Here’s this week’s reading from Tao Te Ching:
Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.
Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is the highest value.
If peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but humans like himself.
He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?
He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.
Although this verse seems intended for political leaders, you might apply it to yourself: what tools of violence and fear do you use against yourself and people with whom you come in contact. This was the gist of our conversation in class. I encourage you to sit with it, applying the criteria of “decent man” to your own ways of being. Along with this reading, I told a story I first learned from the Buddhist meditation teacher Pema Chodron, the story of Milarepa in the Cave. Since I’m a few weeks backed up on posting, I’ll post this story another time…