By Christopher Fulkerson

CF's Composition Desk

The ignorant person believes and speaks the expression "If I give you a fish, you have food for a day. If I teach you to fish, you have food for a lifetime." But all that is purveyed by this is noise about the "act of fishing."

In this world, up to the present time, if you are relying on fishing, you are still underwater. Expressed in economic terms, it may be said that if you teach someone to fish, you have only a well-fed merman... and you might be nothing more than that yourself.

If I give you a coin, you have money for a time, but if I teach you realization, you have gold for eternity.

The difference between the two teachings begins with the difference between a lifetime, and eternity. Fishing is a skill, and honorable; but limited, chiefly because it requires certain conditions; realization is a state of being, and can exist in a vacuum.

The enlightened person knows that "fishing" is nothing, and that realization is to fishing, what gold is to food. To speak of "teaching someone to fish" is to talk about making but a stingy handout to a beggar; it is easy and pleasurable to do; and someone else does the work. In fact, it can be self-serving to teach fishing, to get beggars off your back. "Teaching fishing" is even a job that puts fish in your net; "to teach fishing" is often the same thing as fishing. The students of the "teacher of fishing" are themselves fish. And fishermen eat fish. Not only is it true that you are what you eat; you are what you do. This much is not a new or unique teaching.

Realization is the only thing that cannot be taken from you, and by "teaching someone to fish" you discourage them from realization. For unless they are themselves but fishermen, persons who walk away from someone after teaching them to fish are taking with them the new fisherman's chance to get beyond the task of personally having to fish.

Advocates of the "teaching of fishing" say that the expression is already a metaphor of that which is beyond, but if they believe this they do not realize where the fish actually come from, and they assume that there are always fish in the sea.


Posted November 9, 2009