyone who is trying to pull me back.
This is how learning Chinese has helped me become a stronger and happier person.
I wish you the same experience of gradual mental and physical relaxation!
Btw, if you want to use Chinese learning as an accelerator of your spiritual journey, I have created unique studying materials that will make your learning super EASY&FUN. You can find them HERE.
Filip Mráček, founder of Chineseffect