Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Yin and Yang of creation

Creation: Spring & Easter
The world is a big place, but God is the creator. (Ghana)

Pan Ku

Missa Chin who have de Chinese shop say de world start wid one black egg. In fact, everything else was pure darkness dem time.

Pan Ku born out of de darkness. He never have anything else to do, so he sleep and sleep for bout eighteen thousand year. Who was to wake him, and what he was to wake up for?

When he get tall like ten coconut tree, the egg get too tight that he wake up. As he stretch and turn over, he break the egg in two. The top part of the egg light and clear, and it fly up in the sky to become heaven. The bottom part cold and thick, and it fall down to become earth. When you hear bout yin and yang, two sides that make a whole, you know what Missa Chin talking bout.

Pan Ku born with hammer and chisel in his hand, his head touching the sky and his feet on the earth. He use his tools to keep the two part of the egg from joining up again. A magical tiger, dragon, phoenix, and tortoise help him with his work for another eighteen thousand year. They make sure heaven and earth can never ever meet.

Finally all that work wear out Pak Ku and he die. But as the old life leave him, his body take on new life. What was his breath become wind and clouds. His voice become thunder. The light from one eye become the sun, and the light from the other eye become the moon. His body and two foot and two hand turn into the five mountain of China. Out of his blood come sea and river, and his hair become tree and shrub and every kind of plant. His bones change to rock and his muscle to fertile ground. His sweat give us rain and dew, and his marrow become jade and pearl. When he happy, sun shine, and when he sad, cloud hide the sun.

Since he never bathe all those thousands of years, he have parasite on his body. So flea and lice turn into animal and human being.

So Missa Chin say.

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When the occasion arises, there is a proverb to suit it. (Proverb from Rwanda and Burundi)

Welcome to this space where we can talk about proverbs that we can relate to (or not), and proverbs that make sense to us (or not). Most of all we can discuss how proverbs make us think about life and living. We can also share experiences of proverbs that have provided us with lifelines or just the chance to reflect.

Some of the proverbs here may also be found in "Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs", published by Random House and authored by Askhari Johnson Hodari and me. The foreword is written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

One of the unique features of our book is that we arranged the proverbs according to life cycle, in sections including, Birth, Childhood, Love, Marriage, and Intimacy, Challenge, and Death.

For more proverbs and for information on Lifelines: the Black Book of Proverbs, please visit us at