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Monday, July 30, 2012

Achievement

The world is full of achievement. Most people spend their lives seeking to achieve success, wealth, and fame. These are all great things to be sure but they are not the highest achievement.

Almost everyone lives their life alone though they are surrounded by the mass of humanity. Almost everyone has a secret they never share; they spend their life hoping no one guesses what it is. By living in pretense they deny themselves the truth of their achievement.

I never tell anyone that I know their secret. They think I don’t see how weak they are and how confused. I let them pretend they are big and strong; I let them imagine I am soft and feeble. If they think I am as mixed up as they are then they will leave me alone. If I smile just right they believe I am as unhappy as they are.

I was a troublemaker as a child. My parents would send me to church so that I might find salvation but instead of turning left at the fork in the road thereby achieving my goal I would somehow end up turning right to spend my Sunday mornings smoking cigarettes I bought with the money I'd been given for the collection plate while playing pool with the other miscreants at the pool hall.

Of course word trickled back to my folks from my grandfather who missed my shining face in the familiar pew. The following Sunday I would be driven to the church steps with stern words of warning from my folks. But again, instead of turning left into the church I somehow got sidetracked into turning right invariably finding my way back to that smoky old pool hall.

My grandfather came to our house one dire Saturday. He sat me down to talk to me, words of doom and how disaster would follow me the rest of my days lest I repent. He always said I would go to hell for my sins. But I figured when I got there my sins would no longer matter. I wanted to explain that to him but I knew he would never listen. So instead of learning to speak I learned not-speaking.

I talk very little even when spoken to. Those who talk much know little. Of what I know I cannot speak.

By masking my knowledge I simplify my problems. I shield my senses from bright objects of desire and temper the need to possess them. I am at one with the dust, water, fire, sky, and with the wind. This is called original union.

I am unconcerned with friends and with enemies. I am unconcerned with good and harm, with honor and disgrace.

This is called the highest achievement.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Force

My lover hesitates as I tug her towards our bed waiting in darkness and anticipation of delight. She overpowers my desires with a single word: no.

I say I am bored; there is nothing happening. It isn’t because nothing is happening though. It is because I do not think what is happening now has any importance. A desire arises to force the moment into being my vision of it. The moment has become my enemy.

I desire to feel important so I force myself to do things beyond my means. I grow tired and bored with my exertions, however. It is better to keep within my bounds; I let others tired themselves out by breaking themselves against the world.

When others ask for advice I offer it gladly. I have little to offer, however.
Whenever I am asked for advice I always counsel not to use force to conquer an enemy, for this will only cause resistance. Force is always followed by loss of strength. To go against this advice is to come to an early end.

I counsel to achieve results but never to glory in them. I counsel to achieve results but to never boast of them. I counsel to achieve results but never to be proud of them. I counsel to achieve results but never through force. This goes against nature.
I counsel to just do what needs to be done and to never take advantage of power.

This is the way of the universe.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Giving Way

My latest work in progress is tentatively titled The Art of Living: Zen Stories. Although it is comprised of a series of vignettes centered around the Tao te king it can also be read as a novel since all the parts tie into a whole. This chapter is titled Giving Way:

If I get involved with too many people that have too many problems they drag me under the waves of discontent right along beside them. They are unimportant, a waste of time. They interrupt the flow of my life and poke their noses into my business. It is like I am in a movie theater and everyone is talking so I cannot hear the sound; everyone is standing and I cannot see the screen.

But then the floor of the theater gives way; I am alone floating in interstellar space watching this movie I know nothing about. I think what a stupid thing this is; this movie has nothing to do with me. A realization hits that this movie is all there is; I sure as hell better get interested in it; once it stops I stop too.

I recognize I am in the valley of knowing and not in a movie theater at all. The valley of knowing is the meeting place of the universe; the valley of knowing is the mother of the universe. By keeping still the valley gives birth to all things. By knowing stillness I know strength.

I give way to my lover; she lays low in stillness. She overcomes my strength with her gentleness. A strong country that gives way to a weak country will conquer the smaller country. A weak country that submits to a strong country will conquer the strong country.

This is the way of the mystery.

To conquer I must learn to give way; to be conquered I must also learn to give way. A great person desires to be adored. A small person desires to adore. By coming together they each fulfill their desires. It is fitting for a great person to give way.