The Tao that can be spoken of is not the eternal Tao.
I stand speechless at the rocks' edge. The sunset bleeds along the horizon and up into orange clouds hovering above the water. Here, one hundred feet above the shore, the waves battering the rocks below fill my head. The wind whistles past my ears. Gusts threaten to topple me back against the sand and scrub hiding in my shadow.
Tears blur my vision. Is it the wind in my eyes? The sun? The waves? Maybe it's my mind that clouds my vision. My heart knows, but cannot speak.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
"And you are?"The woman in the horn-rimmed glasses is not happy with her job.
"Jim. Jim Schmidt,"I blurt out.
"OK, Mr. Smith. You sit over there until your name is called."My eyes follow the line drawn by her finger to a worn collection of folding chairs at the back of the room.
I join the others. No one wants to speak. I stare at the floor for thirty minutes.
"Mr. Smith! Jim Smith!-
"It's Schmidt,"I say to anyone who wants to hear.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
So tiny. So pink. So beautiful.
After 22 hours of labor; she enters the world to "oohs"and "ahhs."Dazed, I hold the scissors where the doctors show me. I can hardly bring myself to to cut the cord. I hold back the lump in my throat as blue liquid oozes from the stump.
After a flurry of motion, she's in my lap. My throat tightens. I see my future in her dark eyes. She cries out. There is no past or future - only now.
So tiny. So pink. So beautiful.
The name is the mother of ten thousand things.
deity, divinity, daemon, demigod, Demogorgon, Hypnos, Morpheus, Boddhisatva, Bodhisattva, Arhant, Arhat, Demiurge, Quetzalcoatl, Supreme Being, Allah, Almighty, Creator, Divine, God Almighty, Godhead, Lord, Maker, Jehovah, Jahvey, Jahweh, Jehovah, JHVH, Wahvey, Yahve, Yahveh, Yahwe, Yahweh, YHVH, YHWH, dibbuk, dybbuk, dickens, deuce, fiend, ogre, demon, monster, incubus, succuba, succubus, Beelzebub, Lucifer, Old Nick, Prince of Darkness, Satan, the Devil, the Tempter, hypostasis, Blessed Trinity, Holy Trinity, Sacred Trinity, Devi, Krishna, Ganesh, Hanuman, Lakshmi, Indra, Surya, Agni, Vayu, Varuna, Yama, Kubera, Soma, Mitra, Kama, Gayatri, Aditi, Ushas, Sarasvati, Rudra, supernatural being, immortal, spiritual being.
Send your desires away and you will see the mystery.
She carefully placed the last of her things into the cardboard box on the bedroom floor. Sealing it with packing tape, she felt a huge weight lift from her shoulders. Pausing a moment, she looked around the room. Drawers jutted from the dresser like accusing tongues. Scattered bits of paper and dust balls littered to hardwood floor where the rug once lay. The lamp on the empty desk drew stark shadows on the walls.
There was a sudden Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœpop' in her ears. Everything seemed clearer; more vibrant. She was free.
Be filled with desires and you will only see the manifestation.
"But, I just had it!"Sally was upset.
"We'll find it."I tried to calm her.
"I bought that necklace for tonight's dinner with your mother.-
"Mother doesn't care what you have on your neck."That wasn't true. Mother paid attention to anything regarding her only son - including my fiancÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© and her wardrobe.
"But you told me she loves turquoise.-
"I told you she would love the necklace. I didn't tell you to buy it.-
"Well, the evening's ruined!"Sally slammed the car door as we left for Mother's.
As these two come forth they differ in name.
Unable to sleep, Hasan donned his soviet-era parka and slipped into the courtyard for a smoke. The courtyard was bathed in moonlight. He drank in the cold night air, savored the play of shadows on the stones. This would be his last night. Tomorrow he had a date with Allah.
Restless, Harkness paced in front of the barracks. The full moon cast his shadow onto the dirt road behind him. He enjoyed the peace and solitude of night watch duty. But tonight would be his last. He was shipping out tomorrow.
Yet at their source they are the same.
"Stop Abortion Now! Stop Abortion Now!"The protesters continued to march in front of Dr. Margaret Alexander's clinic throughout the day. They put up a good show of force, but their bark was worse than their bite. No one was prevented from entering the building so far and only a few visitors were upset by the commotion.
As a gesture of thanks and support for the staff, Margaret decided to treat everyone to lunch from a local fast food restaurant. "What do you think? Should we have chicken or burgers?"she asked.
This source is called a mystery.
Most kids my age suspected that they had been adopted. I only had to look at my oddball parents and idiot brother to be certain. Everything I loved, they either misunderstood or plain hated. My music, clothes, art, books, tofu.
Some kids dreamed of joining the circus. Others wanted to run off to Hollywood. I imagined that a group of traveling Buddhist monks would come to town, seek me out, and greet me in Chinese (which I would understand perfectly) and cart me of to Tibet where I'd live a long and happy life.
Darkness within darkness, the gateway to all mystery.
Some say when you have a near-death experience, you see a white light; that a great peace comes over you. Those who have returned from this adventure had to fight the compulsion to drift toward the light.
Others report an intense fear and loathing. The feeling of impending eternal damnation.
That's not what happened to me. I saw nothing. Felt nothing. Was compelled to do nothing. Instead, I saw just black; nothingness. The void.
I prefer to think of death like that.
If death holds a better existence, why waste time alive?
All under heaven see beauty as beauty only because they also see ugliness.
He sat against the brick wall next to a dented tin cup. He held a small sign that read Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬ËœGOD BLES YOU' in shaky handwriting. It was a prime spot. Lots of foot traffic.
Others tried to muscle in on his territory, but he always fought them off. Usually, it only took a dirty look. Sometimes, he had to resort to yelling obscenities. Once, he got into a brawl with a woman trying to sell paper flowers. She beat the crap out of him, but left anyway.
All announce that good is good only because they also denounce what is bad.
I've worked very hard to eliminate discernment from my mind; to remove bias, favoritism, and preference in all things. The notion of lust, desire, even hunger and thirst are now foreign to me.
It was not easy - it has taken a long time and great effort. Now, when I see a beautiful woman, I no longer imagine her tender touch, the smell of her hair, her melodic voice. Instead, I see another traveler, another sentient being, struggling to eek out an existence on this earthly plane.
Therefore, something and nothing give birth to one another.
Until she met him, her life was a void. It was by chance that she got a ticket to the concert from a sick friend. And, in what she believed was divine intervention, it was the winning ticket that gave her access to the band's after party.
He was the drummer. Though unkempt and unpopular, she saw something of herself in him. He saw everything in her eyes. That night, they resolved to escape to the mountains. They live there still, tending sheep and giving visitors tours of the valley below.
Difficult and easy complete one another.
When they married thirty years ago, he usually worked hard to convince her of the correctness in his point of view. Sometimes this led to long-running battles that lasted not days but weeks.
Now, he simply made his point and left it at that. Usually, she would disregard his remarks and forge ahead anyway. Most times this worked out fine. In the rare cases where her choices led to a mess, he never threw it back at her. Instead, he just kissed her on the forehead and said he loved her; which was true.
Long and short fashion one another.
"If I don't get this stuff down to theater in time, Randy will be upset."Jeremy tossed the last of the clothes into his bag and hurried out the door to the taxi.
"Where is that little runt?"Randy peered out the dressing room door toward the backstage entrance. Although they had been living together for four years, Randy wasn't sure if this relationship was Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœthe real thing.' His acting career was really taking off now and Randy was not sure Jeremy had what it takes to live the life of a celebrity couple.
High and low arise from one another.
"And finally, without Hell, there could be no Heaven."Susan looked me in the eyes as she finished her rebuttal.
"So what you're saying...,"I enjoyed our lively arguments. "Is that any effort to eliminate evil is futile?
"No,"she groaned. "You've missed the point entirely. What I'm saying is that Hell and Heaven are linked.-
"So, any reduction of evil in the world will result in a corresponding reduction on goodness. Eliminate Hell and you'll destroy Heaven, too!-
Then she hugged me and gave me a loving kiss on the cheek.
Notes and tones harmonize with one another.
Back in my college days, I would sometimes go down into the basement of the campus music building where there could be found row upon row of tiny practice rooms.
Each cubicle had a piano, a music stand, and a small window in the door that allowed passers-by to peer in and taunt the occupants.
The random mix of melodies and rhythms that spilled into the hallway could be deafening.
To most, it was noise.
To me, it was a symphony written in the here and now by composers living in the moment.
Front and back follow one another.
"Hell no!"I could hardly hear Edward through the thick fur of the costume. "No way I'm spending the entire evening in here! I can't breathe!-
He pulled backward and disengaged the Velcro of the suit. From the distance, it looked as if someone was tearing a pony in two - Solomon style.
I lifted the horse head from my shoulders and turned to face Edward.
"Look man, it's hard to breathe in this thing, too."I replied.
"You've got nuthin' to bitch about,"he countered. "You ain't going to the party as the ass-end!-
Thus, the True Person acts without striving and teaches without words.
Today at rush hour, a drunk stumbled onto our subway car. He toppled into a couple women and they fell onto the deck of the train. A teenager swore at the man and shoved him. Angry, the drunk pulled a knife from his jacket and waved it wildy.
Then a small elderly man stood up and put his arm around the drunk. Their eyes met briefly and both began to sob. Without saying a thing, they sat down and consoled each other the rest of the trip.
Deny nothing to the ten thousand things.
My wife and I were relaxing for the evening. I was reading the paper; she was engrossed in her novel. Sheridan was in his room sleeping - we thought.
CRASH! The sound of porcelain shattering on the kitchen floor rang through the house. We jumped from our seats and ran to the kitchen. There in the center of the floor was Sheridan with his hand, gripping a cookie, in what remained of the jar.
"Sheridan Joseph! Did you break that?"My wife scolded.
"Uh-uh,"replied Sheridan shaking is head side-to-side. "It just fell.-
Nourish them without claiming authority
"After everything I've done for you, this is how you repay me?"
Randal turned away from his father. "Dad,"he pleaded. "I want to do this on my own. Can't you understand?-
"I understand it plenty,"his Dad snapped. "But, you know. I can't trust anyone else to run the company when I retire.-
"But I don't want to run the company, Dad."Randal knew it was useless.
"Son, becoming a teacher is just a phase.-
Randal felt the weight of his father's arm across his shoulders.
"You'll learn to love this company. You'll see.-
Benefit them without demanding gratitude
I picked up the last of the toys and began wrapping it up. Once I was done, I placed it with the others at the corner of the table. They looked so pretty; so inviting.
"Dad, who gets all these toys?-
"You know, pumpkin,"he replied sweeping me up and giving me a hug. "We take them to the orphanage at the edge of town.-
"But I never get to see the children open the presents.-
"That's the idea."He set me down and kissed me on the forehead. "You'll understand when you get older.-
Do the work, then move on.
"Seventy, Eighty, Ninety, One Hundred,"Simon pushed the wad of bills into Pedro's calloused hand.
"Muchas Gracias, senor."Pedro stuffed the money in his pocket and nodded to Simon. "Everything is packed into the truck. We will leave in the morning, senor.-
"Just be sure to clean up the hut before you leave."Simon hated it when migrants left his huts a mess.
"I'll never understand you people,"Simon told Pedro. "Why don't you settle down somewhere?-
"There is no work here, Mr. Simon. We have to keep moving.-
"I'll never understand you people.-
And, the fruits of your labour will last forever.
After twenty-two years as a stock trader and investment analyst, Walter had tired of the business. He realized now that he was never really happy.
When you beat people out of millions, some are going to get angry. He got used to being disliked; but never got over the way the media treated him. He became known as the Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬ËœTakeover Tyrant.'
He always thought he had time to change that. But now, in the last stages of cancer, it was too late to alter the way the world would remember him.
Not exalting the talented prevents rivalry.
"That's correct, Roger,"Mrs. Winhoffer smiled. "You can move to the head of the class.-
Walter strolled to the front of the room. He avoided Cindy's gaze as she collected her books and moved to his old seat. "My late nights of studying have finally paid off,"he thought to himself as he settled into her empty desk.
"Ok children, that will be all for the day."Mrs. Winhoffer returned to her desk near the blackboard. "Anyone who wants to challenge Roger for his seat can do so tomorrow during our regular question time.-
Not valuing goods that are hard to obtain prevents stealing.
"I'd love to see them,"I chimed in. I knew Paul had some of the most valuable pieces of Renaissance art in the city and I couldn't turn down a chance to check it out.
"Ok, but come prepared,"Paul replied. "Wear just a shirt and pants - no suit. And no electronics, either.-
"You're kidding, right?-
"Hell no! You want to be allowed into my gallery vault, you follow my rules.-
"Gallery vault?"I asked.
"That's right. Built by the best in the business. Too many thieves around, you know.-
Not displaying desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.
"Young lady, you are not wearing that to the dance tonight!-
Susan's shoulder's dropped. "Oh, Dad! There's nothing wrong with this dress.-
"You can see your knees! It's blasphemous!-
"But this is what kids wear today,"Susan protested.
"And your elbows are showing! Good Lord, what would my parishioners think if they saw you?-
"They would probably think I'm going to a high school dance.-
"Well, you're not. Those dances are for heathens away. Now go take that off, young lady.-
Susan turned around and ran up to her room, crying.
Therefore, the True Person governs by emptying the heart of desire and filling the belly with food, weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.
Early in the morning, several Army trucks rumbled into the center of town. There, under the nervous gaze of residents, a handful of soldiers exited the vehicles, rifles at the ready. The soldiers stood at attention while the mayor greeted their commander on the courthouse steps.
"Round up all the teachers, accountants, doctors, and other professionals,"the commander ordered. "Tell them they can bring one suitcase each. We leave for the re-education camp in Harbin City at sundown.-
If the people are simple and free from desire, then the clever ones never dare to interfere.
"All we need to do is keep to our Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœeverything's good' message going for three more weeks and the election's ours.-
Rumson couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Just ignore the entire scandal? Say nothing about it?-
"That's right,"Williams replied. "As long as you don't respond to their accusations, there's no story here.-
"No story? Four of my top aides are in jail! Millions of dollars unaccounted for!-
"Sir, they'll never connect you with the money. We have nothing to worry about.-
Practice action without striving and all will be in order.
I love going to this little sushi bar down on the corner. There, hidden away from all the blare and confusion of downtown New York City is an amazing oasis of tranquility
The best part about my visits is watching Mr. Ho make up a batch of sushi. He's an artist. He creates visually stunning sculptures with fish, rice, and seaweed in a matter of seconds. His hands are a blur. And the whole time he smiles and talks to customers as if he's relaxing with a cup of tea.
The Tao is like an empty bowl, yet it may be used without ever needing to be filled.
This was a hard one for me. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about it. Foolish old man. Only after I gave up did it rise to conciousness. So here it is.
You might think the glass is half empty
You might think the glass is half full
But neither is close to the truth
For in reality
There is no glass
There is no water
There is no thinking
There is no you
There is only the empty bowl