Sunday, April 5, 2009



▸ noun: the act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own
▸ noun: a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work

In the world of publishing, plagiarism is taken pretty seriously. And who has not met someone who mouths the words of others in order to raise their own standing or appearance or satisfactions -- all saddle and no horse, so to speak?

But which of us has not relied on others in order to further our own understanding? Children mimic their parents as a means of 'growing up.' Adults do it as a means of upholding religious or business institutions. Friends do it as a means of remaining friends.

So sometimes what might be called plagiarism has good aspects and sometimes it is nothing but a revolting ploy. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but flattery is a vacant and unsatisfying way of life.

Two things interest me about plagiarism: 1. You have to believe or imagine there is something to steal and someone to steal it from and, 2. In the practice of Buddhism, there is the usual mimicry of childhood -- belief, hope, repetition -- but the emphasis is on the positive aspect of plagiarism ... finding out in experience the truth of what was borrowed or stolen or flattered in the first place.

In the long ago and far away, there was a vocabulary-building course that advertised with the words, "Use a word ten times in a day and it is yours."

Stealing is a good thing as long as nothing is stolen.

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