Sunday, February 28, 2016

Off-Center: It's on the Internet So It Must Be False

Maybe we need a Fake Tao Quotes website.  I searched two online English translations of the Tao Te Ching for "tree," "forest," "wave," and "center," and came up dry.  That doesn't prove this quotation is fake, of course.  With a notoriously gnomic text in a language as far from English as ancient Chinese is, there could be many ways to render a passage; but it seems to me that those keywords ought to be there.  I'll try to find time later to read the full texts and see if I missed something, and will make whatever corrections may turn out to be necessary then.

But the really notable thing about this meme, to my mind, is that it basically contradicts itself: it accuses human beings of imperfection for seeing ourselves as imperfect.  (The comments I saw on it bear that out, mostly taking the form of exulting that Mr. Ching saw how screwed-up and stupid we human beings are.  For example:
It's worrying about what other people think of us that makes us so stressed and unhappy in our own skin ... If we could just learn not to care about other's opinions of us, we'd all be a lot happier.
the arrogance of man - too many of us would tie the trees back till they learned to grow to please our eye while allowing us perfect access to the path, or cut them down if they would not comply - as to the waves - well someone somewhere is probably working on that
And, from someone who calls himself a Master (I don't know whether he considers himself a Dominant or a Teacher):
i feel this pic is talking about individuality and natural beauty and about us not trying to act or look the same as each other basically put like cosmetic surgery to change your natural look and embracing our individual unique physical imperfections and maybe also about us not looking at others and wanting the same as them and thinking life is unfair and instead embracing and being thankful for the smaller things in life that we may have that the others dont rather than stuff like obesity ???
The blinding irony is that just about all spiritual teaching starts from the postulate that human beings are off-center, have lost our way, are imperfect, even when it also postulates that we have a "true" nature that is perfect and centered, if we could just find our way back to it.  In a way this meme, even though it promulgates an apparently bogus quotation, could be taken as addressing that contradiction; but I may be giving whoever invented it more credit than they deserve.