Archive for November, 2017

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 13

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寵辱若驚,貴大患若身。

何謂寵辱若驚?寵為下,得之若驚,失之若驚,是謂寵辱若驚。

何謂貴大患若身?吾所以有大患者,為吾有身,及吾無身,吾有何患?

故貴以身為天下,若可寄天下;愛以身為天下,若可託天下。

“Favour and disgrace cause one dismay,
What we value and what we fear is as if within the self.”

What is meant by speaking thus of favor and disgrace?
Disgrace is being in a low position (after the enjoyment of favor).
The getting (of a favor) leads to the apprehension of losing it, and the loss of it leads to the fear of still greater calamity.
This is what is meant by saying that favor and disgrace cause one dismay.

What does it mean to say that
What we value and what we fear are within the self?
We have fear because we have a self.
When we do not regard that self as the self,
What have we to fear?

Therefore, he who values the self as he does his self –
May then be entrusted with the government of the world;
And he who loves the world as his self –
To his care may the world then be entrusted.
(From Osho-The-Way-of-Tao-Volume-2)

I have a hard time with this chapter. Somehow the words here strangely would not enter my brain. I read it and put it down to think about it repeatedly. I did not know why I had to struggle with it. I told myself that I had to finish this every day for three weeks, but the question is how and when.

Unexpectedly, I woke up at 3 am this morning. I forced myself to go back to sleep but failed. After half an hour, I decided to get up, and again I picked up this chapter and tried to read it, and gradually I grasped its meaning.

Yes, favor and disgrace cause one dismay, and moreover, it can cause our fear and anxiety. Is the fear within ourselves? Definitely. Let me explain it with my own experience.

For the last two weeks, I have auditioned for three commercials. Surprisingly, all three put me on avail. ‘Avail’ is shorthand for ‘keep yourself available.’ Practically speaking, they mean that the production is making sure you’re still available for the dates of the shoot. They are also asking to be notified if your availability changes – because you’re at least one of the people considered for the role.

I was overjoyed that I had three in a row within a week, and felt like that I was on top of the world. This had never happened since I became an actor. “Good job,” I kept telling my self, and I had my head up with a big smile face for several days. I felt great not just mentally, but I also felt light physically. It was a happy week as I went through it thinking I got not just one, not just two, but three big avails. But as days passed, I started to get nervous and kept checking the calendar.

I wondered why nobody called me for a wardrobe fitting, as there is always wardrobe fitting right before the shooting. When the days began to pass by, I knew then I did not book the commercials – not just one, not just two, but three. Ouch! It hurts, like the feeling of falling off a cliff.

Well, I put my head down and faced the harsh reality that I had been so close, but I did not get them. Sad, unhappy feelings encircled my mind and my body. The directors probably never imagined what a terrible ride that they give to the hopeful and wishful actors that had the same experiences as me. It is not a fun ride, and I would not like to be in their director’s position, that is for sure.

But as I was sitting here writing early in the morning, I got my smile back before the sun rose. It is not a total loss after all; you see, I realized somehow that this experience helped me to understand this chapter and write about it. What a blessing in disguise, don’t you agree? Moreover, it stopped my three-week struggle to understand this section; it turned my disappointment of not booking into a miracle.

The reason that I was overjoyed and then distressed was because of “self.” The more I focus on it, the more “fear” comes to me, and it starts to affect me. Only when I understand that there are two sides of the coin and that they coexist in our life is when I can be rid of the “self ” to become selfless. Thus, I gain freedom because it no longer controls me.

From other perspectives, if we treasure the world as part of us, then we can be entrusted with the government of the world; similarly, if we love the world as our self, the world may then be entrusted to our care.

Where Are You?

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One early Sunday morning
I got up and tried to move my car
Because I came home late the night before
After visiting my grandson
Who had just been released from the hospital
After being hit by a car.

Usually, I would have moved the car
So my older son could go exercise
But on this particular day, I asked him
To pray with me before he went
Despite not knowing what’s on my mind
He usually agrees.

So we lit candles and bowed our heads
And we sat down
At the time, my heart was so heavy
The weight was more than my shoulders could carry.

A small thing like the water leaking on my property
And disagreements between the workers and the tenant
Was irrelevant when my mind was on my grandson.

He was just seven years old
And he loved go-kart racing
He seemed to find himself in it
To have control over something at his young age
And to be able to compete.

My mind went back to yesterday
When my daughter texted me
She asked me to pray for him
Because he was in the ER.

I didn’t know what was going on,
He was a healthy, smart boy
Why would he be in the ER?

The reception was so bad that I couldn’t get an answer
No text messages after that
But I needed to attend class that afternoon
And all I could do was pray
So I would be at peace during my class.

I trusted that everything was under God’s protection
A little bit of anxiety, but no tears.

All of a sudden, a sentence came to me:
“Where are you?”
He was asking me.
What do you mean, where are you?
I thought that was my question to Him.

Many times we ask only for things for ourselves
But if we do not find our prayers answered the way we want
We fail to see the blessings that come down
And we do not get the blessings we think we are asking for
Then we will always ask God, “Where are you?”

But this time he asked me.
Why would He ask me “Where are you?”
I realized why he asked me this question
If it wasn’t for the worry I had for my grandson,
I would be without peace
I felt the urgency to talk and pray for him
If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here, and my son wouldn’t be here.

I may spend ten minutes in prayer
And my son will go as usual to work out
And after, we will take our time to eat
And go to work
After work, I will go dancing or watch TV
Or have dinner with friends
Where am I?

And He asked me again, “Where are you?”
I could only say I was nowhere to be found
So busy being busy
For so long, I did not spend the time to connect with God
Or to quiet myself down to search for truth

Yesterday, with all these things going on while I was in class
The teacher’s assistant noticed and told me before I left
“Imagine you have a cup of muddy water,
Take your time to let it clear by itself.”
I understood exactly what she meant.
If we try to clear a cup of muddy water ourselves,
It will never become clear
The dirt will never settle.

Only then we understand all it needs to clear is to wait
It is time for us to be quiet
And for us to connect with God
Only then will we find peace within ourselves.

After the prayer, I waited
To call my daughter to check on my grandson
He was doing alright
And I knew it was all because He is there.
When he needed protection the most.
He is there to guide him.
And He never fails to be where we need Him to be.

As Thanksgiving Day is approaching, I hope I can be in the right place.
So I can find the time
And the means
To feed the hungry
To give water to the thirsty
To visit the sick
And continuously be where He wants me to be.

The poem was written on November 12, 2017.

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 12

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五色令人目盲;
五音令人耳聾;
五味令人口爽;
馳騁田獵,令人心發狂;
難得之貨,令人行妨。
是以聖人為腹不為目,故去彼取此。

The five colors blind the eyes of man;
The five tones deafen the ears of man;
The five flavors dull the taste of man;
Horse-racing, hunting and chasing madden the minds of man;
Rare, valuable goods keep their owners awake at night.

Therefore the Sage:
Provides for the belly and not the eye.
Hence, he rejects the one and accepts the other.
(Translated by Yu Tang Lin)

Five Colors: green, red, yellow, white, black.
Five Tones: 宫 Gong(Do) 商 Shang(Re) 角 jiao(Mi) 徵 Zhi(Sol) 羽 Yu(La), similar to the Western notes (do), (re), (mi), (so), (la), 1 2 3 5 6.

 Image result for 五聲音階相片

The image is from樂理-b

Five Flavors: sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, salty.

Image result for image of Five Flavors: sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, salty.
Horse-racing, hunting and chasing madden the minds of man;
Image result for image of hunting
Rare, valuable goods keep their owners awake at night.
China Porcelain — Canton vase. Qing dynasty. H:t 62,5 cm, 19th Century (2256×3664)161: Chinese Qing dynasty cloisonne moon flask vase, : Lot 161
Images are from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/391672498813823083

Lao Tzu points out that our sensual desires or pursuing of material which is external often brings disastrous consequences to us. Again, he reminds us to rid ourselves of outside pleasure and gain peace within. Just like the saint who only meets the basic survival needs of the belly, rather than chasing the extra desires. In other words, the saint chooses to be simple and quiet, and not to be extravagant.

A Story From a Friend

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This is a story that my friend told me:

Image result for image of Edinburgh, England.

Image from International Studies Abroad

An old couple decided to sell their house to move to Spain to retire after working all of their life in Edinburgh, England. Their house was surrounded by the sea, where the humidity was high, and the couple was susceptible to rheumatism.

The old man fancied a house in Spain but had to make a payment in two weeks, so the Edinburgh housing agency hung up a sign for rush sale.

A young Chinese couple happened to find jobs in the city. They were in a hurry to buy the house for kids to go to school in time. They saw the listing and it seemed to be the house that they were looking for.

The young couple took note of the words “home for rush sale.” They called the agent and asked whether they could get a discount.

The old couple had no choice because they needed to make the payment for the house in Spain. They gave them the discount.
But the young couple still felt that they could get a better deal. A couple of days before closing, they asked for a larger discount, or they would cancel the transaction.

Unexpectedly, the old couple agreed.

The young couple was overjoyed to get such a good deal.

Friends came to help them to move in.

Image result for image of flower on the table

Image from Pinterest

To their surprise, they saw a carpet of green grass, and flowers in bloom. It seemed as if the owners had just left. They were even more shocked when they entered the house.

The house was spotless, with bright windows and clean tables. On the table were some flowers in a vase with a note underneath, which read: ” Welcome to this house that gave us happy and memorable for decades. We wish that you would have the most joyous life here.”

The couple went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator to see it full of food and drinks. The refrigerator also contained a note, which said: “We have prepared a week of supplies for you. You can go to the supermarket by taking a left and then another left; it is about 20 minutes away.”

The young couple was puzzled. How do you sell a house for enough money like this?

They went to look at the meter box, where they found another note, which read: “We have paid for you at least one month of electricity, so you have enough time to transfer the utilities.” but in the UK, it is troublesome to handle such procedures.

They were in awe and stood there and could not move.

At that moment, they lost the joy of moving into a new house.

 

Note:

If you like to read the original Chinese text, you can click the link below-

這是個聽來的故事

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 11

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三十輻,共一轂,當其無,有車之用。
埏埴以為器,當其無,有器之用。
鑿戶牖以為室,當其無,有室之用。故有之以為利,無之以為用。
Thirty spokes are joined in the wheel’s hub.
The hole in the middle makes it useful.
Mold clay into a bowl.
The space inside makes it useful.
Cut out doors and windows for the house.
The holes make it useful.
Therefore, the value comes from what is there,
But the use comes from what is not there.
(Translated by Stefan Stenudd)

Thirty spokes unite around the nave;
From their not-being (loss of their individuality)
Arises the utility of the wheel.
Mold clay into a vessel;
From its not-being (in the vessel’s hollow)
Arises the utility of the vessel.
Cut out doors and windows in the house (-wall),
From their not-being (space) arises the utility of the house.
Therefore by the existence of things we profit.
And by the non-existence of things we are served.
(Translated by Yu Tang Lin)

Image result for images of ancient Chinesewagon wheel with 30 spokes

This image is from https://kknews.cc/news/mnpz49.html

Thirty spokes unite in one nave; but it is inn the space for the axle, that the use of the wheel depends. Clay is fashioned into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness that their use depends. The door and windows are cut out from the walls that form an apartment; but it is in the space that their uses depend. Therefore, that which does not have positive existence serves profitable adaptation, and what has not that serves actual usefulness. (http://ctext.org/dao-de-jing)

Using the examples of the wheel, bowl, and house, Lao Tzu stresses the importance of emptiness. Those are our daily use and necessary stuff for our livelihood. From here, we can extend that concept to many more things that are close to us, which are empty and yet hold usage. Indeed, value comes from what is there, but use comes from what is not there.

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