Hi, my name is Li Ying. It is my first name, with my last name Lim.
Whilst holiday-working around the age of 18 at an electronic firm as receptionist, I was told that my name was really hard to remember. I have been told by many to adopt a "Christian/English" name. One man who worked at the company had even said, "Gah, I can't remember your name like this. I'll just call you Jennifer from now on."
I always found it infuriating.
Why do I have to adopt a name just because you could not find the heart or make the effort to understand my culture, to respect my name as it is? I make the effort to understand and call you by your name, so why can't you do the same?
I started to join Li and Ying together when I was at uni because it had seemed easier than having to explain every single time to someone non-chinese that my first name is LiYing, not Li, not Ying, not Lim.
It stuck with me, and as I built a career in the magazine world, it became my "stage name".
I stuck to my guns for the longest time, and though the fury and indignation had long gone, I am compelled to admit that I have fallen in with the whitewashing syndromes unknowingly too.
I had followed blindly to use words like Tao Te Ching, or Chi, or Kuan Yin, even though as a native Chinese speaker I was questioning silently why because phonetically they would have been known as Dao De Jing, Qi, Guan Yin etc.
I eventually came to a point where I could not stand for dumbing down words, just as I would not modify my own name for the sake of making it "easier" for others.
This is by no means to slight anyone who are bearers of these lineages, but an invitation to traverse the authentic roads of the teachings that are not native to you that you are carrying and spreading across the world to others.
Yes, all that comes from the heart means and can make such a huge amount of difference.
Yes, there is so much to be said when we dial into our intuition and feel or hear the teachings even before we knew they had a name and cultural belonging.
And yes, we can all continue to be endlessly curious and students for life, forever humble and open to new ideas and forever flourishing in the space of no-thingness.
Let us all uplift each other and rise together. Let us all love each other. Let us all leave behind judgement and open our hearts to truly learning about each other's cultures and heritage with the spirit of Tea and the Goddess Guan Yin ❤