Author Topic: The Happiness of Fish  (Read 16801 times)

negra orquida

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The Happiness of Fish
« on: April 21, 2012, 03:20:53 PM »
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation:

Zhuangzi and Huizi were strolling along the dam of the Hao Waterfall when Zhuangzi said, "See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That's what fish really enjoy!"

Huizi said, "You're not a fish — how do you know what fish enjoy?"

Zhuangzi said, "You're not me, so how do you know I don't know what fish enjoy?"


My friend told me that he was in a similar situation when he commented to his partner that they should let their naughty / untrained dog out of the backyard more often as it looked quite bored there. His partner said, "How would you know the dog is bored? It could only be you who think he is bored."

What do you think this story is trying to tell us?  Is it to not conclude something / think we know what something is, based on appearances as perceived by us?

vajraD

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2012, 04:49:44 PM »
I used to say this quite a lot to my friends as well as sometimes to my self. I relate to some situation most times so that people can understand it better. By placing our self in someone shoe is the best way to get the answer across. We may not be the dog or fish but when we place our self in their shoes you will have a better answer then.

Q

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2012, 04:04:28 AM »
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation:

Zhuangzi and Huizi were strolling along the dam of the Hao Waterfall when Zhuangzi said, "See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That's what fish really enjoy!"

Huizi said, "You're not a fish — how do you know what fish enjoy?"

Zhuangzi said, "You're not me, so how do you know I don't know what fish enjoy?"


My friend told me that he was in a similar situation when he commented to his partner that they should let their naughty / untrained dog out of the backyard more often as it looked quite bored there. His partner said, "How would you know the dog is bored? It could only be you who think he is bored."

What do you think this story is trying to tell us?  Is it to not conclude something / think we know what something is, based on appearances as perceived by us?

Haha... isn't this a classic situation we always go through, but sometimes fail to realize it?

We always make decisions based on our own opinion... i believe the more selfish/self absorbed the person is, he will give solutions to problems that wouldn't suit others. Just like in a movie i saw... when a father bought his son a car for his birthday, and the son saw his present, he gave back the keys to his dad and said "No dad, you bought it for yourself".

Positive Change

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2012, 05:45:11 AM »
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation:

Zhuangzi and Huizi were strolling along the dam of the Hao Waterfall when Zhuangzi said, "See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That's what fish really enjoy!"

Huizi said, "You're not a fish — how do you know what fish enjoy?"

Zhuangzi said, "You're not me, so how do you know I don't know what fish enjoy?"


My friend told me that he was in a similar situation when he commented to his partner that they should let their naughty / untrained dog out of the backyard more often as it looked quite bored there. His partner said, "How would you know the dog is bored? It could only be you who think he is bored."

What do you think this story is trying to tell us?  Is it to not conclude something / think we know what something is, based on appearances as perceived by us?

Cute! I believe this happens to each and every one of us. We make assumptions based upon our own perceptions and make it the absolute truth (so to speak). There is nothing wrong really wrong with using what we have learnt and garnered through the years to form an opinion but assuming it IS the correct view to me is a 'blinkered' view of things.

That is why, from a young age, I was told the word "assume" should never be used as it inevitably means: making an "ASS of U and ME".... I thought this very funny when I heard it but it actually did strike a core later on. Assuming really makes us all look stupid so stop assuming and check/observe/seek clarification THEN conclude based on the facts and not an assumption in our already deluded minds!

Big Uncle

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2012, 07:38:40 AM »
How well we perceive the feelings and happiness of others depends upon our awareness and compassion for others. That's what I think this little story means to me. We are constantly enraptured by our own pleasures and sufferings that we often don't even notice what makes others around us suffer. Just practicing awareness towards others around us can be an excellent practice to increase our compassion towards others. It helps us to develop means and wisdom to help others.

sonamdhargey

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2012, 08:45:14 AM »
Hehe.. I came across this situation as well. Sometimes general perception we thought that things should be In A certain way as we see fit and we force others to see it our way by imposing our thoughts on them. This in a way is selfish thoughts. We are quick to judge a situation, something or someone but we are not totally sure if it was really true but we still want to percieve what we think is correct and we imposed it on others. just like the saying: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The beholder knows best. Always give the benefit of the doubt.

jessicajameson

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2012, 11:06:37 AM »
@Negra You come up with the best stories!! It's very Chinese fable-like.

I just had the same conversation with a friend a week ago. I looked at our dog and thought he looked bored, he answered, "How do you know he's bored?". Taken from your story, I guess I could have replied, 'You're not me, so how do you know I know he's bored?" Haha!

I agree with what Big Uncle says, it depends upon our awareness and compassion for others. Having both awareness and compassion for others determines how sensitive we are to those around us.

With the fish analogy, I guess it was from the reaction the fishes gave that ZhuangZi deduced they're happy. After all, we all gather someone's feelings from their reaction and expression...

I don't think that the story is trying to tell anything. Reads just like a funny story to me!

pgdharma

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2012, 01:44:26 PM »
Everyone of us perceive things differently. We cannot expect everyone to think like us. If we do then it is a very selfish thought. However, we should be aware of how others around us feel and try to put our self in their shoes so that we are able to understand them better.

In the case of the dog, he may look bored but what makes him look bored. Could it be because he is confined in a small place or being neglected? What is the next course of action to take for the dog not to be bored. By being aware that the dog is bored, we are practicing awareness and by helping the dog out of boredom we are practicing compassion as it shows that we care for the dog.

jeremyg

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2012, 02:57:33 PM »
How well we perceive the feelings and happiness of others depends upon our awareness and compassion for others. That's what I think this little story means to me. We are constantly enraptured by our own pleasures and sufferings that we often don't even notice what makes others around us suffer. Just practicing awareness towards others around us can be an excellent practice to increase our compassion towards others. It helps us to develop means and wisdom to help others.
[/quote

Thank you Big Uncle for this excellent explanation. Awareness of what others are feeling is a great skill. I believe it is called EQ, something like IQ, but it is the emotional intelligence to feel what others are feeling, and it the path to compassion. Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. So when we are aware of how others are feeling, it allows us to help them to a greater extent.

I also feel the story says that we shouldn't make judgements on how animals feels, just on how we feel. Just because we don't know what they're thinking, doesn't mean they are not thinking, it doesn't mean they don't feel emotions. Looking past the superficialness of fish.

The story also has an underlying message of that, "you don't know how I think, so what is making you say that you know better than me, or that who is right?"

Aurore

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2012, 04:32:09 PM »
I experienced a similar scenario. My brother-in-law was looking at my family cat. He was snoozing happily away. Then he will stretch and laze around most of the day and night. So it appeared to be. Then, my brother-in-law made a comment that the cat has got a good life. The same thought went into my mind. How would you know he's got a good life? In normal circumstances, I would think the same. However, knowing that to be born in the animal realm is suffering. Knowing this, we will stop assuming that others are happy even if they appear to be because the kind of happiness most of us experienced are not permanent. On the other hand, to instil the method of real happiness which is to benefit others.




negra orquida

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2012, 04:53:43 PM »
Ok there's actually a 2nd part to this story.. hehhe

Quote
Huizi said, "I'm not you, so I certainly don't know what you know. On the other hand, you're certainly not a fish — so that still proves you don't know what fish enjoy!"

Zhuangzi said, "Let's go back to your original question, please. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy — so you already knew I knew it when you asked the question. I know it by standing here beside the Hao River.

But I think this part is about the play of words... I guess can use this as a comeback line if we ever get into this kind of situation!  ;D

kurava

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2012, 11:31:37 AM »
We often form opinions about others based on our own feelings and preconception .

Heard this from a friend :

A student visited an old ailing lama who was at the terminal stage of some sickness. The student was very sad and disturbed when he reported his visit to his own Guru . He went " Poor so and so is in such great pain and in deep suffering...." Then his Guru told him " How do you know Lama so and so is suffering? It is you that is suffering and you project this on the Lama."

Sickness and death is the inevitable ending to everyone. With dharma practice, we will accept this natural process with peace of mind. Accomplished masters transform adversity into the path during their sickness.  One thing I learn from Buddhism is always keep an open mind and don't cling to a fixed view point. Clinging to a fixed view will limit our growth and stifle our potential.

DS Star

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2012, 04:11:38 AM »
We often form opinions about others based on our own feelings and preconception .

Heard this from a friend :

A student visited an old ailing lama who was at the terminal stage of some sickness. The student was very sad and disturbed when he reported his visit to his own Guru . He went " Poor so and so is in such great pain and in deep suffering...." Then his Guru told him " How do you know Lama so and so is suffering? It is you that is suffering and you project this on the Lama."

Sickness and death is the inevitable ending to everyone. With dharma practice, we will accept this natural process with peace of mind. Accomplished masters transform adversity into the path during their sickness.  One thing I learn from Buddhism is always keep an open mind and don't cling to a fixed view point. Clinging to a fixed view will limit our growth and stifle our potential.

This is so true... what is suffering but all in the mind?

Physical pain is not the real suffering, the real sufferings started from the unenlightened mind. A highly attained masters do not view physical pains as sufferings. Similarly, physical enjoyment does not bring us real happiness. It is all in our minds.

A quote from the first two verses of Dhammapada:

Mind precedes all knowables,
mind's their chief, mind-made are they.
If with a corrupted mind
one should either speak or act
dukkha (sufferings) follows caused by that,
as does the wheel the ox's hoof.

Mind precedes all knowables,
mind's their chief, mind-made are they.
If with a clear, and confident mind
one should speak and act
happiness follows caused by that,
as one's shadow never departing.

Midakpa

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2012, 09:07:11 AM »
I notice how people tend to get carried away by their own feelings and perceptions based on what they see, hear, etc. Negra Orquida cleverly divided the story into 2 parts, withholding the first question which could have explained everything. This provoked different reactions and feedback, about how we know whether the other person or animal is happy or suffering. All our impressions are based on our personal experience or acquired knowledge of what constitutes happiness and suffering.  In fact, the story is about the play of words. It is an exchange between two individuals, probably scholars in China, who enjoy such intellectual pursuits. Let's just enjoy the story as it is without being carried away by our "minds".

Jessie Fong

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Re: The Happiness of Fish
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2012, 11:42:52 AM »
I believe this is about perception - how we see things for the way we feel they are, for we are not in that person's shoes thus unable to be actually feeling it at that moment. 

For all we know, the minnows could be trying to escape from something thus by darting around they had hoped to be able to escape. Or it is their nature to be always on the move?

In the case of the so-called bored dog, maybe it was just enjoying the sunshine in the yard!

Whichever case, we are unable to judge the fish nor the dog for they have not communicated to us in a way we could have understood.