Sunday, May 22, 2016

Thoughts on the Tao Te Ching 64

Poem 64

What is rooted is easy to nourish.
What is recent is easy to correct.
What is brittle is easy to break.
What is small is easy to scatter.

Prevent trouble before it arises.
Put things in order before they exist.
The giant pine tree
grows from a tiny sprout.
The journey of a thousand miles
starts from beneath your feet.

Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe.

Therefore the Master takes action
by letting things take their course.
He remains as calm
at the end as at the beginning.
He has nothing,
thus has nothing to lose.
What he desires is non-desire;
what he learns is to unlearn.
He simply reminds people
of who they have always been.
He cares about nothing but the Tao.
Thus he can care for all things.


Modern building, Milan, Easter, 2016

At the risk of boring the reader let me repeat what I have said here in this sequence of posts many times.  One concept I have underlined before is that of the psychological concept of flow as proposed by the Hungarian psychologist Mihály Csikszentmihályi.  Flow is a central concept in positive psychology, and it is also known as the zone.  Children can far more readily enter this zone than we adults because they are closer to their hearts and to their intuition that we adults are.  We adults are far more likely to be locked in the world of logic and intellect.  Flow or the zone is the mental state or that state of being where the person doing some action or activity is fully immersed in his/her experience of the moment, and is fully energized and well focused on the task at hand.  Flow is characterized by complete absorption in what is being experienced.  

In a sense, what the above amounts to is an appreciation for the quality of living and being in the now of experience, of going with the natural flow of life, by doing everything that is not using and abusing energy by pushing against its natural flow.  It is in this sense that we read our first stanza above:

What is rooted is easy to nourish.
What is recent is easy to correct.
What is brittle is easy to break.
What is small is easy to scatter.

Milan Cathedral, Easter 2016
The second stanza is about very much being prepared and proactive, of planning out things in a natural way, consistent with the flow of life, of living and of being.  In this stanza we read the  often quoted line that "the journey of a thousand miles" begins with our taking the first step now. 

Stanza three makes for good sound wisdom.  Forcing an item into a space it will not naturally fit into will distort or break the item.  Pushing one another in a queue for a bus or train will certainly not improve matters - indeed, it will most likely slow the loading of the bus down and actually delay the departure time, and perhaps even result in injury to some one.  Rushing into things never helps, while doing things mindfully certainly will. 

When we meet spiritually advanced people, no matter what their overt religious or even non-religious affiliation, the striking characteristic we notice is that of equanimity, calmness, peace of mind and a sense of deep attention to living in the now.  We are singularly blessed when we meet these beacons of hope and peace in our lives.

Let us read the above poem reflectively and mindfully once again and let any line or phrase offer itself to us by way of a short meditation to begin our day with the goal of being present to all whom we meet and most essentially to our own self.

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