I let others argue and compete, and battle over ideas.
I remain still while each tries to prove one is right or strong or whatever moves their fancy.
At the end, we will all die and no one will remember what anyone was bickering about.
-Inspired by Han Shan (China, 7-8th c.)
The vast sky brightens. A few clouds from last night’s rain remain, taking deep hues of red then slowly whitening.
Several flocks of swallows fill the sky in waves moving east towards the lake for the day. They are so close above my head that I can hear the swoosh of the air.
I feel a slight chill and go back inside. I wrap myself in a soft earth colored pashmina.
A flower quietly withers on the kitchen table.
Autumn has arrived.
Spontaneously, effortlessly, no premeditation —
the original self in action.
Giving without calculating.
Smiling without expectation.
A flower blooms simply because it is a flower.
A flower calculates nothing, expects nothing.
It gives beauty whether we see it or not.
A simple flower can teach us so much, and simple is the key word.
The big talkers out there, and the warmongers, may want to bend down a little and listen.
I should be busy catching up on world events
and emitting intelligent opinions,
but I find myself immersed in a drop of rain water
floating atop a lotus leaf.
My son and I are traveling to the Middle Kingdom.
We hope to glean some wisdom – a bit of Tao, a bit of Chan, and certainly many noodles. The latter are the ones holding the wisdom. Just ask any sage.
I know that through our travels some smile dust will stick to our robes, the dust left by all the smiles that will greet us along the way.
And I promise that when we return, I will spread some here for all of you to enjoy.
Mu shin –
being absent so as to be fully present.
All questions fall into silence,
stars disappearing in the early morning.
The realisation that the self has no opposite,
a flower simply being a flower.
In a small village in rural China, there was a wise and simple man who had a horse, a beautiful horse. One day, the horse ran away. Some villagers paid the man a visit, telling him how sorry they were and how sad it was that he had lost his horse. The man answered: “maybe.”
A few days later, the horse came back with seven beautiful wild horses accompanying him. The villagers went to see the man again and told him how wonderful that was. The man answered: “maybe.”
A few days later, the man’s son who tried to tame one of the wild horses, was thrown on the ground and broke his leg. The villagers who came to visit the injured young man told his father that it was indeed an unfortunate event. The man answered: “maybe.”
The following week, administrative officials came by the house to sign-up the young man into the Imperial Army. Being injured, he avoided conscription. The villagers rejoiced and told the father how lucky he was. The wise and simple man answered once again: “maybe.”
On the story: This is an old Taoist story that I just put into my own words. The central idea is the one of not seeing advantages and/or disadvantages in things, in not weighting actions and things, in not qualifying them as good or bad. It is fundamental to Taoism. The great Taoist Master Lieh-Tzu (China 4th c. BCE) who lived a few centuries after Lao Tse (China, 6th c. BCE), the author of the “Tao Te Ching,” use to meditate on the “neutrality” of things as a way to go beyond them. The practicality of it as illustrated in the story, is to avoid anxiety by imposing or bending things with our mind.
As the “Tao Te Ching” says:
“When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.
Being and non-being create each other.”
(Ref: No. 2 of the “Tao Te Ching,” trans. by S. Mitchell, 1988)