Tuesday, February 10, 2009

苏轼: 不识庐山真面目 Sushi: No way to know Lushan’s true face

It is natural that people all over the world see themselves at the centre of the world. Ethnocentralism seems to be a normal process of identifying and maintaining boundaries between human groups. It is therefore said that every culture has a tendency to judge other cultures from a point of view that it values the most, and to see other cultures as falling short of that respect.
Admitting the realty of ethnocentralism is the first step towards better intercultural communication, which is badly needed in today’s multicultural world. Being proud of one’s culture is not a sin, but denying the legitimacy of other cultures is.
One also needs to have a good understanding of one’s own cultural formation – and to see where one is, one must step aside far enough to get a good distanced view.
This spirit is encapsulated in Su Shi’s poem ‘Written on Wall of West Forest Temple’. With few words but extensive connotation, the poem is far reaching in the sense of admonishment, unconventional spirits and sudden enlightenment. It also demonstrates the author’s affectionate observation from all angles.
Sushi: Written on wall of west forest temple

Sideways a mountain range, vertically a peak.
Far-near, soaring-crouching, never the same.
No way to know Mount Lushan’s true face
When you are in the middle of this mountain!
Note: Lushan is a beautiful mountain in China, where the river, lake and mountain integrate perfectly.

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