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Full circle?

[ 2011-03-18 17:07]     字号 [] [] []  
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Full circle?

Reader question:

In this sentence - She comes back to her ancestral home in order to reach “full circle” - what does full circle mean?

My comments:

Well, the wanderer comes back home as leaves fall from the tree to return to the soil. It’s a natural phenomenon, like an earthquake or a tsunami.

If you draw a ring, observe how the tip of the pencil come round to the original point to complete the drawing – in other words, the tip of the pencil has come full circle. Hence, if something has come, or gone full circle they come back to their original starting point.

As a young person, “she”, whoever she may be, went away from home, went abroad to seek work, adventure, better prospects, what have you. In old age, she returns to her hometown, her birthplace. As a youth, life at home may have been too simple, routine, dull, unexciting and above all, as we Chinese perfectly understand this, suppressive. Therefore, she went away.

Many times she returned to her homeland to visit, to bring money and gifts to her folks and to tell them stories, which all sounded like “adventures” to the country folk. Those stays were all brief. She had to leave after a matter of weeks or even days. Home was always the stifling old home – people still moved slow, talked slow.

After retirement, however, she begins to miss that kind of slowness. The simple, routine and nothing-happens lifestyle is exactly what she’s looking for nowadays. Therefore she returns home to be with her kin and kindred again. As a young girl, dreams and claims to fame made her restless. The outside world attracted her like a magnet. These days, she sleeps soundly without dreaming (or having nightmares). “Popularity” nowadays sounds like a chore and she much prefers to be left alone.

And so, east or west, she often says with authority, home is best.

At last.

Often, when she reflects back on her life, all her travels, trials and experiences, she wonders, sometimes with a wee bit of a tinge of remorse: “What were all those ceaseless comings and goings for?”

But they were all necessary, she concludes.

For such is life – like the wheel of fortune, it spins round and round.

Here are media examples of people who have experienced the “full circle”:

1. On a day Miami Heat players embraced the impending arrival of Mike Bibby, the team cast aside former starting point guard Carlos Arroyo and lost out in the bidding for free-agent power forward Troy Murphy.

At a time of the season when most teams are moving forward with established rosters, the Heat find themselves in somewhat of a whirlwind, at the NBA’s deadline for playoff eligibility.

By receiving buyouts in advance of Tuesday’s 11:59 p.m. deadline, with Bibby waived by the Washington Wizards and Murphy released by the Golden State Warriors, each became available in time to bolster playoff rosters.

While the Heat have not confirmed Bibby’s impending arrival, which cannot be made official until he clears waivers Wednesday, Heat players spoke at length after Tuesday’s practice at AmericanAirlines Arena about the upgrade provided by the veteran point guard.

At the same time, there was a downcast mood regarding the release of Arroyo, the former starter who had developed close ties to several veterans in the locker room. By parting with Arroyo before Tuesday’s 11:59 p.m. deadline, Arroyo becomes eligible for another team's playoff roster. With the Heat operating at the NBA-maximum, 15-player roster limit, a spot had to be cleared in advance of Bibby’s arrival, with Arroyo sacrificed...

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh embraced the possibilities offered by Bibby.

“Any time you get to add a veteran with experience who’s had playoff experience, who’s been in big games before, you can’t shy away from that,” James said.

“A few years ago, we had an opportunity or tried to have an opportunity to get him in Cleveland and it didn’t work out, when he was getting traded away from Sacramento when he went to Atlanta. I’ve always said it would be good to have you as our point guard and it’s good that this came full circle.”

- Heat shuffle: Mike Bibby in; Carlos Arroyo out; Troy Murphy passes, SunSentinel.com, March 1, 2011.


Once Picasso said: “I used to draw like Raphael. But it has taken me a lifetime to draw like a child.”

Picasso was a competent artist when he drew like Raphael. He became a great artist only when he awakened the child in him and started drawing without any pre-determined technique.

The same is true of every art. For example, the contribution of technique in the work of a competent musician is 100 per cent. But the contribution of technique in the work of a great musician is only 10 per cent or so—the remaining 90 per cent being contributed by the child in the musician. Only when you transcend technique, you become great in your field. You come full circle.


Kabir never accepted any gift from his disciples. But his son Kamal never refused anything that his disciples brought to him. This made Kabir unhappy.

One day, he reproached his son: “I do not accept any gift because gifts mean nothing to me. But it pains me to know that you grab all that your disciples bring to you.”

Kamal said: “Father, if gifts mean nothing to you, why are you bothered whether I accept them or reject them?” Here, Kabir had an 180º mind, and Kamal a 360º one.


When Boddhidharma visited China in the sixth century, he was invited to the King’s court. The king was proud of his spirituality and the good deeds he had done for his people. He narrated what all he had done to promote religion and then asked Boddhidharma’s opinion about the merit he earned.

Boddhidharma’s reply was blunt: “No merit.”

Obviously, being virtuous was not a great virtue in Boddhidharma’s scheme of things. The king had an 180º mind. Boddhidharma had a 360º mind. You can’t be spiritual as long as you wear the badge of spirituality. Taking off the badge is coming full circle.


Once there was a conference of religions to which all faiths sent their representatives. Every representative stated forcefully that his religion was great. When it was the turn of Zen’s representative, he stated truthfully: “There is nothing great in Zen.”

A member of the audience with a deep understanding of Zen got up and said: “Your saying that there is nothing great in Zen actually makes Zen sound as something great. So you should not have said there is nothing great in Zen.”

The Zen representative had an 180º mind. The member of the audience had a 360º mind.


For years, Henry Miller lived the life of a would-be writer. He was 45 when he wrote his first book Tropic of Cancer in 1934. Here is what he writes in the opening page:

“I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive. A year ago, six months ago, I thought that I was an artist. I no longer think about it, I am (author’s italic). Everything that was literature has fallen from me. There are no more books to be written, thank God. “This then? This is not a book. This is libel, slander, and defamation of character. This is not a book, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants of God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty, what you will. I am going to sing for you, a little off-key perhaps, but I will sing. I will sing while you croak, I will dance over your dirty corpse.”

Henry Miller could not have written such a powerful book if he had not got over his romanticized visions of becoming a writer. He could write the book he did precisely because there were “no more books to be written.”

With the transition from “I thought that I was an artist” to “I am”, he had come full circle. As a result, he went beyond mere writing to “singing”—not to mention the funny things he did to God and the like in the process.

- Stories that illustrate the foundation of Zen philosophy, by P.S. Vasu, LifePositive.com.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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