September 20, 2010

I found this week’s verse from the Tao Te Ching particularly relevant to these times…


Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men
doesn’t try to force issues
or defeat enemies by force of arms.
For every force there is a counterforce.
Violence, even well intentioned,
always rebounds upon itself.

The Master does his job
and then stops.
He understands that the universe
is forever out of control,
and that trying to dominate events
goes against the currency of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
he doesn’t try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
he doesn’t need others’ approval.
because he accepts himself,
the whole world accepts him.

This is a small portion of a much larger work from the first century Chinese Zen master, Seng-Ts’an.

The Mind of Absolute Trust

The Great Way isn’t difficult for those who are unattached to their preferences.
Let go of longing and aversion, and everything will be perfectly clear,
When you cling to a hairbreadth of distinction, heaven and earth are set apart.
If you want to realize the truth, don’t be for or against.
The struggle between good and evil is the primal disease of the mind.
Not grasping the deeper meaning, you just trouble your mind’s serenity.
As vast as infinite space, it is perfect and lacks nothing.
But because you select and reject, you can’t perceive its true nature.
Don’t get entangled in the world; don’t lose yourself in emptiness.
Be at peace in the oneness of things, and all errors will disappear by themselves.

And now, for a lighter touch, two teaching stories. The first is told in  many traditions. The setting and characters may change, but the moral is eternal. This is the how Baba Muktananda liked to tell it:

Once there was a holy man who lived on the bank of a river. Nearby lived a milkmaid to whom he had given the mantra. Every day, she would bring him milk. One day the river flooded. She stood on the bank wondering how she could take him his milk. Then she remembered, “When my guru gave me the mantra he said, ‘You can go across the ocean of existence by repeating this mantra.’ And this is only a river.” So she closed her eyes, repeating the mantra with great faith, and walked across the water. The guru was in his room. She knocked on the door and called, “Babaji, open the door, I have milk for you.”

“How did you get here?” he asked.

“Don’t you know? When you gave me the mantra you said that if I repeated it, I would go across the ocean. This was just a small stream.”

When he heard this, the sadhu became swollen with pride. “What a state I must have attained if even my milkmaid can walk on water with my mantra!” A few days later, he had to go to town. Once again the river was flooded. He stood on the bank, wondering what to do. Then he remembered proudly, “Because of my mantra, the milkmaid crossed the river.” He began to repeat it, stepped into the river, and sank like a stone.

And the final word goes to Sheik Nasrudin:

A man borrowed some money from Nasrudin who assumed he would never get it back, but loaned it anyway. Much to his surprise, the loan was promptly repaid. Nasrudin was unhappy. Some time later the man asked for another loan saying, “You know my credit is good, I have repaid you in the past.” “Not this time, you scoundrel!” roared Nasrudin. “You deceived me the last time when I thought you would not return the money. You won’t get away with it a second time.”

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