The Electronic Wooden Fish: Soulful Comfort and Spiritual Redemption in the Internet Age

Friday, June 28, 2024

Sometimes, online jokes may initially seem entertaining, but once the sad stories behind them are revealed, these so-called "black humor" can leave one with mixed emotions, even regrets and unease. In the Chinese cultural concept, joking about others' misfortunes is believed to diminish one's own "merit". Therefore, to make up for this emotional "debt", a new and intriguing phenomenon called the electronic wooden fish has gained popularity on the internet. Have you heard of it? The following article will introduce you to this phenomenon that is both fascinating and profound.

What is the "Wooden Fish"?

The creative inspiration for the wooden fish stems from the sleepless nature of fish - in legend, the eyes of fish are always open, never resting day or night. Based on this symbolism, artisans crafted wooden fish-shaped percussion instruments to inspire practitioners to emulate the tireless spirit of fish, continuously dedicating themselves to spiritual practice day and night, striving for inner awakening and enlightenment.

In Buddhist culture, there is a deeply ingrained belief that striking the wooden fish can accumulate "merit". Here, "merit" is a spiritual energy gained through doing good deeds, maintaining inner tranquility, and devout prayer. It is considered a power to purify the soul, reduce desires, elevate one's spiritual realm, and progress towards the ultimate goal in Buddhism, Nirvana. This process is not just a norm for outward behavior but also a profound baptism of the inner soul心灵(xīn línɡ), allowing individuals to find a peaceful haven in the tumultuous world.

心灵 (xīn línɡ), noun, soul

Examples:

  1. Hammering wood fish purifies the soul.
    敲击木鱼可以净化心灵。
    qiāo jī mù yú ké yǐ jìnɡ huà xīn línɡ 。
  2. The place is balm to the soul.
    这个地方是对心灵的抚慰。
    zhè ɡe dì fɑnɡ shì duì xīn línɡ de fǔ wèi 。 

The Popularity of the "Electronic Wooden Fish"

Recently, the "electronic wooden fish" application swiftly went viral on the internet, drawing attention from numerous netizens. Many mention that with just a light touch of the phone screen, one can hear the clear sound of the wooden fish, as if actually striking it, offering solace to the soul wherever you are, effectively alleviating the stress and anxiety brought by daily life and work. Some believe that this simple gesture can help regain the positive energy or "merit" potentially lost due to occasional inappropriate jokes笑话(xiào huɑ) (i.e., "dark humor"), bringing psychological balance and comfort.

笑话 (xiào huɑ), noun, joke

Examples:

  1. He intended it as a joke.
    他只想开个玩笑。
    tā zhǐ xiǎnɡ kāi ɡè wán xiào 。
  2. That wasn't a joke.
    这个不是笑话。
    zhè ɡe bú shì xiào huɑ 。 

Many young people have found the electronic wooden fish to be a witty yet gentle way to express their minor life grievances. Whenever the screen displays "merit +1," it not only brings enjoyment but also creates a relaxed atmosphere. In this environment, individuals find a small sanctuary to comfort their souls and release emotions. Even though it is understood that "accumulating merit" may be just a joke, it does not hinder them from enjoying the sense of relaxation and joy in the process of tapping the wooden fish, as if troubles are also alleviated with it.

Chinese Benevolence

In China, Confucian culture emphasizes "benevolence" and "propriety," encouraging people to do good deeds. For centuries, Chinese people have avoided deriving their happiness from the suffering of others, deeming it unethical. Although the "electronic wooden fish" may sound like a joke, it actually reveals that most Chinese people are inherently kind-hearted and laughing without knowing the content of some videos can make people feel guilty.

Therefore, the rise of the electronic wooden fish is not merely a simple trend in internet phenomena; it is a microcosm of people seeking spiritual solace and self-redemption in contemporary society. In this digital age, it reestablishes a connection between modern individuals and ancient philosophy in a novel form, allowing us to find opportunities to return to our roots and self-reflect amidst busyness and restlessness.

It reminds people that while enjoying the convenience brought by technology, one should not forget to maintain compassion and respect for others. The next time you feel weary or lost, why not try tapping the virtual wooden fish? Perhaps in that simple sound, you could find a sense of calm and resignation, continuing to journey through life with kindness and goodwill.

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