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Tag Archives: The Tao

Chuang Tzu And The Butterfly

Li Po wrote poems that asked questions. A common theme was drinking alcohol, but, when I read his poetry, I wonder if it was alcohol or his intoxication with the world he lived in? What is real and not real sometimes blurs boundaries and we ask questions about what is real and not real. Who is the leader and who is not appears in Li Po’s poetry.

Herman Hesse blurred the lines between Leo as a leader and Leo as a servant in Journey to the East. Who serves who? What does it mean to lead and serve? There is a Taoist quality in those questions.

Chuang Tzu in dream became a butterfly,
And the butterfly became Chuang Tzu at waking.
Which was the real—the butterfly or the man ?
Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?
The water that flows into the depth of the distant sea
Returns anon to the shallows of a transparent stream.
The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,
Was once the Prince of the East Hill.
So must rank and riches vanish.
You know it, still you toil and toil,—what for?


The Need to Win

Yesterday, I was writing and getting ready for class this morning. I pulled The Promise of Paradox by Parker Palmer off the shelf and looked for a reference. When I opened the book, it was to the page with this poem on it. When I focus on the need to win, as Chuang Tzu suggested, I am drained of power and divided against myself. The way to victory is to let go of the chase for victory and the avoidance of defeat.

We talked about the binary world we live in. Winning and losing are part of this binary. They sit at extremes and point in opposite directions. When I let go of and let myself enter the between space, I find my way better.

Take care and enjoy Sabbath.

When an archer is shooting for nothing

He has all the skill.

If he shoots for a brass buckle

He is already nervous.

If he shoots for a prize of gold

He goes blind

Or sees two targets—

He is out of his mind!

His skill has not changed. But the prize

Divides him. He cares.

He thinks more of winning

Than of shooting—

And the need to win

Drains him of power.

Coming Out

I spent a good part of the day reading Taoist material, namely the Chuang-Tzu. Eastern philosophy and its teaching are mostly about being rather doing. It is about being mindful, attentive, and being part of the larger whole and not outside. A quote I came across was “People cannot use flowing water for a mirror; they use still water for a mirror.”

Mark Nepo captured the need to be and allow ourselves to become one with the world in this poem. In unity, we find wholeness and come out in the world.

While there is much to do

we are not here to do.

Under the want to problem-solve

is the need to being solve.

Often, with full being

the problem goes away.

The seed being-solves its

darkness by blossoming.

The hear being-solves its loneliness

by loving whatever it meets.

The tea becoming-solves the water

by becoming tea.

Throw Yourself Like Seed

I spent a good part of the afternoon writing based on a book by Ralph Siu, The Tao of Science. I wrote and broadened the scope to include the Tao of Technology and the Tao of Learning or Education. I grabbed a couple of other books because words like communion and humility came up in relationship to leadership. I refer to Educating for Humanity a lot. and it is one of my most well-used books. An article had this beautiful poem about life`s abundance by Miguel de Unamuno. The way (the Tao) I look at life and my perception is one which is life-giving or not. I think this holds in terms of my interactions with other beings. Life is not separated into fragments but lived wholly and fully with reverence.

Shake off this sadness, and recover your spirit;

sluggish you will never see the wheel of fate

that brushes your heel as it turns by,

the man who wants to live is the man in whom life is abundant.

Now your are only giving food to that final pain

which is slowly winding you in the nets of death,

but to live is to work, and the only thing which lasts

is work; start again to turn to the work.

Throw yourself like seed as you walk, and into your own field,

don`t turn your face that would be turn to it to death,

and do not let the past weight upon your motion.

Leave what`s alive in the furrow, what`s dead in yourself,

for life does not move in the same as a group of clouds;

from your work you will be able to gather yourself.

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