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Tuesday, July 21, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Don't Get Sidetracked By Negative Thinking, Author's Philosophy Says

Americans, particularly in the business world, are impatient and sidetracked by negative thinking about themselves and worries about what others think, contends Chin-Ning Chu.

"It's time to stop battling the negative image; be positive and accept yourself the way you are," she said, adding that things will work out if you cultivate wisdom practiced since ancient times.

The new book by the Chinese-born Chu, "Thick Face, Black Heart. Thriving, Winning & Succeeding in Life's Every Endeavor" (AMC Publishing, $19.95) explains what she calls a universal state of mind with inner strength and wisdom. She never spells out what exactly "Thick Face, Black Heart" means but says she based this philosophy on a 1911 book called "Thick Black Theory," which hasn't been translated into English.

"We all have it," said Chu, who came to the United States, in 1969, from Taiwan. Asians already practice it. But, Chu said, the mystical or spiritual aspects of this practice are accessible to anyone who wants to build spiritual strength and wisdom.

Many subtle points of this complex philosophy are explained in this provocative book, which demonstrates how this thought process can affect everything from business decisions to romance. It's slow reading because it stimulates considerable thought about the principles. And it provides specific examples. Chu provides a point-by-point summary at the end of each chapter.

In an interview, Chu talked of motivation and endurance, two qualities, she says, that many Americans seem to have trouble maintaining.

"Asians don't worry about whether something is positive or negative; they focus on the object and do what they're supposed to do," she said. "We aren't patient, but we have the ability to endure."

She writes of dharma, the understanding of proper actions in any given circumstance and how this natural law guides the rightness of those actions. She said people who practice dharma accept life as it comes and perform their duties accordingly, whether, at a given moment, it is to help someone or follow through on a boring job.

One concept sure to provoke readers is use of the killer instinct to accomplish whatever is at hand, even if it means drastic action against someone else. She says it is the power that propels people to take proper actions in spite of themselves. Without it, she says, "Thick Face, Black Heart" would be nothing but good intentions without the power and ability to act.

"Look at history," she said. "Individuals have done all kinds of things for a greater objective. They've been willing to sacrifice the small for the greater good. Western cultures have difficulty accepting this aspect, but, sometimes, what seems a barbaric act is the most obvious choice."

She cited sacrifice of babies and children in ancient times of siege, to help save food for those who could fight, and the fact that the Japanese never had problems recruiting kamikaze pilots for their suicide missions because of the overall goal.

Although she doesn't advocate violence, she insists the killer instinct can help business people in many ways, such as asking for money. Small entrepreneurs, she said, often find it difficult to ask for money to get their business going, because they are embarrassed.

She quotes Miyamoto Musashi, 16th century Japanese sword master: "Whatever state of mind you are in, ignore it. Think only of cutting." So, there's the obvious: Think only of asking and getting the money. Or in doing what is needed to get ahead. Her philosophy tells how.

Chu began writing about Asian culture and why so many Asian businesspeople are successful after a U.S. corporate executive commented to her, "If I knew what they think, I would know what to do."

She already was a consultant to businesses wanting to deal with Asians, coaching Americans on how to handle negotiations. Considered an expert on the Asian psyche, she appears regularly at business seminars and on talk shows, including Larry King's program.

This is her third published book, preceded by "The Chinese Mind Game" and "The Asian Mind Game." She self-published this one, because the five publishers she approached wanted to eliminate any hint of the spiritual in her writing.

But she said: "People are ready for the spiritual approach. Whatever they are doing doesn't work. America is falling behind."

She turned down a $50,000 advance from Disney Publishing for the book, because she thought there would be too much "manipulation" of her writing. She said she had been thinking about the book for a long time, although she doesn't consider herself a writer by profession. It took her 18 months to write it.

"This book is greater than the author . . . it had a tendency to write itself. The information just came out." What's more, she says she re-reads it regularly, putting to use the hints it offers on determining how to act in given situations. Her husband even takes it to work for guidance when things get tough in his high-tech business.

Chu wanted to be an opera singer, and, despite being motivated and becoming adept in music theory and composition, she found she couldn't sing. She sees her development as a speaker, trainer and writer fitting in with her philosophy.

"Sometimes enemies (and situations) help you out," she said. She also finds that canceled appointments can open the way for other opportunities and, that things have a way of working out better than sometimes planned.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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