August 07, 2005

Springs of (interpreted) Eastern Wisdom

I recently unearthed a large box of books from our basement storage area. They had been displaced to this nether region every since my move here five and a half years ago. Many of the paperbacks had to be discarded as I flipped through their dank-smelling, age-stained pages. I did, however, manage to salvage some of my favorites.

I have two tiny books that are crammed with words of wisdom from eastern philosophers. I’ve read them both, cover to cover many times and yet, I remain largely unwise. Go figure.

I thought about it for a bit this early morning and decided that the problem lies in interpretation. Oh, they’re written in my primary language, but too often, the transfer of thought processes wasn’t made clear enough.

And so, I’ve decided to post some fine excerpts from these little gems (books), and offer my own special version of what the wise messages truly meant to convey.

First I’ll offer the actual quote and author. Immediately after, I will present my own interpretation so that you too, might take heed and live the life of a full-flavored sage.

“Man cannot for a thousand days on end enjoy the good, just as the flower cannot bloom a hundred days” (Tseng-Kuang)
It’s really okay to be a jackass every now and again (WH)

“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster; one moment of impatience may ruin a whole life” (no author named)
Use condoms (WH)

“The greatest revelation is stillness” (Lao-Tse)
Exercise isn’t worth it (WH)

“Rejoice at your life for the time is more advanced than you would think” (author’s name in eastern writing but looks kinda like this: #*&^^)
We’re all gonna die and it could happen tomorrow (WH)

“That the birds of worry and care fly above your head, this you cannot change ~ but that they build a nest in your hair, this you can prevent” (&@*#)
Wash and brush your hair often (WH)

“Thousands upon thousands of rivers flow into the sea, but the sea is never full ~ and if man could turn stone into gold, still would his heart never be contented” (author unknown)
We’re a spoiled rotten lot (WH)

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear” (Baba Ram Dass)
Shut your pie hole and listen up (WH)

“The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be” (Bruce Lee)
Easier is better (WH)

“Work is prayer. Work is also stink. Therefore stink is prayer” (Aldous Huxley)
I don’t have an interpretation for this. I just like the “work is also stink” part.

“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there” (Miles Davis)
Jazz allows you to screw up (musically) and still fit right in (WH)

“If you are too excited by joy, later you will have to cry” (Tibetan saying)
Whatever you do, don’t enjoy happiness too much (WH)

“No suffering befalls the man who calls nothing his own” (Dhammapada)
Sell everything and claim bankruptcy (WH)

“One joy dispels a hundred cares” (no author named)
Dwell on the good shit (WH)

I can’t be the only one who reads a fine quote and puts his/her own spin on it. This is an open invitation to join me in clarifying the words of the wise. Feel free to place your interpretations in comments here, and if you can’t think of a quote that particularly moves you, steal one from this post.

I’m in the process of organizing my home-office (notice I didn't say RE-organizing). Anyone who knows me, even a little bit, will appreciate the depth of that sentence. Hopefully, in a few days, I’ll be posting about this most exciting adventure.

And finally, in keeping with the theme of this post, as well-known genius/comic, George Carlin, once said, “Ya can’t have everything, where would you put it all?”
Well, as I peer into boxes, bags and bins of my “stuff,” I’m beginning to feel as though I DO have everything … and my mission this week is to find a place for at least a small percent of it.


Blogger midwest_hick said...

Good luck on finding a good place for the stuff ya wanna save.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Rob Seifert said...

"The measure of a man's spiritual evolution is his acceptance of the unacceptable." - The Dali Lama

My interpretation: Until we realize that everything in this world has a purpose all it's own beyond what we would hope or wish it to be, we are doomed to suffer.

Not as funny as yours but then, you asked... ;-) Stuff, boy I can relate there. I have an entire garage full of stuff I haven't set eyes on in more than a year. I think I need a bigger box to put my stuff in. Ah well:

"Everything is as it should be" - Unknown.


11:34 AM  
Blogger Alisa said...

hah! I like the "work stink" one too. I am very lucky, my new abode comes with a storage shed in the back which will further enable my ratpack nature!

I loved the quotes (and the interpretations even more!)

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thoguht "That the birds of worry and care fly above your head, this you cannot change ~ but that they build a nest in your hair, this you can prevent” meant to use a parasol in NYC lest they poop on your head.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I like the "work is stink" one and I can relate very well to “The greatest revelation is stillness” (Lao-Tse)
Exercise isn’t worth it (WH)

2:43 PM  
Blogger frustratedwriter said...

Totally loved this, carol! Going to chime in with a few of my favorite "Western" quotes...

"All that glitters is not gold,
Gilded tombs do worms enfold." Shakespeare "Yeah, that is sure purty but in the end the worms still get it." (fw)

"Love that has nothing but beauty to keep it in good health is short lived, and apt to have ague fits." Erasmus "If you marry her for her looks during her youth, you are going to have the willy nillys when gravity and old age set in." (fw)

4:53 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Book knowledge means less than practical experience. A person who knows each type of cloud formation may be educated, but until he has felt the rain, he hasn't learned.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

i agree with steve. experience is the best teacher.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Wicked H said...

Also agree with experience being an important teacher. Your interpretations prove that theory very well.

As for organizing stuff, if you haven't even remembered having it or looked for it in a year - pitch it. Of course, easier said than done. Good luck!!!

8:47 PM  
Anonymous J said...

Of course you're wise. Well. "Exercise isn't worth it"? Come on. Brilliant.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Carol, they were absolutely fabulous! Your interpretations should be mounted! Great stuff!

3:02 AM  
Blogger Swifty said...

You have a habit of surprising me Carol. So tell me, is Buddha Brooklynese for "butter"?

7:32 AM  
Blogger lilly05 said...

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

*Don't believe everything you're told*

The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.

*Grin and Bear it!*

Well that's my two pence! ;)

8:54 AM  
Blogger Sask 1 said...

I love quotes.Some of your interpretations of them were brillant.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few.” -- Shunryu Suzuki

“It didn’t work as you expected? Next time try thinking outside the box you put yourself in, smartypants.” -- psuche

1:44 PM  
Blogger Grant said...

I've always wondered about the phrase "Spend every moment as if it is your last." That makes me want to give up and run around screaming "Augh! I'm gonna freakin' die!"

2:07 PM  
Blogger katie said...

Those were fantastic! I can't stop laughing.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Dave Morris said...

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

My interpretation: "Hello, doctor!"

Another favorite of mine:

"Those you like least at first you will like most at last."

My interpretation: "That whole 'first impression' thing? Bullshit."

3:07 PM  
Blogger Lizabeth said...

Those were great, and so insightful. I really suck at reading those cause I don't have the attention span to understand wht they are trying to say. I appreciate you helping me with that, I feel so enlightened!

3:31 PM  
Blogger madcapmum said...

You are one heck of a funny lady! Love your re-writes!

5:48 PM  
Blogger Walker said...

Love the quotes and your interpritations . I like "never do today what you can put off until tomorrow" Sir John A McDonald Priminister of Canada's favorite saying.
Just like a politician LOL

7:00 PM  
Blogger jon said...

This post is now the total sum of all my philosophy knowledge.

7:55 PM  
Blogger happyandblue2 said...

Your interpretations are the truest I have read.

"He who knows others is learned; he who knows himself is wise." Lao-Tze.

If you want to be wise then you must become self absorbed. Besides who wants to be considered learned, whatever that means..

8:15 PM  
Blogger Karl Childers said...

Why is it that when we're driving and looking for an address, we turn the volume on the radio down?

12:12 AM  
Blogger mrhaney said...

you did a better job at the quotes than i ever could carol.i like the quote by Admiral David Farragut, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

1:37 AM  
Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Supercool post, Your Weariness. I really enjoyed your spins.

Here's one:

"Everything in moderation."

...You're mediocre, and that's OK.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Tabor said...

I'd comment, but geeeze you are way too popular.

5:32 PM  
Blogger dan said...

uuuuggghh, organizing. i hate that word.

throw everything out and regret it the day after is what i say. as soon as you throw something, you can guarantee you'll need it a few days later.

sorry, i'm not helping am i.

5:39 PM  
Blogger HotForSimon said...

Brilliant Post!

7:24 PM  
Blogger Nonsensical_Flounderings said...

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear” (Baba Ram Dass)
[so] Shut your pie hole and listen up (WH)

That would be good on a t-shirt.


11:27 PM  
Blogger annush said...

that's hysterical...i love it!
great job carol!

10:23 AM  
Blogger Angelia J said...

Love it. Will be back.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Santanu said...

Very humorous post. I'll add a few western ones :)

"He that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding" - Proverbs 17:28
- We bloggers are fools.

"No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious" - G B Shaw
- The you find the paper too tough, blame the examiners stupidity.

"What's in a name? A rose if not called a rose would smell as sweet" - Shakespeare
- Even if George Bush was called Gautam Buddha, he would have bombed Iraq


2:27 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

"Work is prayer. Work is also stink. Therefore stink is prayer"

This is faulty reasoning. Just because a thing is also these two things does not mean that those two things are equal. And they call themselves a philosopher! Pah!

2:08 PM  
Blogger Swifty said...

“That the birds of worry and care fly above your head, this you cannot change ~ but that they build a nest in your hair, this you can prevent”

You could build a multi-storey nest in some hair.

2:24 PM  
Blogger sidcruise said...

I am already feeling wise ...the question whether you have grown wise?

No comments lol ....

9:21 PM  
Anonymous SilverMoon said...

I've always adored quotes and even own a few cherished books containing quote collections. Blogged some using quotes as a basis, but not this creatively.

I'd take too much room with my opinions, so I'm restisting/abstaining. I adored this post, your thought and humor (use condoms lol), plus your Carlin ending. My husband would quote you his 12 words (how many was it??) that you (used to not) be able to say on TV, like "Tits"... "Tits are for kids" based on the cereal....Obvious adult interpretation. Also enjoyed reading other blogger comments here. Great post!

3:18 AM  
Blogger dan said...

"“The quieter you become, the more you can hear” (Baba Ram Dass)
Shut your pie hole and listen up (WH)"

I really do like that one.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Zelda Parker said...

I'll take EQ over IQ anyday. I like to read the Dali Lama and only hope something is sinking in....What I remeber most of George Carlin's many great lines are that people have to buy bigger houses for all their stuff.

8:15 AM  
Blogger PBS said...

Wow, those are great! I really like your interpretation MUCH better, you ought to do a book on it!

11:14 AM  
Blogger psuche said...

Where are you Carol? Hope all is well.


1:34 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

I once got into an argument (sort of) about my favorite quote:

When you reach for the stars, you may not quite get them, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either. - Leo Burnett

I don't really have my own interpretation for it, I just like it. And the guy who decided to argue with me about it said it was completly illogical. Um, hello? Of course it is. That's why I like it.

Great post, Carol.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Luzbeíta said...

Espectacular post! Me divertí mucho leyendo tus interpretaciones. Buena suerte con el arreglo de tu oficina, espero pronto el post al respecto! Saludos.

5:58 PM  
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6:44 PM  
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This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Lyvvie said...

That was brilliant!!

I was gonna suggest that if you wanted to memorise these, needlepoint on pillows is supposed to work, but I like the modern interpretations much much better!

Use condoms indeed!

6:41 AM  
Blogger Hick said...

Liked this much. My favorite was Miles Davis' quote. Cool.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous colleen said...

These are great. I don't think I can top them. I do like quotes though. Here's one "This place is a dream. Only a sleeper cnosiders it real." It might mean I should go to bed now. It's late!

12:14 AM  
Blogger brooksba said...

I adore your posts. I do put my own spin on quotes, but for the life of me cannot think of one now. I did enjoy this and hope your task of organizing is going well.

4:17 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

“That the birds of worry and care fly above your head, this you cannot change ~ but that they build a nest in your hair, this you can prevent” (&@*#)

My spin is that if you see birds above your head - you should run like hell. I didn't do that, and now my hair is full of bird crap!

Carol, I LOVE this post. Thanks for the re-link. I met Ram Dass once; we heard him speak twice, once in Chapel Hill and once in Va. Beach.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Rob Seifert said...

Ok Carol, it's time for an update. ;-)


3:45 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

These are brilliant! Let me try... I love this (not exact words but something to the effect), "when you want something bad enough, the whole world conspires to give it to you."

4:11 AM  
Anonymous Well being said...

Hi! I like what you are doing. Maybe we could exchange tips on Well being. You can have a quick look at so we can exchange ideas.

10:21 PM  

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