Tag Archives: tao

The Art of Orientalism or: What Westerners Get Wrong About Daoism

I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed yesterday, and I saw a post by the SETI Institute. As an avid fan of both science fiction and astronomy (science fact, I suppose), I almost always read what they write.

What I see is “Neil deGrasse Tyson Selects the Eight Books Every Intelligent Person on the Planet Should Read”. Now, I’m no fan of the new atheist crowd, but I read a lot, so I was curious. First of all, while his quips about the Bible, The Prince, and The Age of Reason are obviously problematic, his thoughts on the Art of War aren’t just “problematic”, they’re just plain wrong.

tyson

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Eastern Philosophy in Ping Pong the Animation: the Conclusion

For a professed fan of the show it sure took me a long time to finish it. But I finally did last night.

The show blew me away, but that’s a post for another time. Instead I’d like to go back to my earlier post, Eastern Philosophy in Ping Pong the Animation.

If you don’t want to reread the entire article:

Kong represents Confucianism

Peco represents Buddhism

Smile represents Taoism

I think by the end of the show these roles become even more rigidly defined. As I mentioned in the previous article, the three characters were ultimately “bad” representations of their philosophies, but by the end of the show, they become paragons of their respective beliefs.

 

Kong and Confucianism: 

In the previous article we concluded Kong  had Confucian tendencies, but these were overshadowed by his anti-social personality. By the end of the series, Konghas completely transformed. By working with his team he is able to gain a greater understanding of his own position in life. Rather than be a asocial mercenary he becomes the leader and teacher his team needs.

With this character growth he’s rewarded greatly; the end of the series has him excelling at the international level.

kong

Interesting as well is that Kong and Confucius share the same surname.

Peco and Buddhism:

I think Peco’s enlightenment highlighted a very Zen sort of Buddhism. In Zen, the idea is basically: “the master for whom, before his studies, mountains were only mountains, but during his studies mountains were no longer mountains, and afterward mountains were again mountains”.

Peco makes an ultimate return to the essence of Ping Pong. He is able to surpass the Dragon by playing as a kid again, by playing for fun. He sees ping pong as ping pong.

peco

In reaching this enlightened state, Peco is rewarded as Kong is. He is able to be the best as he lets go of his desires to win. Though Peco wins anyway, I think the ultimate take-away is that it wouldn’t matter if he wins or loses. It’s hard to imagine a reality where he wouldn’t keep playing ping pong.

Smile and Taoism:

Smile makes the biggest turnaround of all three but still sticks to his core. While we can’t know for certain, it appears that ping pong is no longer his life after the final game and final time skip. He much prefers teaching.

smile

Ping pong was never about winning to smile, but it also wasn’t just something to do before he dies like he claims. It was his connection to Peco.

Thus, Smile comes to the realization that we outlined he lacked previously:

“When you are content to be simply yourself
and don’t compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.”

Smile was never content to be himself until that game with Peco.