June 7, 2010

This week’s reading from the Tao Te Ching is less cryptic than last week’s

19.

Throw away holiness and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times happier.
Throw away morality and justice, and people will do the right thing.
Throw away industry and profit,
and there won’t be any thieves.
If these three aren’t enough,
just stay at the center of the circle.
and let all things take their course.

Of course, when disaster strikes — like, for instance, what’s happening (and tragically, what’s not happening quickly enough) in the Gulf of Mexico — one questions the notion of letting all things take their course. Needless to say, this verse refers more to our inner stance than our outer action. It’s less about letting all things take their course, more about not becoming all wound up when things take a course we disapprove of. Doesn’t mean we should be passive spectators.  Far from it. In the language of Devi Yoga, it’s about allowing our action to arise from pure stillness. That’s the action that does no harm. That’s the action that’s empowered by truth. That’s the staying at the center of the circle.

This wonderful poem by the Zen master Ryokan offers a rather tongue-in-cheek version of this teaching. The English translation is by John Stevens:

The I Ching States Happiness Lies in the Proper Blend of:
Hot-cold
good-bad
black-white
beautiful-ugly
large-small
wisdom-foolishness
long-short
brightness-darkness
high-low
partial-whole
relaxation-quickness
increase-decrease
purity-filth
slow-fast.

Far and away, our favorite teaching of the evening came in this story:

There was a woman who woke up one morning,
looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.
Well,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today?”
So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror
and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.
“H-M-M,” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today?”
So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Well,” she said, “today I’m going to wear my hair in a pony tail.” So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head. “YEA!” she exclaimed,
“I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

* * * * *

Let’s here it for living in that non-dual state that is absolutely extraordinarily awesomely powerfully masterfully the way that is the Way.

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