In Memory of Mr. Xu TANG: Pursue loftiness beyond the Individual Life
When he’s around, you would be eager for the pursuit of loftiness even though you were abandoning yourself a minute ago. While when he’s gone, many in the world would sense that something is missing.
It’s been a whole month since Mr. TANG, my teacher, left us. In this past one month, I constantly recalled his inculcation，care and criticism over the past ten years as well as his tenaciousness and optimism in the last days of his life, bit by bit, like yesterday.
When he was in a very critical condition, I visited him in the Emergency Room of 301 Hospital. He was in a coma and deprived of any words or actions. His wife, Ms. Li, told him by his ears: “Xu TANG, Xiaojie is here.”I held his skinny hands from the torture of the disease and felt his fingers quivering and an deep grief in my heart as tears flowed down from his eyes. I chocked back tears and talked to him quietly for a while, telling him that we would take good care of Tang TANG and that we, as his students, were all very hardworking and has made achievements in our fields respectively. Though he was not able to answer back, I knew he could hear and feel it.
On my way back home from the hospital in the evening, the car happened to play the song Dream Camel Bell sang by Mr. Fei Yuqing. As it went to the lyrics as “Wide geese were flying home wearing the late sunset glow, but where is my home?”, I couldn’t help crying with the desolate and stirring tune as well as my deep sorrow. Too sad to drive, I pulled over by the roadside and stared in silence for a long time. In our life, there was a place that we must go and will go, just like those wanderers who are eager to go home.
No matter how reluctant we were, Mr. TANG left quietly a few days before the spring festival. I went to the mortuary to give him more quilt sheets. Thinking of the fact that Mr. TANG, once amiable and kind, could only sleep lonely in the coldness in the days of family gathering, I was drown by enormous grief.
It is probably true that we can only understand the utmost in our deepest inner emotions. The death of Mr. TANG hit us with helpless grief and endless yearning. Yet it was not what Mr. TANG expected from us. He expected that we could think about life through this and bounce back and carry on beyond grief. I think this is Mr. TANG’s exhortation and meaning of life he wanted to tell us.
I often asked myself in the past: we are all destined to death, so why fight? What kind of life should we seek after? Is there ultimate criterion to measure life? After departure as a tutor and starting out on my own, I constantly asked myself: What kind of enterprise is worth our full devotion? What kind of enterprise can be categorized as GREAT? Following the day of Mr. TANG’s death, I sensed the loftiness and greatness of him over my grief and silence as he had been telling me all these with his words and deeds. Yet I was too stupid to understand that until now.
As an individual human being, we can't resist the physiological limits and are destined to death. Yet an invaluable life shall live on beyond an individual life. This is the ultimate meaning of life that aspiring men are looking and fighting for in their limited lifetime. Though the individual body of Mr. TANG was gone, his mind, spirit and personality stay over and are imposing influences on those who have been by his side and who haven’t. I think Mr. TANG is contented, as in his lifetime of pursing loftiness and greatness, he succeeded in transcend the physiological life to be eternal. He understood, practices and realized his meaning of life. When he’s around, you would be eager for the pursuit of loftiness even though you were abandoning yourself a minute ago. While when he’s gone, many in the world would sense that something is missing. Over the ten years with him, I’ve witnessed so many people he cared, so many burdens he bare and so many misunderstandings he let go. I think everyone who has been in contact with him would all be deeply moved by his lenience，responsibility and benevolence.
One afternoon in the days when I was his secretary, a Wudaokou candidate’s mother (Wudaokou: Graduate School of PBC) came to visit Mr. TANG. She was from the rural area of China, plain and simple. We didn’t know how she got to Beijing and how she found our office. Mr. TANG was in that day and we talked to the mother for a while, telling her to do more encouragement and assuring her that the admission exam of Wudaokou was fair and results would speak for everything. After a while, right before her leaving, she took out a present, namely one-off toothbrush, soap and slippers from a hotel，which she prepared meticulously，with her shaking hands from her bag, and said that this was from one of her relatives: “You are often out on business, so I bet this may come in handy.” Mr. TANG declined it politely, and told her that we could not take any presents. Yet this mother insisted and refused to take it back. Hence, Mr. TANG asked me to keep it. Faced with such a special gift, there was neither contempt nor affectation but in his eyes. Instead, he was sincere, serious，dignified and benevolent. I figured that he must feel the true affection of mother to son, the hardship of Chinese rural families as well as the responsibility we should carry. After she left, Mr. TANG stood by the window for a while and told me to memorize the name this mother said and transfer the gift to her son should he was admitted to Wudaokou that year. The child failed to enter our school and thus this special gift stayed in my office, reminding me constantly how to treat others, how to treat life and how to take responsibility. I don’t know whether the child knows about the story or not and yet I bet that if he knows, he would be eager to pursue loftiness. I don’t know whether he knows about Mr. TANG’s leaving, and yet I bet that if he knows, he would feel like losing something like all of us did.
In 2007, Mr. TANG ceased to be the chief of Graduate School of PBC and I quit the job as a tutor to start my venture career. I often visited him for his opinion and discussed with him what kind of enterprise we should develop. He reckoned: “ With your intelligence and diligence, you would build a very profitable enterprise. Yet this is not enough. You need to make it great.” This set me think. What kind of enterprise can be labeled as GREAT? Looking into the life of Mr. TANG and the Graduate School he worked with for more than 20 years, it dawned on me that a GREAT enterprise is, like the life of Mr. TANG and the Graduate School he worked with for more than 20 years, one that ignite your eager to be great when you are down and make you feel that something is missing with its absence.
In the days to come, I shall follow Mr. TANG’s idea as to pursue Greatness and create a Great undertaking that carries on beyond my own life. I consider this as the greatest treasure that Mr. TANG left with his rigor, benevolence, wisdom and life and we shall prove, continue and make it flourish with our rigor, benevolence, wisdom and life.
I’d like to dedicate this article to remember Mr. Xu TANG as my tutor, my friend, my leader and also my colleague.
(The author of the article is a student of Xu TANG and an alumnus of Graduate School of POB for the year 2001, and is now partner of Jiuding Capital Co., Ltd.)