Off to Beijing, regulating reincarnation, & puff-puff-slams

We’re off to Beijing this afternoon to stay with some friends to two nights. It’ll be our first time to get outside the airport and see some stuff.

Plan to Reincarnate? I’ve got news for you!
Normally we don’t do news, especially government news, but this one… I’m sort of in awe, actually: “Reincarnation of Tibetan living Buddhas must get government approval”. You can’t even reincarnate without government approval:

All the reincarnations of living Buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism must get government approval, otherwise they are “illegal or invalid,” China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) said Friday.
[…]
“It is an important move to institutionalize management on reincarnation of living Buddhas,” the SARA said in a statement issued Friday.

“Puff-puff Slams” and “Chinese compliments”
Got another ‘Chinese compliment’ yesterday (in Chinese):

“When you say ‘hello,’ it sounds a little bit like a real Chinese person.”
“Oh, no, no. My pronunciation is still not too good.”
“Well, a little bit like a Chinese person… a little bit.”

‘Chinese compliments’ pop up in foreigners’ discussions occasionally because they are a bit of a jolt to your default cultural expectations. They’re similar to the “puff-puff-slam” that was a regular feature of our university classroom discussions. If you wanted to put someone (or their idea) down, it was standard practice to give two nice, token compliments before saying what you really wanted to say, often following this pattern: “Well, [concede the person’s good intentions] and [acknowledge/implicitly blame the person’s historical/cultural sub-context], but [state, using more words, “That is SO obviously stupid-not-to-mention-immoral because of (blah blah blah)”].” One philosophy prof said he just waits until he hears the “…but,” and then starts listening.

“Chinese compliments” are when a Chines person gives you a compliment but then immediately follows it with a criticism or some unsolicited advice about some area in which you need to improve. Foreigners often don’t realize that this is a pretty standard way of showing care and concern – if you didn’t love someone, you wouldn’t bother to criticize them to help them improve. Parents do it to their kids, friends do it to each other. In some Chinese stories we read, a character (like a mother) shows her disapproval or rejection of a person (like an adopted daughter) by ceasing to criticize and offer free advice. Often the one no longer receiving the criticism feels hurt and unloved, like the person doesn’t care about them anymore. Ha – I wonder if that counts as a 6th “Love Language.”

Oh, and a biān fú somehow got into the yáng tái where we hang our laundry. I only noticed because for some reason the clothes were swinging at night, as if in a breeze, only the windows were all closed. The thing was flying in frenzied circles crashing into everything and squeaking, but when I turned the light on it hid under big piece of furniture. The yáng tái is only about 5×1 meters, and I decided to open the windows and see if he can escape on his own.

4 thoughts on “Off to Beijing, regulating reincarnation, & puff-puff-slams”

  1. Hey Brian, send us some links to your typhoon video and photos! I’ll get some photos up tonight from Beijing. Gotta run… we’re initiating- I mean, orienting a newly arrived foreigner today.

  2. Hey Joel, so i signed up for the hockey team again this year….last year they didnt have an adult league due to not enough people signing up, so far I am the second person to sign up, would you mind either emailing or giving me the email addresses of the old team and see who is still in town and who wants to play cause If I cant play ill just be a lowely ref for the kids :( (but I got free dallas/Canucks tickets in dallas this year :)

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