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Artistic and Philosophical Foundations: Metaphor


Metaphor: “…comes from the Greek meta, a passing over, or a going from one place to another, and phorein, to move or to carry. Metaphors carry us from one place to another, they enable us to cross boundaries that would otherwise be closed to us. Spiritual truths that transcend time and space can only be borne in metaphorical vessels whose meaning is found in their connotations…”
Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor: Joseph Campbell

The Buddhist ferryboat taking souls to the other shore, and Herman Hesse’s Siddartha having a job as ferryboat worker, fit very well with this etymology. In fact, a ferryboat is a good metaphor for metaphor.

Most of the ancient Chinese poetry is heavily laden with metaphors. Different plants and trees, animals and insects, geographical locations, mountains, rivers and rocks have been used to describe feelings, thoughts, insights and states of mind.

In ancient Chinese poetry, just a few of the more common metaphors:

White clouds: The transitory nature of our ordinary reality.

Gazing into the distance: Means looking into the future, seeing things that we ordinarily don’t see.

Woodcutters and fishermen: people living close to the Way of Daoism

The long parade of historical figures, locations and festivals used to describe and bring meaning to the poet’s current state of affairs.

Potter’s wheel: the samsara cycle of life and death; reincarnation

Mulberry trees: a life of simplicity and subsistence farming

Birds and fish: Government workers and hermit recluses

Peach blossoms: refers to Tao Yuanming’s famous poem describing inhabitants of a paradise on earth existence and state of mind.

White cranes: mode of transportation to Penglai, the Chinese Paradise

Penglai: A place where the immortals live. A heavenly existence.

Biguan: Close the gate, living in rural seclusion

Blue gate: government workers at the palace

Irrigated garden: to protect oneself from the evils of the world, and preserve one’s purity and integrity.

Monkeys: symbols of rural isolation

Crouching tigers: political opposition in the capital

未经允许不得转载:STUDY IN CHINA GLOBAL (SCG) » Artistic and Philosophical Foundations: Metaphor
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