I find this week’s verse from Tao Te Ching particularly moving:
She who is centered in the Tao
can go where she wishes, without danger.
She perceives the universal harmony,
even amid great pain,
because she has found peace in her heart.
Music or the smell of good cooking
may make people stop and enjoy.
But words that point to the Tao
seem monotonous and without flavor.
When you look for it, there is nothing to see.
When you listen for it, there is nothing to hear.
When you use it, it is inexhaustible.
This verse put me in mind of one of my favorite teachings from the Hindu Yogic tradition, sthitha prajna, steady wisdom. This quote comes from the medieval poet-saint Jneshwar’s commentary on Bhagavad Gita:
O Arjuna, if you want to have the vision of wisdom, pay attention to Me. I will explain to you how to recognize wisdom.
You may recognize wisdom in a person who has patience without intolerance.
He patiently bears all things, just as a person wears his favorite ornaments. Even if calamity should come to him, he wouldn’t be overwhelmed by it.
His attitude is one of glad acceptance, whether he obtains what he wants or what he doesn’t want.
Be bears with equanimity both honor and shame, he is the same in happiness and sorrow, and he isn’t affected differently by praise or blame.
He isn’t scorched by heat, nor does he shiver with cold. He isn’t intimidated by anything.
Just as Mount Meru doesn’t feel the weight of its own peaks, nor does the boar feel the burden of the earth, and just as the entire creation doesn’t weigh down the earth, in the same way, he doesn’t sweat under the pressure of the pairs of opposites.
Just as the ocean swells to receive the water of all the rivers flowing into it, similarly, there is nothing that such a person cannot bear with equanimity, and he has no memory even of what he has suffered.
Whatever happens to his body he accepts as his own, and he takes no credit for what he suffers.
O Arjuna, he who practices such quiet endurance adds greatness to wisdom.
So, my dear ones, here are your readings for this week. I would love to embellish the above quotes with more commentary as I do at class, but honestly, as I copy them here, I find myself pulled into an inner place where there are no words. Seems the best I can do is be scribe to the teachings, which I offer from my heart to yours. May we enter into that sublime stillness through the Monday Night portals of chanting, meditation and good company, again and again and again.