Wednesday, February 20, 2008


During the time of working in China last December, team member Liang Han offered a book.

The book is called “Moment in Peking”, written by the famous Chinese author Lin Yutang.

The book was published for the first time in 1940.
It describes life in Beijing from 1900 to 1920.
A fascinating book that learns the reader very much about where the China of today is coming from.

One of the things described in the book is the concept of “tsunghsi”.
This is a very enlightened way of dealing with life as it is the philosophy that says that if something evil occurs it should be balanced by a happy event.

“Tsungshi” was particularly practiced in China concerning people who fell sick.
It was believed that a sick person not only needed physical treatment but psychological treatment as well.

In the book it concerns a young boy who is very much in love with a girl.
And the girl is seriously in love with the boy.
The boy falls ill and besides giving him herbal treatments, the parents decide to ask the girl to come and be with the boy.
Because they believe the presence of the girl, that will delight the boy, will have a positive effect on his illness.

In Lin Yutang’s book “Moment in Peking” the etiquette of the time required that the boy and girl so much in love could only be close if they were married.
Within two days this was arranged so that the now wife could nurse the new husband.
It made the sick boy very happy.
But he died anyway and the girl was subsequently a lifelong widow.

That was unfortunate.
But does not disqualify “tsungshi” at all.

Somehow this old knowledge and wisdom has escaped the modern man.
When we walk these days into a hospital there is nothing “tsunghsi” about it.
It is sterile.
Anonymous and characterless.
Factory like.
And it stinks in hospitals.

Not much has been done to try to make hospitals a nice place.
To counter the negativity obviously occurring there with things positive and happy.

There is one exception though.
In many hospitals in the USA and Europe are ”clinic clowns”.
Most of the time these are volunteers who dress up as clowns to entertain children.
Some hospitals have the clowns also cheer up adults.

This is coming close to the Chinese concept of “tsunghsi”.
To make people laugh when they seem to have reasons to be sad only.

But a lot more could be done.
To transform hospitals into centres with a high presence of positive influences.

A hospital could be made into a place where it smells nice.
Where white is not the dominant colour.
And the sheets are decorated with flowers.


To learn more about the important Chinese author Lin Yutang, who also invented the first typewriter for Chinese and wrote the first dictionary, click on:


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Was the story not a metaphor for your time with Liang Han? Your brief moment together in Beijing would end, not by death but by departure. Perhaps Liang Han is thinking of you even now.