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Tag Archives: Lao Tzu

The Uses of Not

Jacques Derrida wrote, when we speak of one thing, we invoke its opposite and what it is not. For example, to speak of a man or woman I speak of its opposite a woman or a man. Instead of understood as opposites, things, including words and ideas, complement each other, making them whole.

Albert Camus suggested “there is no love of life without despair of life.” Without one, we cannot have the other. Compassion means to share one’s love and suffering with each other. When we look deeper and are mindful of what we see, we recognize the how what is not readily evident is needed to make the whole of something.

This is not a new idea. Lao Tzu wrote this poem about what makes something useful is what complements it: the hub and spokes of a wheel; the hollow of a pot and the clay; and doors and windows and the room. Each profits from what it is not.

Often, there is paradox in understanding how things and people complement one another, making them whole.

Thirty spokes

meet in the hub.

Where the wheel isn’t

is where it’s useful

Hollowed out,

clay makes a pot.

Where the pot’s not

is where it’s useful.

Cut doors and windows

to make a room.

Where the room isn’t,

there’s room for you.

So the profit in what is

is in the use of what isn’t.

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2 By Lao Tzu

Through the concept of deconstruction, the philosopher Jacques Derrida argued we do not live in a world of binaries. Derrida contended between words that appeared to be opposites there was no space and they appeared as long/short. One cannot think of long without understanding short.

Lao Tzu made a similar argument in the first part of this poem: “is and is not produce one another.” Ted Aoki, who was an Alberta-based educator, described the essence of things as being embedded in their “isness.” In the second part, Lao Tzu spoke about a teacher being a person who teaches without a need to possess the words he/she speaks and receiving merit for their teaching.

While I was journaling this morning, I thought of teaching’s essential nature, which is less about the words we speak as teachers and the way we comport ourselves.

As a Frenchman, Derrida used the proper to describe how one comports themself. A person can have rhetoric to fool people, but they do not possess good character if their actions are improper and incongruent with their “good speech.” A person of good character is mindful of the words they use and how they sometimes betray their character.

Beauty and ugliness have one origin.

Name beauty, and ugliness is.

Recognizing virtue recognizes evil.

Is and is not produce one another.

The difficult is born in the easy,

long is defined by short, the high by the low.

Instrument and voice achieve one harmony.

Before and after have places.

That is why the sage can act without effort

and teach without words,

nurture things without possessing them,

and accomplish things without expecting merit:

only one who makes no attempt to possess it

cannot lose it.

From the Rivers to the Sea

Sarah Tremlett provides a meditative quality in this poem. When I read the poem, it reminded me of Lao Tzu‘s quote that “all rivers flow to the sea, because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power.”

Poetry calls us to meditate, but not to know a single meaning. Instead, it calls us to explore transforming meaning, accepting humility and understanding that we cannot know something completely.

When rivers reach the sea, it adds depth to them and room to explore them more fully. Seas do not have fixed and rigid boundaries. The boundaries remain fluid and permeable. What can humans learn from this? Perhaps, it is that we are all one and the boundaries we think exist are fluid, allowing us to move more easily in the world with each other.

Time reveals that to

execute means to begin

and to terminate

So all the rivers

in each and every country

flow into one sea

 

Photography Quote of the Day

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu To Download free inspiration and life quotes on nature photos please visit: Pi Photography and Fine Art

Source: Photography Quote of the Day

When I think about times that I have felt strong, it has been when I felt deeply loved by someone. At our wedding, I stood up as the procession song began and I shook. When I turned and saw Kathy, I was calm. Perhaps, her love found its way up the aisle of the church that day.

When I think about times that I had courage, it is because I loved someone deeply. As parents and grandparents, we feel that unconditional love and it gives us courage act in ways that seem out of character. On Friday night, while babysitting our grandson, him and I ran around the basement laughing and chasing each other. I had the courage to do things I had not done for years in a safe and private setting.

Thomas Merton wrote that we call it falling in love, because we open ourselves to the risk of being hurt. What if the love is not returned? Love that gives strength and courage is not something that is fleeting and superficial. It runs deep, coursing through our veins and between people. Love helps us remain mindful, attentive, and sensitive to others who are in our lives. More importantly love is felt by others who are not immediately present.

Simplicity, Patience, Compassion

Simplicity, Patience, Compassion.

The link is to a short poem written by Lao Tzu. The world is a complex place, but nature operates in simple ways. Because of this, the phenomena we experience and how we experience their essence is not easily revealed.

Being mindful requires patience. It takes time to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. It is there and it speaks to us when we stop and listen with our heart. When we are patient, we can show our gratitude for those things that slip by unnoticed in life’s busyness.

Being patient, begins with showing compassion for ourselves. Without this compassion, we can hardly expect to care for the world, sentient and non-sentient, we continuously encounter. Being patient and compassionate, allows us to be grateful for what we experience, our living.

The Wisdom of Peace

Lao Tzu wrote this poem as part of his work many centuries ago. The hard work of transforming life begins internally and closest to home. Sabbath practice and the mindfulness that comes with it are essential ingredients to living life in a fuller, honest, and moment-to-moment way.

We only bring peace to the world when there is peace in our hearts. From there, we gradually move outwards and the ripple effects are felt gradually first in our home, then our communities, cities, in our nations, and finally in the world. It is not the work of one person and one life time, but the work of many and many life times.

In this rippling, leading is not leading others as much as it is leading my self in the world and touching others with new-found peace.

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

Tolerance and Flexibility

Despite the weather, we had a great day. Many students do not attend Fridays. In past years, we attended every second Monday. Our administration changed that this year without consulting parents or me. I struggled with it for several months and made a dramatic shift a couple of months ago. I decided to devote Fridays to art i.e. drawing, painting, and building. I am not an artist in that sense, but was able to get access to resources from a friend who is an artist and an excellent teacher. The students enjoy the change. We built kites today and I felt a positive and life-giving energy in the room. I thought of this poem by Lao Tzu.

Living humans are soft and limber.

Dead they are hard and rigid.

Living, the 10, 000 grasses and wood species are soft and crisp.

So “hard” and “rigid” accompany death.

“Soft” and “limber” accompany life.

So if armies are coercive, they do not triumph.

When wood is strong, the axe comes out.

Strength and dominance reside below.

The soft and limber belong higher.

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