China’s Great Potential

By Bobak Tavangar

“China is the country of the future!…China has most great capability. The Chinese people are most simple-hearted and truth-seeking…He must entertain no thought of his own, but ever think of their spiritual welfare…each one of whom may become a bright candle of the world of humanity. Truly, I say they are free from any deceit and hypocrisies and are prompted with ideal motives.”

~Abdu’l-Baha, China Tablet, The Baha’i Faith


I love China. I mean, I’ve fallen head over heels….over head over heels……in love with China. I’ve spent some time thinking about why this is; why a Persian kid from Philly feels something so penetrating in the Far East. It’s not the economic prowess, political intrigue, or social change that draw me to this beautiful country, although they are all fascinating to follow. It’s something much more subtle and powerful than those external trends. In fact, it is the source from which I believe those other things emanate.

What connects me to China is nothing less than the pervasive spiritual maturity of the Chinese people that Abdu’l-Baha speaks about in the above quoted passage from His China Tablet.

In reference to the passage, it might be easy to confuse “simple-hearted” with simple-minded but this could not be further from the reality of the Chinese. Never before have I come across such an insightful, ingenuitive, and naturally united people as those I interact with on a daily basis. They have the natural “truth-seeking” quality that has served them so well and are proactively developing their capacity to become “bright candle[s] in the world of humanity”. The simple-heartedness that I have seen in the people here is a beautiful willingness to learn without attachment to ego. It’s a somewhat lost art in the West as we have been taught that an opinionated mind and clash of egos are the mark of the educated man. I think we pursue this path of thinking to our own detriment.

Being here fills me with so much joy. In a given day the energy I receive from just waking up and interacting with the people animates me to live, learn, and laugh in an entirely new way. The first time I came to China was during the Olympics, and the moment I arrived at Pu Dong International Airport in Shanghai it felt like I was coming home for the first time. I later described to my parents that it felt like the last piece of a puzzle had clicked into place to illuminate the sense of completeness I felt. I will spend the rest of my life learning from and serving these magnificent people. What a bounty I have been given.

Bobak is a junior in the Elliott School of International Affairs, majoring in International Affairs with concentrations in International Economics and East Asia. In addition to being passionate about world unity and the Baha’i Faith, Bobak’s Persian heritage, American upbringing, and obsession with the People’s Republic of China lend him a unique perspective on what is unfolding around us. Duck and dumplings are currently on the menu as Bobak is in the midst of spending a full year in Beijing, China studying Mandarin and working for a Chinese environmental NGO.

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