To really understand and connect into China and into Chinese culture, you can’t use your head or your thoughts. The foundation of the Chinese mind is perception and not reason itself. The think literally with their stomachs, and all of the cultures pivots around food and the warmth one feels from eating it. The current emerging scientific understandings of consciousness and nutrition is far closer to traditional Chinese culture than western traditional life. I am drinking ice water while writing this, regardless.
One of the most confusing things about living in China is going out to eat with Chinese people. There are endless things we seemingly have to learn and accept in order to process it all. It all is just stomach consciousness. Think with your gut and do everything to nurture it, and you might just fit right into China quick. If you look at all the warmest cultures in the world, with the strongest families, food sits right at the middle of the culture and all life.
So the next time you see pig or chicken feet being served and your Chinese friends look at you a little mischievously, don’t be so upset when they pick one right up and put it on your plate. They are being warm and trying to help you be more alive and warm. My grandmother, an Iowa farm girl, sat right down and chowed straight into those chicken feet. She was one the best cooks I ever met, and the very love in her food was just good yummy fat.
Your gut produces 90% of the serotonin in your body. This is the brain chemical of belonging and happiness, that all anti-depressant drugs try to increase. Science has begun calling the gut “the second brain”, and they can barely understand this mystery. The body itself and one’s connection to it are what separates and distinguishes many cultures and individuals from each other.
From another perspective, the gut is the first brain, and it frames how you see reality itself. The idea that you are your thoughts and your ego, is a mental illness that at some level makes many Chinese people look at the West with pity and disbelief. To really understand Chinese thinking and the Chinese language, you need to realize that it is all about the body and its feelings.
They will look right at you and talk about how fat you are, how their poop was that morning, and seem more concerned about how warm your clothes are than anything you say or think. The language directly connects into empirical and physical reality of humans as feeling and perceiving animals. It understands that perception and not reason are the foundation of human consciousness, and that we are at some level just animals.
So instead of thinking Chinese people are crazy, you might need to start questioning whether you are crazy are not. Warmth, love, happiness and belonging all begin in gut health, and then frame and create how you see and perceive reality itself, which you then rationalize in your mind into what you call reason.
If you think life is horrible and dark based on your thoughts and reason, you have just rationalized a bad diet into a statement on the universe, with no real connection to reality. We form walls around ourselves, our families, and all that we love, so we can nurture and protect that warmth and life. We are literally what we eat.
When I sat dying from a life of overwrought ego, driven by fear and desire, I ended up being fat, broken, and sort of useless. Being a bitter old useless man is not a fun life. I went back to the foundations of what I knew and loved. I went home, I did traditional martial arts daily, walked in parks and in nature every day, and I ate insanely healthy. My mind and being changed into something far more than I was before. I suddenly was able to sing well, dance well, do caligraphy easily, be natural, graceful in nearly all situations, and was able to mend the divides between myself and my family. I remembered who I really was, and not the ideas of self-built up over a lifetime of misery. What my brain rationalized as “me” wasn’t who I really was and could be.
Some of the simplest things in Chinese life can bring so much joy if properly integrated into one’s life. Learning to squat, eating less sugar, eating lots of oil and fat, being physically warmer and closer to those close to you, respecting the natural order of things, cleaning ones home, getting up early, and so on. These ways of living are being rediscovered in the west, and through most human history and life were the norm. Everything in China pivots around the stomach, and the more you connect to yours, the more you will find happiness. Would you rather be 90 years old in the west or the east?