To Drink, A Horse Must Want To Drink

Discussing tao with people who have never heard of it can be like trying to push water up hill, I try to keep it simple I generally say I am trying to become all I can be through self analysis it’s a bit like (cognitive behaviour therapy) explaining it’s psychological not religious
RD
or it might just be the odour of a riverdog di think (sometimes)

Comments

  • edited October 2012
    You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Folk sayings like this are Taoist thought Western style. Another one, A stitch in time saves nine has a direct parallel, [chref=64]It is easy to maintain a situation while it is still secure[/chref], and so on. Back to the horse...

    I can't think of any exact parallels to the "lead a horse to water" except maybe, [chref=70] My words are very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice, yet no one in the world can understand them or put them into practice[/chref] and so forth. How is it that the words are easy to understand, yet no one understands them?

    It is a question of interest. Regardless of how easy something is to understand, or how available water is to a horse, there must an interest in drinking it in. I can think of countless examples, but will recount one of the most telling for me.

    To mark time during my daily headstand (yoga), I've recited Buddha's Four Noble Truths for years now. Beside marking time, it offers me a succinct reminder of my life's ideal priorities. The problem has always been how to convert the ideal into the real! I can say unequivocally now after forty some years of doing this, that it all boils down to interest (i.e., need, desire, motivation). I have 'understood' the issue all along, yet I find that I only truly understand the issue in proportion to my depth of interest. In an odd way, understanding is a living thing, and depth of interest is its life's blood. Without interest, understanding is dead understanding... mere knowledge.

    Interests and desires distract us from our long term priorities and seduce us into [chref=53]by-paths[/chref]. Being interested in avoiding interesting by-paths is like [chref=64]desiring not to desire[/chref]. To be free, one must want to be free. To drink water, a horse must want to drink.
  • edited December 1969
    Well, as we 'catch up with our tail' of the chapters where you seemed to commit yourself to it,
    may i say on behalf of all us centertao readers that we are very pleased that you have had the interest to continue with your weekly translations of the TTC.
    Initially you left your translations as [chref=21]indistinct[/chref] and [chref=17]shadowy[/chref] as you could, tho after a while you gave us some more 'quotable/memorable' interpretations as well as the literal.
    I have found these insightful ponderings so far-[chref=34]reaching[/chref] and resonant that they lead us back to and inspire such a sense of awe with barely any attempt from you to make them beautiful and [chref=81]persuasive[/chref].
    We will do our best to let these [chref=3]valuable[/chref] treasures only lead us to impartiality ;-)
    As the chapters fly by i wonder if at some point you will also let the dust settle on one accumulative interpretation to leave us thirsty horses.

    Do i hear a YeeeHAAA :!: :!: :!:
  • edited December 1969
    [cite] TheNowSeeker:[/cite]
    As the chapters fly by i wonder if at some point you will also let the dust settle on one accumulative interpretation to leave us thirsty horses.
    I wonder, would “one accumulative interpretation” be like pushing a round peg through a square hole? Perhaps I don’t exactly know what you mean.

    Now, try as I did, I found nothing debatable in your post. (Except maybe for “with barely any attempt from you to make them beautiful and [chref=81]persuasive[/chref].” I’d say any attempt to make the words beautiful is way beyond my ability. :P)

    I deeply appreciate the fact that my ponderings resonate well with you. That says to me that our mind’s eyes are connected. We are both ‘channeling’ Lao Tzu. Being a rather [chref=39]'solitary', 'desolate', and 'hapless'[/chref] fellow, I love the company.
  • edited December 1969
    I wonder, would “one accumulative interpretation” be like pushing a round peg through a square hole? Perhaps I don’t exactly know what you mean.

    I guess i was trying to find the right words of asking you if you think you would ever consider publishing or 'submitting' - Tao Te Ching translation by Carl Abbott 200?
    I'm really enjoying seeing your 'this year's take' on the same chapters and perhaps you might one day boil it down to a 'take' you could feel comfortable 'giving' and signing your name to. Tough call. We dont want to look like we think we know :oops: or appear that we think that we have somehow got the constant nailed.. (i.e the Tao Te Ching that can be translated is not the constant Tao Te Ching)
    People will indeed see it how they need to see it, which for some traditionalists will be irritating, and for some humbling as it high-lights their own desire to keep the font familiar. Your phrasing is more silently ecumenical than any written communication i've seem. Surely its worth throwing a few copies out there from a heritic like you who cant keep his mouth shut. :lol: and let them kick off a 'Tao-down' if they must. Cross pollination is another of nature's ways to have fun.
    I presently still ping-pong about even posting here at all ... shall i? shall i not? after all 'one who knows does not post..write..etc'
    There seem to be a lot of Center Tao readers who must know a lot :wink:
  • edited December 1969
    [cite] TheNowSeeker:[/cite]
    I wonder, would “one accumulative interpretation” be like pushing a round peg through a square hole? Perhaps I don’t exactly know what you mean.
    I guess i was trying to find the right words of asking you if you think you would ever consider publishing or 'submitting' - Tao Te Ching translation by Carl Abbott 200?
    Being the ‘go with the flow’ fatalist I’ve become, I figure what ever will be will be… ‘que sera, sera’. The main problem would lie in the finality of “one accumulative interpretation”. All I am doing is simply writing down my current observations. Each time I ‘tune in’, I see another part of the elephant. How fortunate we have this internet now where I can post my views of the elephant over the years, and have them available to anyone who wants without cutting down any trees.

    Your right about “cross pollination being another of nature's ways to have fun”. Perhaps one day I’ll sort and consolidate this stuff and make a print-your-self PDF. I do have to keep a low profile you know. After all, you know what ‘they’ do to heretics!
    The Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant (the original version from the Buddhist canon)

    A number of disciples went to the Buddha and said, "Sir, there are living here in Savatthi many wandering hermits and scholars who indulge in constant dispute, some saying that the world is infinite and eternal and others that it is finite and not eternal, some saying that the soul dies with the body and others that it lives on forever, and so forth. What, Sir, would you say concerning them?"

    The Buddha answered, "Once upon a time there was a certain raja who called to his servant and said, 'Come, good fellow, go and gather together in one place all the men of Savatthi who were born blind... and show them an elephant.' 'Very good, sire,' replied the servant, and he did as he was told. He said to the blind men assembled there, 'Here is an elephant,' and to one man he presented the head of the elephant, to another its ears, to another a tusk, to another the trunk, the foot, back, tail, and tuft of the tail, saying to each one that that was the elephant.

    "When the blind men had felt the elephant, the raja went to each of them and said to each, 'Well, blind man, have you seen the elephant? Tell me, what sort of thing is an elephant?'

    "Thereupon the men who were presented with the head answered, 'Sire, an elephant is like a pot.' And the men who had observed the ear replied, 'An elephant is like a winnowing basket.' Those who had been presented with a tusk said it was a ploughshare. Those who knew only the trunk said it was a plough; others said the body was a grainery; the foot, a pillar; the back, a mortar; the tail, a pestle, the tuft of the tail, a brush.

    "Then they began to quarrel, shouting, 'Yes it is!' 'No, it is not!' 'An elephant is not that!' 'Yes, it's like that!' and so on, till they came to blows over the matter.

    "Brethren, the raja was delighted with the scene.

    "Just so are these preachers and scholars holding various views blind and unseeing.... In their ignorance they are by nature quarrelsome, wrangling, and disputatious, each maintaining reality is thus and thus."

    Then the Exalted One rendered this meaning by uttering this verse of uplift

    O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
    For preacher and monk the honored name!
    For, quarreling, each to his view they cling.
    Such folk see only one side of a thing.
  • This is a very fine parable and one can learn a lot from it:

    There is only one truth (the elephant) and many blind guys searching for it but find different answers.

    But most interesting for me seems to be the intention of the raja (who knows the truth) who let gather blind guys (which don't know the truth - and may not want to find the truth) and forces them to a game by investigating predefined and differnt parts of the elephant for each one.

    On the one hand: How would one treat such a game? More: how would one treat such a game inventor?
    Is he a great pedagog bringing blinds to seeing? Or just only another blind person's guide having lots of fun about the struggeling of the blinds?

    But on the other hand it may be useful giving predefined parts of the truth to different individuals which one can call initiating teamwork on investigations - but this the parabel tells don't takes place because they don't took their investigations together to one experience because of their quarrelsome nature.

    Thats the main treasure of this parable for me: the quarrelsome nature (egoism) detains them from seeing the truth.

    It turns out: the superficial statement seems to be that guys that don't know the real truth (the blind) are ending in useless discussions and lead their scholars into the desert - but a deeper insvestigation would tell them how they can reach enlightment: get together, forget about egoism and collect your wisdom by taking the answer of your neighbour for more serious as your own and than put all together.

    Here only the question remains: is the quarrelsome nature (egoism) by accident and final or by design of a really good pedagog who gives it to his scholars for the purpose of advancement?
  • That's the main treasure of this parable for me: the quarrelsome nature (egoism) detains them from seeing the truth. It turns out: the superficial statement seems to be that guys that don't know the real truth (the blind) are ending in useless discussions and lead their scholars into the desert - but a deeper investigation would tell them how they can reach enlightenment: get together, forget about egoism and collect your wisdom by taking the answer of your neighbour for more serious as your own and than put all together.

    Here only the question remains: is the quarrelsome nature (egoism) by accident and final or by design of a really good pedagog who gives it to his scholars for the purpose of advancement?

    I can see where our views diverge. Like most folks, you seem to believe that some people are 'enlightened' (i.e., 'enlightenment' is real). Of course, that depends upon on your definition of 'enlightenment'. If you define it as a rare phenomenon, then I'd say your version is an illusion. This myth, like most, is a comforting story we like to hear. If we believe it, we can feel at least someone knows what is going on (be that Buddha, Christ, Lao Tzu, or who ever). Personally I'm quite comfortable with the sense that no one knows.

    This blind men parable for me depicts that fact. We [chref=71]think[/chref] we see the whole picture because what we see is all we see. On the other hand, if we don't think this, we think an 'enlightened' someone else must, and they will help lead us (being a social species we are desperate for 'alpha male' leadership).

    The only difference between us and other animals is our clever brain and it's ability to think, combined with a superbly opposable thumb. Our species centric emotion drives thought to think we are a unique 'made in God's image' creature. And who determines this superior view? We, the vary species who claim the special status.

    This is like a beauty pageant put on by family where the only contestant is the daughter, and the family votes and judges the daughter 'Miss Universe'.

    I am amazed that the self serving high opinion we have of ourselves is not seen for what it is. Of course, I know why, I suppose. If everyone tells you how great you are, why would you want to question that and see the ulterior motives (species centric instinct) that drives the flattery?

    I've no doubt that if ducks, or any other species could think as we do, they would think up their own 'special creation myth' which put them at the top of life's pyramid. That we see ourselves in the context of an evolutionary pyramid, with us at the top, is an emergent property arising out of our hierarchical social instinct.
  • Carl I am in total agreement with "I have ‘understood’ the issue all along, yet I find that I only truly understand the issue in proportion to my depth of interest. In an odd way, understanding is a living thing, and depth of interest is its life’s blood. Without interest, understanding is dead understanding — mere knowledge". I am a high school math and science tutor, how do you get a student "interested" in a subject they are failing, like math and science! I get so discouraged, even though I know ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’ . What bothers me the most is that I know this kid(s) is going to have a really rough time making a living. It is easy for me, I am retired, but these kids that are failing will be taking care of me! This must be my instant KARMA. lol What saves me is nonattachment.
  • Hi Allandnone,

    Perhaps the greater problem is a lack of 'nose to the grindstone' approach to life. Diligence makes up for a lot of one's inability. Although, if one isn't interested in being diligent... Interest and diligence are connected, but perhaps not in any particular subject, like science, history, etc. Perhaps it is a social connection. When a 'work ethic' is missing, one can't make the most of any innate ability or interest. Oh well, just musing.

    My typing fingers are still itching so I'll muse some more:

    I suspect now that one must know in order to understand. That also implies that know and interest are mysteriously the same. And need is right in there as well. Need=interest=knowing=talent. These are all either one and the same, or interrelated and additive.

    Attempting to expand the word 'non-attachment' helps me know it a little deeper. For example, acknowledging the supremacy of nature's way over what I desire is 'non-attachment'. In other words, what is takes precedence over what any ideals, what could be for which my emotions are pushing. I suppose instant karma is the suffering we feel when our ideals conflict with that which is naturally so. Of course, that conflict is 'naturally so', so suffering is part of the process. Resisting the process just adds to that. Of course, that is also 'naturally so'. There is just no way to end up with a reality that is less than perfect. Alas, my emotions have no mind and so can't see the perfection my mind's eye can conjure up.
Sign In or Register to comment.