The Way of Tao

Yin and yang blue

Image via Wikipedia

“The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.”

-Lao-Tzu

To reflect on Taoism, I thought it would be fitting to return to the beginning. In the beginning, we learn that Tao called Tao, is not Tao. It seems this is the case because the Tao is everything, so any one thing that is called Tao could only be a part of Tao. This makes sense because Tao isn’t a point or destination, but the way.

Moving further along the way, we learn that names can name no lasting name. I like this because it hints at the potential for continued growth. A baby is born, becomes a child, then an adolescent, an adult, and finally an elder. Context changes the name.

Nameless: The origin of Heaven and Earth. This context reveals what I believe to be the original yin yang. It existed before naming. Through naming: the mother of ten thousand things, we distance ourselves from Heaven and Earth, becoming ten thousand splinters of Heaven and earth—still part of the same whole, just with spaces between.

When we empty ourselves of desire, we perceive mystery because we have no desire to know. When we never know what to expect of these mysteries, we are kept in a state of ziran. When we are filled with desire, we perceive manifestations. Dynamic desires produce mysterious manifestations, also keeping us in a state of ziran. Perhaps this is why they are deep and again deep—our desires, or lack thereof, are the gateway to mystery. We always perceive, it is just a question of what we will perceive.

That we will never know.

By being in tune with nature, we all walk our own way. Each way is important because it returns ten thousand splinters to the wholeness of Heaven and Earth.

We are Tao.

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LETTER TO ALL

 

 

 

“The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

The only known photograph of Chief Seattle, ta...

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Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.

We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family.

The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each glossy reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.

The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness that you would give any brother.

If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us,

that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.

Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

One thing we know: our God is also your God. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.

Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

When the last red man has vanished with this wilderness, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left?

We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it, as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land for all children, and love it, as God loves us.

As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you.

One thing we know – there is only one God. No man, be he Red man or White man, can be apart. We ARE all brothers after all.”

 

 

 

-Chief Seathl

Yet again, humbled by nature.

“And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

William Shakespeare

Rain was the curtain, lifted to reveal nature’s awe-inspiring stage–an act that eclipsed performers and audience alike.

The setting of the performance was Conley Bottom, one of the many marinas at Lake Cumberland. Golden rays of the sweet summer sun warmed waves of water that would be blown by blissful breezes into the enchanted, earth-lined shores. The lake would impart on me these characteristics, warming my heart and granting it the freedom needed to be carried to an enchanted shore.

Nature inspires me. It has a way of paradoxically blending simplicities and complexities with ease. A complicated design with a seemingly simple program:

Operating harmoniously on every scale.

Haha, funny how when I put it like that, it doesn’t sound simple at all. Even when I get close, discord eventually pushes me away. Perhaps we need to take a lesson from nature and abolish the sentiment of man standing apart from nature. Even the rock that breaks away from the mountainside is still a part of the mountain. The only difference is that it has been gifted with its own form, and a new perspective.

Man stands as a part of, not apart from, nature.

And I’m small. I am a little pea.

Quote Preservation

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

-Mark Twain

For a stockpile of quotes organized by topic, check out Feed Your Mind.

Time lapse

More than anything I just need to know that the unimaginable is possible.

A grand adventure is yours unique, if you decide that’s what you seek. I take a peek where my dog would sleep, a tiny corner by the door, still I have room to scribble more. I wait for the thoughts no more than before, to take me away to another shore. My feet sink in as the tides begin, stealing the sand as though my toes won’t know.

Time is spilling through the glass, but never does it spill the last. A million a grain to mark the past, creating a mountain whose shadow is cast. Through the glass containing it all, the future arrives while watching it fall.

We see time end, and turn it again.

Time to hit the hammock

This is likely to be a short entry. I’m getting ready to leave my parent’s farm in Georgetown and head back to what is becoming an increasingly empty apartment. The space that had been occupied by an eclectic assortment of “stuff” has been replaced by just as many memories. Enough memories to spill out into the streets, just as we always did. By the end of the month we will essentially erase any evidence of our three years there. Our walls are tree rings, a new layer of paint for a new life. That same paint preserves the pencil drawn dart board that lies beneath. That makes me smile.

Goodnight moon.

Coming into focus

begin verb \bi-ˈgin, bē-\

1: to do the first part of an action : go into the first part of a process

2: to come into existence : to have a starting point

Choosing to begin something typically makes me nervous. Life is filled with numerous external stimuli that create opportunities to begin, but in those cases, beginning seems more like a response, not a choice.

To choose to begin though, that is freedom. The ability to control when, why, how, where, and what you begin can be very revealing. This also tends to make me feel very vulnerable. It is as if I expect the world to look at what I chose to bring into existence at that moment, and judge how I spend my time.

Part of me hopes it does.

My life was a beginning gifted to me through the actions of another. A reflection of what stood before me, made of the same but with a perspective altered through the looking glass. This idea seems contrary to my previous view on life: “I am writing the story of my life.” This no longer seems accurate.

I am a character in the story of life.

This statement admits that while I control my actions, any direction, tone, or meaning of life rests in the hands of the multitudes. This also begs the question: if we are all co-authoring such a grand piece of literature, who is our audience?

Someone infinite in nature.

A supreme being that reads our story and knows how each individual character is connected to the whole. This being knows that I expect great things of myself and am currently doing nothing to move toward them. My potential is limited only by creating excuses to continue sitting idly in a town with which I have grown too comfortable. Watching the town grow, rather than my self.

It is time for some character development.

On August 30th I will move from my old Kentucky home of  seventeen years to an archipelago in the middle of the Pacific. My hope is that Oahu will give me a greater understanding of aloha so I can share it with the world. Grant me some of your time and I will give you my perspective of a  journey to better understand the story of life and the characters writing it. Maybe along the way I’ll get an opportunity to shake your hand.

Now I have begun.