Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Saving Fish From Drowning.

I heard of this Chinese saying that Amy Tan (on was explaining: "Saving Fish From Drowning."

She claims this old saying is from the Buddhist fishermen of ancient China. They felt bad for killing living beings for their livelihood, because according to their faith, fishes are just reincarnated human souls with bad karma.

To comfort themselves, these fishermen found the 'silver lining' to their 'dark cloud' with the saying: "We are simply 'Saving Fish From Drowning'...unfortunately, the fish dies in the process. "

I think it is a very sticky-in-the-mind quote because it's like an oxymoron but sounds like ironic poetry, yet the background story and context changes it from funny to steep deep.

Your opinion of the saying in relation to the story of these fishermen would cause you to reconsider your moral compass, your preconceptions of human vs nature, and then struggle with emotion and logic - "To sympathize with the working class or to defend fishes' rights?"

As with every quote I collect and internalize, I had an existential crisis and started asking questions like:
"Is it ok to kill animals for a living?"

"Is fishing a natural skill we evolved with, like Kingfishers?"

"Are humans a type of evolved fish?"

"If Humans are evolved, then why are we the ones endangering the whole planet."

"Killing seems wrong from human's perspective, yet hunter and prey are aspects of nature. Is killing to eat ok?"

***Mental Tangle***

The best part about the story is that this simple saying was the solution to their guilt. They didn't have to change anything they did, simply the way they saw things.

My problems are problems because I get into a mental tangle of negativity, juggling question after question when a simple mind shift might be the solution.

I see:
"Malaysian roads is a hellish battle of metal and honking. Drivers give you the finger, cuts your lane and then criticizes your mother. There are also occasional pothole minefields, flash floods, chain accidents and sudden motorbike gangs."

I positive paint:
"If I can drive in Malaysia, I can drive anywhere. Drivers think about my mother more than I do. Flash Pothole Minefield Flood is my new favourite driving reality game, like Grand Theft Auto, but real.

I see:
"Poor healthcare and waived human rights."

I paint:
"They know we can't afford Rich healthcare and when there is less human rights, it stands to reason that there should be less human wrongs as well.

I see:
"Racial discrimination and prejudice."

I paint:
"A lot of people are really good at racial profiling and simply giving their feedback on other cultures. People are probably saving a lot of time using prejudice, like court trials, judgement can be a slow process."

The lesson here is that having a positive view needs creative thinking, unconventional ideas and maybe even ironic poetry.

It's not a question of being right or wrong, it's more a question of how to see things different, how to find the silver lining of your own mind-cloud. That silver lining saves fish from drowning, it also saves people from drowning.

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