Erenlai - Daring to Take Risks 勇於冒險
Daring to Take Risks 勇於冒險

Daring to Take Risks 勇於冒險

True wisdom helps us to take risks… True wisdom weighs the risks and shows us how to face them.Here is advice and experiences that will help you to decide when to take risks and how to survive them. An alternative cookbook for success!





Thursday, 27 September 2007

Experimenting with the Extreme

There are situations in life where we have to go beyond our limits. It might go with extreme suffering, hardships or challenges. We might get from it a feeling both of acute pain and exhilaration. The ones who are able to go through it often say that the experience has made them perceive in a new light the basic facts of death and life, and has helped them to better understand themselves and the meaning of their existence.
Many of us are attracted by extremes, and try to recreate something of the experience of the Extreme, even if it is on a small scale. It can go through mountain climbing or another sport, it can mean challenging oneself with further study, it can be traveling to regions that attract us and frighten us at the same time.

But there are also whole populations that survive under extreme conditions. Living in the depth of the Amazonian forests is one example. Dwelling in mountains so high that oxygen level is only 40 percent of the norm provides us with another example. (Of course, this is different form extreme conditions that derive from war, epidemics or famine, which are supposed to reign only for a period of time.) Populations living under extreme climates strike our imagination: they seem to reveal to us something about the nature of Man, they challenge our limitations. And, indeed, it is sometimes under extreme climates that Humankind comes up with its most striking cultural and artistic manifestations.
“Renlai Monthly” October ’07 issue deals with two “experiences of the Extreme.” One in the Amazonian forest, isolated from the world by rains for a good part of the year, and another with one of the most remote Tibetan populations, at thee frontier of Tibet, Qinghai and Sichuan, where altitude and life conditions are so extreme that the life expectancy is somewhere around 35. These experiences of the Extreme are not only the ones of the population, but the ones of the photographers who go there. We have let them express themselves, not only with words, but first and foremost with photographs. These photographs speak of the experience of the persons they encounter and, at the same time, of their own experience. When dealing with the Extreme, words are not sufficient, and images speak to the heart in another fashion.

To tell the truth, there might be some unhealthy fascination with the experience of the Extreme, and being human largely means to recognize one’s limitations, to find a balance, and to recognize the wisdom inherent to the “middle way.”. However, such recognition has to be accompanied by a pervasive tension towards the Eternal and the Infinite that dwell in our heart. Testing one’s limits and making peace with them are twin elements of human growth.

(Photo by Liang Zhun)

Thursday, 27 September 2007




Thursday, 30 August 2007


Many people who were in the Fisherman’s Wharf in Tamshui near Taipei on July 29th will recognize the word meaning “hello” in the dialect spoken in Orchid Island. Aborigines on the shore were proclaiming the approach of the Orchid Island rowers in their last leg of their ascent up the North coast of Taiwan, reaching for their final destination after one month of sailing.

At one o’clock in the afternoon, many Taiwanese out for a Sunday walk at the harbour saw a small wooden boat with a distinctive shape on the horizon. With a closer look, they could distinguish 13 rowers in armors, wearing wooden hats. The red, white and black patterns painted on the boat clearly identified the aborigines of Orchid Island, a minority tribe living on a small island in the Pacific, South East to Taiwan.
It was a kind of boat built to catch the silvery flying fish around the island, and one that many Taiwanese had never seen for real before.

The same morning, the boat launched at Shaluen beach 沙崙, 30 kilometers away. As the rowers were getting ready, I was overwhelmed by everyone being in a state of great excitement. Surrounding the boat, after the ritual prayer and an impressive war cry, they suddenly, in a joint effort, pushed the boat into the sea and jumped in. Very soon, we could barely see its silhouette from the shore.
Near by, many kids were playing on the beach, not aware of the historic importance of this event in the lives and the culture of Orchid Island’s people.

I heard of the boat expedition for the first time when I went to Orchid Island with a good friend in April this year. Many locals told us about the preparations of a big event planned for the summer.
Sixteen years ago, Aborigines started to build the biggest traditional boat made on the island over a hundred years. During its construction, people came up with the idea of giving it a strong symbolic value: the boat will sail beyond the flying fishes areas, aborigines will row all the way up to Taipei and spread the culture of the small island.

The challenge was big; there were 600 kilometers of rowing ahead, enough to discourage most people. But the Orchid islanders have been sailors for generations and they were eager to participate in the expedition. The four main villages on the island set up four teams of rowers which took turn one after the other. They built their strength through unity.

Orchid Island since 1980 was often a news headline for the nuclear waste dump in the Southern part of the Island. The locals saw in this trip an opportunity to give a more positive image of the island.

While economic growth, in the last decades, has changed the face of Taiwan, people of Orchid Island seem to have slipped through the net, and their lives did not change. While I was there with my friend, we enjoyed sleeping on a house’s roof and reaching the sea for a morning bath before eating tasty sweet potatoes our neighbor offered us.

However, economic needs catch them up. Shilan, a 26 years-old-guy we met, explained us that most young people like him, are extremely attached to this island, but do not find more than a seasonal activity in Orchid Island. They need to go to Taiwan to find some work for the rest of the year.

He further said the boat trip was also a chance to bring back all generations of Orchid Island people to their roots and work together on a common project: introducing a way of living in real harmony with nature to the Taiwanese.
The stopovers of the boat along the East Coast of Taiwan were many opportunities to do so.

When the rowers finally reached Tamshui harbour, their dark faces, burn by the sun for rowing many days under the heat were lightened up by their families on the shore.
It is with great emotion that everybody acclaimed them.

Dancers from the aboriginal tribes of Hualien celebrated their success with traditional festivities. The last powerful scene of the day happened when the boat was taken out of the water to be brought by the rowers to the front stage.
With the final family picture shot, the aborigines turned a page of history of the Orchid Island people. The sunset marked the end of a long voyage.

Attached media :

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Monday, 20 August 2007

Taking the Chance Out of Chance

At precisely 6:05 PM on August 1, 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota a bridge on Interstate Highway 35 crowded with rush hour traffic suddenly broke apart and plunged into the Mississippi River sending cars tumbling into the water and killing passengers unable to escape. At least eight innocent persons had the unexpected misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time in spite of the fact that they were doing what was very proper and right, minding their own business, obeying all the traffic regulations and carefully avoiding anything that might endanger others.

Things like this happen all the time. No one has any absolute guarantee when leaving home in the morning that he or she will return in the evening. What are the odds that such a thing could happen to you? Based on figures given in Wikipedia for the year 2002 when the world population was about 6.2 billion, on an average about 155,610 people died every day. The odds that you would have been one of them were about 39,840 to 1. So you can breathe easy. The chances you will die today are just as low.

And the chance that you might die today due to an accident is much, much lower. Only an average of about 12,920 people died each day due to accidents in 2002 which means the odds that you would have been one of them were about 495,240 or 908,200 to 1 depending on whether you are male or female. So the chances are very high that you will never die the result of an accident. The chances are also in your favor that you will not die today, but no matter how healthy or careful you are, a day is coming when you are going to be one of those declared dead.

In the United States, the state government sanctioned California Mega Millions Lottery at regular intervals pays out jackpots of at least 12 million dollars each time. The odds of winning the jackpot are only 175,711,536 to 1, yet millions and millions of people pay out $1 to $20 a ticket for a chance to win. The odds of your dying on drawing day are actually 4400 times higher than your odds for winning the jackpot. The odds for winning the lowest prize, however, are about 40 to 1, which means that 39 out of every 40 people come away empty-handed. Yet they buy the tickets anyway. Why? Because even the chance of 1 in 40 is worth the risk. No one who has won can forget the thrill and excitement of winning. And there is always that hope for one of the big wins. What would happen if everyone decided that since there are 39 out of 40 chances that they will lose, they will not participate? Then 40 out of 40 will win nothing and the California Education system, which benefits from the proceeds of the lottery, will be left with nothing. Everybody loses.

Every moment of every day whatever is happening to us at that precise moment is a chance occurrence. What were the chances that all those people in the bus with you would ever be together in that one place? What are the odds that that stranger from another country would end up sitting next to you, who have never seen him before, and you have never before been in that seat? What are the chances that you will both get off at the same stop or will sit next to him tomorrow if you take the same bus or that you will ever meet again or become friends or even end up married to one another as actually happened to a friend of mine who met a stranger on a train? Such things happen every day.

The odds are infinity to one that the precise alignment in your body of atoms and cells at this moment will ever occur exactly the same way with the same cells again, because there is too much irreversible movement. That didn’t prevent the exact chance alignment at this moment from happening as it did. It was just out of your control. Not wholly so, however, because you were actively and deliberately controlling the movement of some parts of yourself, making you somewhat responsible for at least some part of that alignment.

It is the same with that chance encounter on the bus. It was unintended chance that brought you two strangers to sit next to one another, but it was you who choose to get on the bus at that time, it was the stranger who had somewhere to go on the same bus at that precise time, so the chance encounter only happened because it wasn’t only by chance that you two were traveling in that place at that time. To go a step further, it might have been purely unintended chance that brought you two strangers together that once or crossed your paths again at some later time, but if you become friends and especially if you eventually marry, it could only happen because you didn’t leave it to chance any more but deliberately intervened and manipulated what finally occurred.

At every single moment of our lives, there is a coming together of persons and things, places and events that will occur exactly like this just this once, never to be duplicated, impossible to have been predicted exactly, a chance occurrence with odds so high they can’t even be calculated or expressed. At any moment something may happen or something intervene that will end or change our lives. We live in a world and in circumstances that are not under our control, but this doesn’t mean we have no control over our lives. Most of the time we get through the day without major accident. We manage to get our work done and achieve our goals. And when things do go wrong, it isn’t always by chance or due to someone else or something else, but because we ourselves made a mistake or did something that changed the equation and interfered.

If there existed a super computer that kept track of every particle of matter and energy and was able to project the path of each item and plot the actions and interactions of every encounter, could it predict the exact location of every particle ten years from now? Only in those parts of the universe beyond the reach of humans or any other living things that have the power to react unpredictably. Maybe we are immersed in a sea of elements and events that are beyond our control, but so long as we have the power to control how we react, we can and do alter the inevitability of what bounces off us.

Living with risk is an inescapable part of life. Every time we get on an airplane, we cannot be absolutely sure it will not be the next plane to crash. Every time we drive down the crowded freeway or just get in a car we cannot be absolutely sure we will get out alive or uninjured. What can we do about it? I suppose we could refuse to fly or to drive or be driven. Besides making our lives incredibly inconvenient and damaging world economy should everyone do the same, it would only mean we will die some other way or only experience other forms of accident. Destroying every banana in the world might eliminate slippery banana peels, but that would only mean that if we slip it will be on something else.

But this doesn’t mean that there is nothing we can do. Though many of the things that happen to us are unforeseen and unavoidable, many accidents happen because of carelessness or lack of attention or because someone neglected or overlooked some essential detail. Instead of feeling sorry for falling victim to so many unavoidable events, we should be proud of all the times that our carefulness and diligence and attention spotted dangers and avoided obstacles and guided ourselves and others to safety.

I don’t believe in Fate in the sense that the Creator planned out in advance every event of my life and predetermined the directions I would take at every turning point.

Certainly, many of the events in my life were not of my choosing and beyond my control, like the time and the place of my birth. Some were disruptive, like the bouts of illness. Many were pleasant surprises and welcome diversions, like the coming of friends and the opening of new opportunities.

You can call the above occurrences my Fate, if you will, but with one important difference. Though they happened without my intention or control, I always had some responsibility over what happened next, so the ultimate effects of these events on my life and my subsequent actions were at least in part determined and modified by me. I am not the creature of my Fate. I am the result of my responses to Fate.

I don’t believe in Destiny, either, in the sense that I was predestined to reach whatever goals or accomplishments or failures that have occurred in the course of my life. Even my final destiny, Heaven or Hell, depends upon my choice and my behavior.

I believe that the key to my destiny is in how I use the talents and opportunities that life presents me with, how I respond to the world around me, how I react to the things that happen to me, how I deal with the people around me, how I handle the problems that beset me, how I enjoy the blessings I receive and cope with the losses and sufferings I experience.

This doesn’t mean I do everything right, but it explains the motivation that drives me. But at least I am doing something that is my choice under my direction for which I have responsibility, so it is no longer just a blind chance consequence.

Yes, we live in a world where we are subject to forces and events that are out of our control, we interact with people whose conduct, behavior and intentions are often unpredictable and sometimes erratic. At any moment something might happen that will end or alter our lives or interfere with our plans. Such things do happen without our permission with no opportunity of choice or refusal, but not what happens next. The way we respond, the actions we take are what determine our destiny and decide our fate. We are not what we are because of what happens to us, we are what we become after it happens.
Drawing by Bendu

Wednesday, 25 July 2007


We are 2700 meters up on the plateau of Liang Shan or “the Chilly Mountains”. It is noon, the weather is very hot, and the sun “bites” people as the Chinese like to say. We have worked all morning long to install water pipes which are going to bring water to about thirty houses. You may have ADSL internet but here, in the 4th and 5th brigades of Yangjuan, there soon will be 7 communal taps which will make happy all the ones who have to cope with the water chores. It is very hot but it is comfortable under the shadow of the adobe houses. Then I am invited to come in very naturally, to take a break. This is not really a lunch break. Every day around here, lunch is reduced to its simplest expression. But we just celebrated the Torch Festival. Each family killed a pig, a lamb or at least some poultries. So we sit down, the women bring a pot of rice and left-over meat.
We have been celebrating these days, and it would be most surprising if we could not find some bottles of beer left, maybe even some cases. Here we are, the miracle happens, everyone has his own bottle, and well, courage is back!

In the adobe house, decoration and furniture are reduced to the minimum: a portrait of the grand helmsman, a cupboard, some stools and, over there, in the house of the head of the brigade, a color television. We don’t have running water yet, but we have satellite TV. Collective or individual, the dish antennas are everywhere in the Chinese landscape and pick up the national channels very well.

We are eating and talking while the small screen is uttering its stream of images and music. Sometimes, when nothing is holding the attention of anyone, someone changes to another channel.

The conversation goes on nonchalantly. And then, someone dares to give an opinion: this TV doesn’t offer anything good, at least nothing that relates to our life here. I can only agree with that. With more or less 1000 US dollars income per year for most of the families, the slimming courses offered by the advertisements are useless in the area!
Actually, I am the only one embarrassed…and concerned. Suddenly, we finally surf to a different program “The Story of a Bear”. It is a French movie about a Pyrenean she-bear, which fools two hunters and escapes protecting her baby. The conversation stops. Everyone is suddenly fascinated. The she-bear, running for her life, snatches her bear cub from the clutches of the hunters. A story like this one really tears you at your heartstrings!

30 or 40 years ago, Yangjuan was surrounded by forest. Then China needed its raw materials to develop, and here as anywhere else the forest which was protecting so well the bears from the clutches of the hunters has been cleared of trees and exploited to death.
40 years ago, one could still see bears in the forests behind Yangjuan. People of my age told me that. And they were not scary-stories from their childhood.
At the hottest time of the day, in the adobe house, bear and beer: very good!
Yangjuan and Pianshui Villages

Attached media :

Thursday, 19 July 2007

WWF panda does kungfu

Here are two short clips by Jim Vieille and Tom Gargonne who deliver a very punchy and direct message : is it so difficult to do the right thing for the planet? Watch the panda behind your back before leaving your house without turning off the lights or the AC…


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Thursday, 28 June 2007

Ronald's Laws for Righting Wrongs

In 1948 or 1949 an army captain Edward A. Murphy, Jr. a research engineer at Edwards Air Force Base in California coined a phrase which has become a popular adage named after him.

Murphy’s Law: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” This acknowledges the fact that things often don’t turn out the way we want them to. An unexpected glitz or overlooked contingency, an unprepared for deviation or a last minute change, some interference from outside: There is no end to the list of things that can go wrong. What Murphy’s Law tells us is that such things happen all the time so we should be prepared for them.

What we need are also some laws that tell us what to do when things go wrong. This is why I have coined the following Laws. They take up where Murphy’s Law ends.

Ronald’s First Law: “When something goes wrong, it’s time to do something right.” First, count to ten. Don’t let anger, depression, sadness, humiliation, or disappointment rob you of your cool or your determination. Second, face the problem, fix it, if you can, or put it behind you.

Ronald’s Second Law: “After every wrong, there is a right somewhere.” When something goes wrong and you can’t fix it, leave it. There is a way out. Every roadblock has a detour. There is always a way around or a new destination to plan. For every door that closes another opens somewhere else. This new door may or may not lead to the same place, but you have to go on with your life as well as you can.

Ronald’s Third Law: “You have to look away from trouble to see around it.” Remember the fly that dropped from exhaustion battering against a pane of glass right next to an open window.

Ronald’s Fourth Law: “Every barrier has the potential of beginning a detour to something better.” The best things are sometimes the good things that happen after bad things occur.

Ronald’s Fifth Law: “When something goes wrong and you can’t fix it, fix yourself.” To get out of trouble, don’t deny it; leave it behind by moving forward. There are good things ahead if you turn away from the bad. Pick yourself up and set a new course.

Ronald’s Sixth Law: “Where there is shadow, there must be light.” It takes light to cast a shadow. To find that light, you need to turn away from the shadow. The pot of gold is not at the end of a rainbow, but in the sun shining in the rain.

Ronald’s Seventh Law: “You have as many hands and feet as you have friends.” It is good to stand up for yourself and to take matters into your own hands, but the more hands you have for pulling the load, the easier the effort, to say nothing of the good company uplifting your spirits.

Ronald’s Eighth Law: “Frenzied hands fracture friendships.” Don’t overstretch your strength or that of your friends. Even God rested on the seventh day.

Ronald’s Ninth Law: “The value of a package is the contents, not the wrappings.” What goes wrong doesn’t make you bad. Only you can do that if you fall apart.

Ronald’s Tenth Law: “If it doesn’t have an exception, it isn’t a law.” There is no way to control all the things that happen to us. We just have to put all our energies into doing what we think is right. If it turns out wrong, then try again. At the end of our lives we won’t be judged by how many times we did things right, but by how many times we tried.

(Photo by C.P.)

Thursday, 28 June 2007


我相信,我们都越来越「变成」我们自己。我们必须要有信心,从自己做起;我们必须跳脱自己的局限,不断朝向变成自己的道路前行。我知道我自己还有还很多事要看要学,我并不能说自己是个完人。当我不断探索他人丰富的 一面,我就会把这些丰富面逐渐纳于己内,我越来越变成我自己。我希望我变成我自己的同时,在与你同行的路上共享人间博爱。


Thursday, 28 June 2007


我相信,我們都越來越「變成」我們自己。我們必須要有信心,從自己做起;我們必須跳脫自己的侷限,不斷朝向變成自己的道路前行。我知道我自己還有還很多事要看要學,我並不能說自己是個完人。當我不斷探索他人豐富的 一面,我就會把這些豐富面逐漸納於己內,我越來越變成我自己。我希望我變成我自己的同時,在與你同行的路上共享人間博愛。

Thursday, 28 June 2007


我相信,我們都越來越「變成」我們自己。我們必須要有信心,從自己做起;我們必須跳脫自己的侷限,不斷朝向變成自己的道路前行。我知道我自己還有還很多事要看要學,我並不能說自己是個完人。當我不斷探索他人豐富的 一面,我就會把這些豐富面逐漸納於己內,我越來越變成我自己。我希望我變成我自己的同時,在與你同行的路上共享人間博愛。

Monday, 28 May 2007


台灣和歐洲的首度接觸,正是在人類文明史上堪稱一大里程碑的大航海時期。1544年,自歐洲往東航向中國東南沿海的葡萄牙船隊,在經過台灣海峽時來到台灣,望著連綿翠綠的崇山峻嶺大喊著:「Ilha Formosa!」不久之後,西班牙人、荷蘭人先後靠岸登陸,在台灣建立政權,後來,英國和法國軍隊也來到台灣。而伴隨武力和貿易勢力來到的,是歐洲的傳教士和探險家、博物學家,西方的建築、宗教開始出現在台灣,也使得台灣的風土民情開始被歐洲人所認識。
而在歐洲高等教育區域的建構上,最受重視也是企圖心最強的,就是所謂的「布隆尼亞宣言」。它首先在1998年,由法、德、英、義四國教育部長簽署巴黎大學宣言,決定推動「學歷文憑一致化」;接著1999年,29國教育部門的首長於義大利發表布隆尼亞宣言,建立「歐洲高等教育區域」的共識;然後2000年,歐盟各國元首有鑑於全球化和知識社會帶來的挑戰,於高峰會中共同宣示將於2010年完成布隆尼亞宣言中的構想;2001年,歐盟教育界的領袖於西班牙商討推動策略,隨後由教育部長在捷克集會,決議各項討論,包括進行高等教育的體制統合、文憑學歷相互承認,以及特別強調「歐洲品牌」(European label)和歐洲面向(European dimension),希望在課程內涵及校園文化方面,既能保留並發揚各國的教育學習強項,又能彰顯整體歐洲的文化特色。
歐盟在文化上的推動和作為,以及2006年6月揭幕的法國布利碼頭博物館(Musée du quai Branly),帶給我和許多台灣民眾深刻的印象,那就是「尊重並發揚多元文化的價值」。文化其實並無優劣之分,我以前常說,面對文化事務和相關建設,要用「加法」、「乘法」來思考,唯有這樣,文化的土讓才不會貧瘠,文化的花朵才能百花齊放、各展嬌妍。
台灣的土地僅僅佔全球陸地面積的0.023 %,物種的多樣性和特殊性卻佔全世界的十分之ㄧ。由於地理位置特殊,造就了台灣多樣的自然景觀和生態系統,不僅植物相涵蓋各種氣候帶,棲地和物種的多樣性,也成為世界之冠。另外,在這塊土地上,台灣擁有與南島民族同源的原住民族群,發展出屬於台灣特有的山海文化,晚近數百年來,源於歷史的偶然因素,則發展出中國漢族為主的平原文化、歐美西洋文化、日本東洋文化交融的必然現象。這些讓台灣就像一顆鑽石,小而美、小而晶亮,不容忽視。

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Thursday, 24 May 2007




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