Laozi: subtracting day by day

Learning consists in adding to one’s stock day by day;
The practice of Tao consists in “subtracting day by day,
Subtracting and yet again subtracting
Till one has reached inactivity.
But by this very inactivity
Everything can be activated.”
Those who of old won the adherence of all who live under heaven
All did so not interfering.
Had they interfered,
They would never have won this adherence.

Laozi

I’m beginning to see trust and allowing in the Daoist trajectory of “wei wu wei” – acting without acting, doing without doing, uncontrived action.

Laozi: the usefulness of what is not

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;

But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.

We turn clay to make a vessel;

But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.

We pierce doors and windows to make a house;

And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.

Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.

Laozi

This chapter from the Dao De Jing takes on new meaning for me as I learn to trust and allow what, from my perspective of effort and control, “is not”. Faith is darkness to the intellect.

Glasses, and a smile

I briefly glimpsed someone who

Reminded me of you when we first met:

Riding along,

A passenger in someone else’s car, staring straight ahead,

Glasses, and a smile.

And I knew then, why I loved you

And how I forgot that too,

Trying too hard to be “perfect” for you

As if your loveliness now rested on me.

But your light, your brightness and your ease never needed anyone to just be.

A gift can’t be earned or it’s not longer a gift.

So let me stop thinking that I’m helping you

And just enjoy each frequent glimpse of your smile, your delight, and the love it means to me.

Hafiz: School of Truth

O fool, do something, so you won’t just stand there looking dumb.
If you are not traveling and on the road, how can you call yourself a guide?

In the School of Truth, one sits at the feet of the Master of Love.
So listen, son, so that one day you may be an old father, too!

All this eating and sleeping has made you ignorant and fat;
By denying yourself food and sleep, you may still have a chance.

Know this: If God should shine His lovelight on your heart,
I promise you’ll shine brighter than a dozen suns.

And I say: wash the tarnished copper of your life from your hands;
To be Love’s alchemist, you should be working with gold.

Don’t sit there thinking; go out and immerse yourself in God’s sea.
Having only one hair wet with water will not put knowledge in that head.

For those who see only God, their vision
Is pure, and not a doubt remains.

Even if our world is turned upside down and blown over by the wind,
If you are doubtless, you won’t lose a thing.

O Hafiz, if it is union with the Beloved that you seek,
Be the dust at the Wise One’s door, and speak!

Hafiz

Hafiz: I have learned so much

I

Have

Learned

So much from God

That I can no longer

Call

Myself

A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,

a Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of Itself

With me

That I can no longer call myself

A man, a woman, an angel,

Or even a pure

Soul.

Love has

Befriended Hafiz so completely

It has turned to ash

And freed

Me

Of every concept and image

my mind has ever known

Hafiz

Hafiz: I know the way you can get

I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:

Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp.
Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.

Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
The innocent
And into one’s self.

O I know the way you can get
If you have not been drinking Love:

You might rip apart
Every sentence your friends and teachers say,
Looking for hidden clauses.

You might weigh every word on a scale
Like a dead fish.

You might pull out a ruler to measure
From every angle in your darkness
The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once
Trusted.

I know the way you can get
If you have not had a drink from Love’s
Hands.

That is why all the Great Ones speak of
The vital need
To keep remembering God,
So you will come to know and see Him
As being so Playful
And Wanting,
Just Wanting to help.

That is why Hafiz says:
Bring your cup near me.
For all I care about
Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

All a Sane man can ever care about
Is giving Love!

Hafiz

Kabir: He Himself

He Himself is the tree,
the seed,
and the germ.

He Himself is the flower,
the fruit, 
and the shade.

He Himself is the sun,
the light,
and the lighted.

He Himself is Brahma,
creature,
and Maya.

He Himself is the manifold form,
the infinite space;

He is the breath,
the word,
and the meaning. 

He Himself is the limit
and the limit-less:
and beyond both
the limited 
and the limitless
is He, the Pure Being.

He is the Immanent Mind
in Brahma 
and in the creature. 

The Supreme Soul is seen
within the soul,

The Point is seen
within the Supreme Soul, 

And within the Point,
the reflection is seen again.

Kabir is blest because he has this 
supreme vision.

– Kabir

Kabir is writing about seeing Brahma, God, Pure Being, alive in his own soul. There is no separation, we are one with the Most High, and with this knowledge comes the joy, love, and bliss we seek.

Kabir: The Thirsty Fish

It makes me laugh to think
That a fish in the water
Thirsts for a drink.

From forest to forest he sadly roams
In search of a jewel
Lying at home.

It makes me laugh to think
A musk-deer is seeking
The very fragrance
Which emanates from him.

Without knowledge of the Self
What use O pilgrim,
At Mathura or Kasi
To go looking for him?

It makes me laugh to think
That a fish in the water
Can thirst for a drink.

Kabir

This poem is about finding the Self or indwelling presence of God. But for me today it holds the special resonance of learning to find joy at home, joy in the things of everyday life, transforming “burdens” into treasures.

The feeling of freedom

I saw some kid sitting against a fence by the bus stop waiting for his bus.

Seeing him there alone and waiting, somewhere to go but no hurry to be there, reminded me of a feeling I used to have.

The feeling of freedom. The freedom of no cares and no worries, walking out into the world and feeling existence surround me.

Feeling my own solitude against the world. The isolation and potential of nothing I need to be doing.

Having kids, a home, a wife; people and things to come back to. Yes, they tether me. But they don’t have to.

Freedom is a mental condition. Driving a car can feel like freedom, or it can be a tense, white-knuckle experience.

You can relax behind the wheel and hit some kind of zen-like trance where everything feels connected and flowy.

So why not relax behind life? Loosen your grip on the reins or the wheel, take your foot off the brake. Trust your instincts, trust the journey, trust the flow.

The world is still completely free. It never changed from when I was young and solitary.

I’m still alone, but I also have people I care about, and do you think that’s not part of the flow too?

It’s not my efforts or worry that keep the world going. My heart won’t stop beating if I let go nor will I forget to take my next breath.

If I’m tied down, let the ties do their work! Relax and know that nothing I want will drift away or be lost.

I’m just another ingredient in this beautiful medley. Counting heart beats or following my breath, I’m free to be just a piece of this grand composition that is living me.

That’s what freedom means. Life is loving me and not an atom of my whole experience needs my work to hold it in place.

And on the contrary there are many many wonderful things waiting to join in if I just give them the space to enter, and my willingness to appreciate what they bring.