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When You Find Your True Self – Reflections on Disney’s Mulan

When I first watched Disney’s animated story Mulan in 1998, I enjoyed it so much, I watched it more than 10 times. I’ve always been interested in Chinese culture and I loved the main theme of throwing away the fake “self” and finding the True self because it was so heartfelt. Of course, I was equally happy and excited to hear that Mulan was now being re-made as a real-life action film last year and eagerly awaited the release.

Many people know the theme song “Reflection” performed by Christina Aguilera from the original soundtrack. If you listen to the lyrics of this song, you can see the whole point of this movie in one listening. The lyrics are so touching:

“Reflection” Look at me I will never pass for a perfect bride Or a perfect daughter Can it be I’m not meant to play this part Now I see That if I were truly to be myself I would break my family’s heart Who is that girl I see Staring straight, back at me Why is my reflection someone I don’t know Somehow I cannot hide Who I am Though I’ve tried When will my reflection show who I am inside…

As a lover of Chinese history, I’ve read many books related to Chinese culture. When a country falls into a wartime situation, there is a conscription system set up where one man in each household must be chosen unconditionally to become a soldier and fight for the country. But the situation in Mulan’s family was not this situation. Mulan, then secretly dressed up as a man and chose to go on the battlefield instead of her father. She didn’t even tell her own family. As seen in the lyrics of “Reflection,” as a woman, Mulan is not expected to go to war. She’s an ordinary woman, but it is her duty to get married, give birth and raise a child, and to be a good daughter to her parents. It is obvious in the telling of her story that Mulan acts on her own behalf because no other woman would dare to disguise themselves as a soldier and go to war.

In fact, when Mulan sang “Reflection” and looked at her image being reflected on the water’s surface and asked the question “who is that girl?” she only then saw the True self. Inside Mulan there is a strong courage that no man can surpass and she knows that she is willing to sacrifice herself for her family – even though she was born with a weaker female body as compared to men. Mulan’s True self is the figure of a warrior fighting with brave soldiers to protect her family and country.

Since she was a child, Mulan was not allowed to hold a sword as a woman and she had always lived by hiding her real self because she had been taught by others that she should only worry about getting married and giving birth and raising her children properly. At the moment when the real self had shown itself, Mulan was able to rush forward for the country and for her family without hiding her real self. So Mulan eventually becomes the heroin who defended a country that neither women nor even any man could successfully protect.

Now, ask yourself: what is your True self? Are you living as your True self like Mulan or as a fake self made out of what society or your family demands? Ask yourself this question one time. Obviously, in your heart, you will say that you are not living as your True self. If you can hear it, you should try to find your True self right now. Everyone is not living as their True self. It is a dissatisfying life that everyone is living under stress because they are not living as they wish, while being bound by the customs of society.

Just as Mulan herself said, she couldn’t be someone’s ordinary wife and she couldn’t simply settle as a “good daughter” who obeys her parents’ wishes. Just like Mulan, if you realize that your life is fake and live that self-made life, you’d have to be brave to break off the fake self. Find the real self, and become real and live your real life. The real self comes out when you give up the fake self and boldly throw it away. Mulan could not have become a heroin who saved a country if she thought that the man should be on the battlefield and the woman should stay in the house and take care of a child, as the family prescribes or according to the notion of society.

Now, if you know the life that you are living now is fake and want to live as the True self, there is a way to abandon the fake self through meditation. If you throw away all the fake self and return to the True self, when you are born again in the real world, you will have wisdom to know all of the meaning of life and of the world. Additionally, you will know for yourself what life you really want. There is now a way to find the real and become the Truth. You can find the answer in this meditation. Now, just like with Mulan, everyone should not live a difficult life as their fake self. If your life is difficult, it is because it is fake. So, if you do this meditation, you can find the real self by throwing away all the fake self and all live together in the real world and live as Truth.

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