Thursday, March 13, 2008
The Tao Te Ching #8
Last night during our Liturgy, Sensei read from the Tao Te Ching.
It was a lovely reading, and reminded me of a time when I had poured over my copy, trying hard to fathom its depths. As a teenager, very little of it "made sense", especially from my carefully conditioned Western perspective. Yet the Tao resonated with me, and I returned to it again and again. It became a sort of compass.
This evening, getting ready to lead my meditation session, I looked for that old copy so that I could read something after our sit. My translation by Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English, was published in September, 1972, the year I began college. Like all first years of anything, but particularly college, it was a time of tremendous growth and change.
Bookmarked from another time, this is what I found tonight.
The highest good is like water.
Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.
In dwelling, be close to the land.
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
In speech, be true.
In ruling, be just.
In business, be competent.
In action, watch the timing.
No fight: No blame.
When and why had I bookmarked #8 of the Tao Te Ching?
The image of water not striving, of flowing where we humans can not go seems extraordinary. And especially in Spring, when ice shrinks, when snows melt, and rains fall: all the world seems like water.
What would it take for us to be like water? Who would we be?
Tonight, I opened the cover to find my name and the date, inscribed almost 35 years ago to the day, a birthday present, I realize, to myself.
For Sensei. Gassho!