Chapter of the Week: #25 [Archive]

?Just what makes that little old ant, think he can move a rubber tree plant??

Well, it?s something do.

Speaking of making mountains out of mole hills, I am reminded of an old Chinese fable that dates from the Warring States Period (403-221 BC), about an old man and a mountain (the story mind you, not the old man himself!). It seems that this old guy, who was reported to about 90 years old at the time, got up one morning and decided that he needed to get rid of a couple mountains because they blocked the view from the front of his house. What he thought he?d see beyond the mountains of course is another story altogether, but one would imagine, just like the bear, it would have been the other side of the mountain. Anyhow, rather than scowling indefinitely in their direction and hoping they?d fade away on their own, he took matters into his own hands and hopped to it. He gathered his family, passed out the shovels, and said, ?Follow me.? God bless him, he was going to make mole hills out of mountains. Day in and day out, he and his sons shoveled away. Now, as you might imagine, it was rather a big job, and as the years went by, it seemed that they were hardly making a dent. It was around this time that he earned the nickname, ?the Foolish Old Man.? One day, after this had been going on for some years, a fella known as ?the Wise Old Man? was passing by, and naturally couldn?t resist admonishing the foolish old man with regard to fruitlessness of his enterprise. The Foolish Old Man, leaned on his shovel, and replied, ?Well, lookie here now, even if I died today, at least the mountain will be a little shorter that when I started, and perhaps if my descendents keep at it for another 100 generations or so, who?s to say they won?t succeed in the end? Besides, what have I got to lose? Just, a couple of mountains, by my estimate.?

Now, of course, the moral of the story is that though your tasks are many and your rewards are few, remember the mighty oak was once a nut like you. That?s a joke, son. No, the real moral of the story is that if you need to do something, for whatever reason (even symptomatic ones), no matter how daunting it may seem, if you?re even going to have half a chance, you do have to start somewhere. This is a rather long way of getting around to your original point, and there is a cop out ending to the story, where the heavens were so moved by the foolish old man?s dedication that a couple of angels were sent down to carry the mountains away in blink of eye, but you know how I just like to go on and on. Anyhow, trying to move a mountain is something to do, and I would imagine, not bad exercise.

With regard to the Taoist/Chi book, people do need hobbies and if they happen to latch on to this or that as a way of justifying their hobbies, well, they could be worse off. Now, naturally, not having actually read this book that your friend sent you 8) , I cannot speak to this particular author?s intentions. From your report, I have no doubt that he had propensity for laying on a bit thick. On the other hand, if his hobby is selling books, he perhaps saw the Taoist tie-in as a sure thing. ?Say, I won?t only show you how to exercise and live forever, I?ll tell you the secret of life itself!? Surely he wasn?t serious. It?s just his way of having fun. Some people do have fun hoodwinking others (and thereby selling more books, which is even more fun). As long as we get the joke, all is fine.

If some folks actively seek the way, and are have high old time actively seeking it, are they not having fun? One must have fun where one finds it. I quite agree with you that everyone should have fun or at least give it a try. Even if, or perhaps better, just because the world spins around us wildly out of control. Artur Schnabel considered himself to be ?an active fatalist.? Then of course there was the Mrs. Kissel, whom Jean Shepherd described as ?the type of woman who would have been playing the piano while the Titanic was sinking.?

Oh, and by the way, have fun.


  • edited January 2006
    Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. Chapter 25 was originally featured on the 4th week in January, 2006.

    Note: The Tao Te Ching can be obscure, especially if you think you're supposed to understand what it's saying! We find it easier and more instructive to simply contemplate how the chapter resonates with your personal experience. Becoming more aware at this fundamental level simplifies life. This approach conforms to the view that true knowing lies within ourselves. Thus, when a passage in the scripture resonates, you've found your inner truth. The same applies for when it evokes a question; questions are the grist for self realization.

    Chapter 25
    There is a thing confusedly formed,
    Born before heaven and earth.
    Silent and void
    It stands alone and does not change,
    Goes round and does not weary.
    It is capable of being the mother of the world.
    I know not its name
    So I style it 'the way'.

    I give it the makeshift name of 'the great'.
    Being great, it is further described as receding,
    Receding, it is described as far away,
    Being far away, it is described as turning back.

    The way is great; heaven is great;
    earth is great; and the king is also great.
    Within the realm there are four things that are great,
    and the king counts as one.

    Man models himself on earth,
    Earth on heaven,
    Heaven on the way,
    And the way on that which is naturally so.
  • edited December 1969
    [Note: I italicize phrases I borrow from the chapter, and link to phrases I borrow from other chapters to help tie chapters together. While making it more tedious to read, :? the Tao Te Ching is best pondered in the context of the whole.]

    What an enticing way to speak to the [chref=1]mystery[/chref]. Just saying to myself, "It's all a mystery" takes all the 'mystery' out of it by being so clear and direct. The 'label' murders the mystery. The same goes for the word "[chref=4]God[/chref]", and everything else as well I suppose.

    I now recognize this silent and void, stands alone and does not change, as my 'home base' of consciousness I 'see' when my emotions are [chref=45]empty[/chref]. This 'home' is where I dwell, and from where I venture out to interact in the world. I should say, our 'home base' rather than my, for it is the [chref=56]same[/chref] in you, in me, in all... always. It is 'the way' to immortality (Taoists are big on immortality you know :wink: ).

    This 'home' has not changed from as far back as I can recall - it is a 'self silence' which is ever the same. It was also a 'boring' place for much of my life, and yet, ironically, it was the place of [chref=38]highest virtue[/chref] to which I aspired to [chref=14]return[/chref].

    Simply, I longed to [chref=40]turn back[/chref] to where I unwittingly was - already and always. How could I [chref=28]return to being the uncarved block[/chref], when I couldn't be anything other? [chref=71]Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty[/chref] sure exemplifies my 'understanding' then - and even to this day. Now, though, I more often [chref=23]conform[/chref] to that which is naturally so. Accepting the fact that 'I' have no 'free will', even that 'I' doesn't exist, makes this much [chref=64]easier [/chref].

    For me, all this is [chref=70]very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice[/chref], and yet it isn't. Why? As long as we look for the 'grass that is greener', it's impossible to see the grass here and now. In short, our 'problem' is perceptual, yet we struggle to solve it by way of [chref=43]action[/chref]. :roll:
  • edited December 1969
    "It's all a mystery" takes all the 'mystery' out of it by being so clear and direct. The 'label' murders the mystery.

    Saying it's all a mystery assuages my left-minded brain and allows it to take a break.

    When I was younger, I was trying to figure it all out. Problem was I didn't know what "it" was. It helped me to allow for "it" to be a mystery I would never figure out because it allowed my analytical mind to go back to sleep.

    The mystery is more felt, experienced, than thought of and is alive and well no matter what we "say." If I had had the power to murder the mystery I would have jumped off a bridge by now.

    But I know what you mean... :shock:
Sign In or Register to comment.