Split wood, light breathing

The Dao has nothing to say not because it is mute, not because it is coy but because it communicates in its own way. Best, therefore, not to ask it anything but to rest–anywhere–in the light of its presence. On  this second spring, the mountains will serve that end.

The Daoist Sage does everything lightly, including loving. Excessive effort bears little, yields nothing save contortions and distortions of spirit, save strife. The Sage walks lightly, speaks with lightness, has mastered appropriate lightness. Accordingly, he is neither wilted nor husky, neither a brute nor a dandy. When he loves, he loves with lilies and splinters and grace. Last night I tweeted:

To split wood with grace, cast the axe forcefully downward and feel the lightness–the light breath–of success. The moon is just so.

Wake up! An admonition

I have observed of late with a frown that many people too soon adapt to events that have the potential of being world-sundering. I have had reason to revisit the claim I made in 2011 about ‘strategies of retention’:

Understanding the reasons why a practice is causing somebody disquietude will involve more than helping her to achieve theoretical insight, though this will be one exercise among others. It will also require guiding her through the various strategies she’s employed in order to hold onto a life that she still values and desires yet that cannot conceivably work. At the same time, the practice will be directed to getting her to develop new practices that carry the potential of realising worthwhile final ends. (‘Putting Lives in Order,’ TPM 57)

In some cases, it is necessary for a being to adapt to his external circumstances. Cold weather provides an occasion for one to learn hardiness while exceptionally warm weather allows one to exercise forbearance, patience, and whatever virtue is the contrary of lassitude. Other everyday cases also come to mind: incivility could be met with a smile, the chattering of a fellow with a dumb ear or with a Zen-like blow to the head.

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Episodes 13-19 of radiant living

Episodes 13-19 of radiant living can now be viewed on my YouTube Channel. Each episode is made to run about 5-8 minutes.

An update: in this space, I have no plans to post more embedded videos on this project whose aim is to show how the good is connected with the beautiful. However, you can subscribe to receive these episodes directly, should they happen to be of interest to you. Enjoy.

Facing up to life

We had fallen for the lure. A day before the Vernal Equinox, there were plenty of inklings of spring. The robins, even before this, had grown plump and plentiful and were everywhere seeking and pulling plump worms clean from the earth. The Pileated Woodpeckers were bashing their heads against the locust trees and, in the next instant, tearing down the mountainside like some blood-crazed kamikazes. Even the lowdown rabid dogs scarcely bellowed but were resting their convulsing lungs.

But by Sunday, the forecast had changed and, with it, our resolve. Who knows how many inches have fallen since and how hard the bracing wind has blown? Who knows how long the power will stay on before it flickers on and finally off? Who knows whether our wood will last, our ready supply of candles and gallons of water be enough?

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The worst sort of parents…

Excluding monsters, the worst sort of parents are those who do not raise their children to be capable of being parents themselves. For Kant, the enlightened person is one who is no longer under the thumb of a ‘guardian’–in this case, a parent upon whom he is dependent–but has learned to think for himself and to rely upon his own considered judgment. The best sort of parents perform something of a ‘miracle,’ symbolically ‘killing themselves off’ so that their children have the chance of becoming enlightened adults themselves. In fact, there are three miracles: that of parents doing away with themselves as parents; that of parents not extorting from their children some kind of bad, infinite debt; and that of parents ensuring, somehow or other, that their children do not think to put other guardians in their place. Were all three miracles to be performed, then children maturing into enlightenment would seek to make themselves worthy of adulthood and parents would, though ‘dead’ or rather because ‘dead,’ be worthy of their children’s considered esteem and reverent memory.