A Guide For Living
Worth Reading! From Off the Web By: Parker J. Palmer, On Being columnist
The best are like water…
The best, like water,
Benefit all and do not compete.
They dwell in lowly spots that everyone else scorns.
Putting others before themselves,
They find themselves in the foremost place
And come very near to the Tao.
In their dwelling, they love the earth;
In their heart, they love what is deep;
In personal relationships, they love kindness;
In their words, they love truth.
In the world, they love peace.
In personal affairs, they love what is right.
In action, they love choosing the right time.
It is because they do not compete with others
That they are beyond the reproach of the world.
I’ve been drawn to Taoism ever since I read Thomas Merton’s 1965 book, The Way of Chuang Tzu. The teachings of Chuang Tzu — a 4th century BC Chinese Taoist master — introduced me to a spiritual path often called “the watercourse way.”
Taoism counsels us to live our lives like water, but that does not mean “go with the flow” passivity. Taoism is all about nonviolent action. It invites us to flow quietly but persistently around the obstacles that stand between us and the common good, wearing them down as a river erodes boulders.
I don’t think Taoism — or any other wisdom tradition — has the whole answer to living well. Sometimes we must swim upstream against cruelty, injustice and untruth.
But rightly understood, Taoism is an important corrective to the Western obsession with force, even violence, as the way to get things done — which often results in little more than an escalation of violence.
The passage above is from the Taoist master Lao Tzu who names a few of the virtues that come from living “the watercourse way.” They won’t make you rich or famous. But they serve the common good, make life worth living, and help keep hope alive!
Do you ever feel overwhelmed but don’t know why? Or feel “odd” but can’t make sense of it?
Try drawing… nothing in particular, just let the pencil move across the page. Then do another page. Try it using your non-dominant hand – crazy… I know.
But it works! Discover what the infamous Carl Jung did –
Ahhh! Calmed and reassured.
Will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage
Love will surely burst you wide open
Into an unfettered blooming new galaxy
A life-giving radiance will come…
Daniel Ladinsky, a well-known English translator of Hafiz said: “Language when it mingles with spirit does a tremendous service to the world: it empowers and changes lives; it awakens love, valor, and wonder. The words of Hafiz are unique, and they become cherished friends to the heart – for they constantly comfort and free.”
Isn’t life about cherishing all that is? Wisdom teaches me that everything, eventually, can be understood. Learn to be open to all that is happening. Let it “split you open”…
“The Tender Words we spoke
to one another
in the secret vaults of heaven.
One day like rain,
they will fall to earth
and grow green
all over the world.
Look inside and find where a person
loves from. That’s the reality,
not what they say.”