Friday, August 24, 2007

Wise water

A friend of mine sent this to me. It's from Stephen Mitchell's translation of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching:

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

The philosophy of Lao Tzu (or Lao Zi as it's spelled these days) was all about nature and letting things run their natural courses. He didn't advocate education and striving but instead rooted for a life unencumbered by civilization or society. Of course, we can take what we want of any philosophy (and even religion--not everybody in a congregation believes the exact same thing, let alone members of a denomination) and use it to suit (and shape) our lives.

Take for example, Benjamin Hoff's The Tao of Pooh. Or Star Wars (yeah, the idea of the Force? That's the Tao. The idea that there's still good in a dark and evil figure like Darth Vader? Similarly expressed in the Taoist yin-yang symbol). You don't have to quit school and hop in a VW bus (or better yet, walk barefoot) to be a Taoist, but what you can learn from a philosophy that's based on the wisdom, peace, compassion, and strength of water might well smooth over your rough edges until you're as perfect as a river pebble.

Take care,

I.
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