Classical Chinese philosophy and stories: It’s easiest to draw a ghost

By | July 11, 2013

In the Spring and Autumn Period there was a very brilliant painter. One day he was invited to draw portrait for the King of Qi. During the drawing process, the King of Qi asked the painter: “In comparison, what is the hardest thing to draw?

The painter replied: “the moving dogs and horses are the two most difficult objects to draw.”

“Then what is the easiest thing draw?” The king of Qi asked.

“Ghosts”

“What is the reason?” The king asked.

“Because people are familiar with dogs and horses, if anything is drawn wrongly, even a little bit, people will find out the problems. Thus it is difficult to draw them. As for drawing ghost, no one has ever seen a ghost, there is no definite shape nor no clear appearance of a ghost. It is easiest to paint a ghost because no one can prove that my painting is not like a ghost.” The painter explained.

This story is meaningful as it tells a fact that shall be learned by trillions of human beings: when something can not be tested, it probably is totally a makeup. Examples are religions, different human groups have different portraits of their own gods, how can a god looks like an Asian in Asia and a westerner in the west? Thousands of years ago, the ancient Chinese painter had already provided the answer, are you still believing in the gods that looks like one of your ancestors? Wake up!

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