Why and How We Paraphrase Quotes

What are the symbols « and » about?

We use the symbols « and » like quotes whenever we are paraphrasing a quote from someone. When we paraphrase something, this means we have deliberately made modifications to the original quote.

For example, Mohandas Gandhi’s quote, “He who harps on his woes, multiplies them manifold.”

May become, «All who harp on their woes, multiplies them manifold.»

Why do you change a person’s quote?

We may paraphrase a quote for a variety of reasons:

• To make the quote explicitly inclusive, welcoming, and valuing of all people and all life forms.

• To clarify or highlight the truth in their original words.

• To remove delusion, which most-likely was unintended, from their words.

Why not use Standard English practices to note such changes?

We find that using Standard English practices to denote our changes distract a person’s attention away from the deeper truth of the quote and into an internal, egoic dialogue about the changes.

For example, if we quoted Gandhi using Standard English practices it would look like this: “[All] who [harp] on [their] woes, multiplies them manifold.”

When somebody reads the quote in this format, their ego is likely to notices the brackets, see them as a puzzle, and start to churning up thought, such as, “What was originally there instead of “all”? Those? People? Men? What was there instead of ‘harp,’ and ‘their’? Why did they change it? I don’t like this. Why couldn’t they have just used the original quote? These people are stupid….” Due to this distraction and resulting proliferation of thought, the profound truth in the statement is less appreciated or lost entirely.

Our intentions to help people see the truth, are more important than our desire to use Standard English, so we just paraphrase the quote without adding the brackets.

Why not just use the original quote? We all know that Gandhi is using a universal “he” and “his” to speak of everyone and not just males.

We are committed to creating a world where all people, all beings, and all life is valued, respected, and allowed to thrive. As best as we are able to, we want the words we share with others to explicitly reflect our love, compassion, and appreciation towards all life.

We also want to honor the various teachers from the past whose wisdom has been handed down through the ages in written form. We want to share their wisdom with the rest of the world, and attribute them as the source of the wisdom.

Unfortunately, many of these teachers come from a time and place where human slavery, caste systems, subjugation of women, animals, and the earth, and other inequalities were commonplace. These ego-based cultural standards seeped into language, including what was deemed proper syntax and grammar, and the colorful metaphors of the time. Or, because of English’s grammar rules and aesthetic considerations, the unintended exclusions and inequalities arose in the translation of their words into English. At other times, a very wise, yet not fully enlightened teacher, may have great wisdom in most aspects of their life, while containing a huge blind spot in another that seeps unconsciously into their writing.

Regardless of how the prejudices or exclusions entered the quote, to use the quote as is, only reinforces those prejudices today.

We do not want to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. We want to keep and perpetuate the truths from all of the historical wisdom traditions, while simultaneously confirming the value and worth of all people, beings, and life.

Although, our choices for how to respect our teachers and all life may not be perfect, it is the best solution we have come up with for now. We appreciate any and all of your willingness to be open to and understand our intentions behind the choices we have made.

The author wrote their words in a certain way to create an intended linguistic rhythm and beauty with their words. Don’t you think your changes take away from the aesthetics and come off as disrespectful to the author’s original intent?

We do our best to keep the aesthetics of the quote, yet at times, we may not do that. We have made a conscious decision to prioritize truth over beauty, when that beauty contains delusion and exclusion.

The words we share are words that point to truth and wisdom. It’s most likely the author’s primary intent was to make the truth known, so we paraphrase their words with that understanding in mind. We paraphrase their words with love and respect for the teachers, you, as well as for everyone who may read our words.

Again, we admit this is not a perfect system, but we are doing our best to help people see the truth that will set them free from their misery and suffering. Thank you for your willingness to be open-minded and for any understanding and patience you are willing to offer us.

Your arrogance of proclaiming to know what is and what is not the truth, and then changing people’s words, really angers and upsets me.

Thank you for your willingness to be honest about your feelings. We realize that our attempts to be more inclusive may trigger stress, anger, frustration, and other disturbances in some people. Please know that we love and care for you and did NOT make these decisions to upset you. Use this distress as an opportunity to explore your mind’s thoughts and awaken. Please become very mindful. Focus your attention on the sensations of your breath for a few in- and out-breaths.

When you mind feels stable enough, calmly and lovingly investigate the thoughts in the mind and the emotions you feel in the body. Look to see which delusions are operational: do the thoughts contain aversion of some kind, such as judgment? Do the thoughts contain greed or clinging, maybe for things to be done according to the rules? Are any of the thoughts in the mind being mistaken for the truth (fixed-view)? Is self-view arising because you are mistaking your thoughts or emotions as being “me or mine,” or do our decisions make you feel judged in some way?

Whatever you find, calmly and with ease, notice how the emotions in the body are reflections of the thoughts in the mind, when those thoughts are mistaken to be the truth. Notice also how the emotions become less intense when you mindfully observe the thoughts in a relaxed and calm manner. Continue to compassionately and easefully observe any negative emotions until they go away on their own, as is their nature to do.

When you have regained your composure, please feel free to share your constructive criticism with us, either by posting below or sending an email message to us. We are doing our best and are open to learning. If you think there is a better way to be inclusive and show our love and respect for all life, please let us know. Thank you!

Can you please explain your pronoun choices to me?

We have address this issue in the blog post, “How We Handle Pronouns and Why We Handle Them This Way,” and we encourage you to read it.

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