A Fool's-Eye View

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Tao. Twenty Five.

Asked "What is tao?", 
the Master only smiles. 

His answer is his smile.

No words convey it, no teachings need be quoted.
No thoughts demand framing, no sermons clamor to be preached.

Why is this?

Tao does not live inside words, or thoughts,
manners or actions.

Anyone may learn words, and succeed in repeating them back.
Many do.
Anyone may learn to be, and merge mysteriously into the moment.
But few do.

His answer is his smile.
Tao is smiling him.


  1. Recently I traveled to Tokyo, and there, service providers (such as retail sales rep) always carry a warm smile (my Japanese friend told me that it means, "I am fully committed to provide the best services to you"), whereas the customer always carry a poker face (my Japanese friend told me that it means, "I am alert and watchful to your service, so don't be slack!).

    And I was told that some Zen or Tao masters like to smile and hit the head of his student with a stick at the same time. And I was told a story. Once a kid-student playing with a stick asked an elderly master a question. The master delivered his usual lesson: hit and smile. The kid-student smiled back and kept hitting the head of his master with his stick! The original question turned out to be: Master, can I play with you?

    When I am in new city, the sun has set, and I have lost my way. I will always choose a lady or an old man (or woman) to ask the way. And I always begin with a broad SMILE. And in such environment, if a rough guy walks towards me with a broad smile, I won't smile back, I just keep walking on.

    Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. And so is smile and so is Tao.

  2. Good story.
    I used the word "smile" because most people will understand that.
    But it is not the right word.
    There is no right word.

    You certainly do get around :)

  3. A smile, a flower, Dao De Jing, the Diamond Sutra (etc) can't enlighten anybody, but the enlightened sees enlightenment in all these, assuming he is not telling a lie, and God bless he can continue to grow or keep his enlightenment upon all future tests (Jesus prayed: do not put us to the test...)

  4. Yes, it is smile or silence of 'awareness of being'.
    Thanks The Crow.
    God bless.

  5. "There is no right word", true....just try doing it mathematically....

    Non-void (for a better word) = {0,45,-0.311, 1/23,.....} where (Oh dear!) 0 = Nothingness

    Tao = negation of Non-void

    For (some, not all) practical purpose, Tao is a seeking of internal/spiritual balance/peace out of (imbalanced) Non-void.

    Corollary: Non-void is inherently defined as imbalanced (Buddhists call understanding of Suffering), but that doesn't mean an enlightened one should not try (also) to seek (some transient) balance out of the inherent imbalance (Buddhists call cultivation of Compassion).

    I'm at lost with words and symbols, I need to smile :))

  6. What a busy mind.
    Yes: smiling is good.
    Expressionless alertness, even better.
    What is your native language, Paul?

  7. I'm from HK - pivoting precariously between Eastern and Western culture (sometimes afraid to be swallowed into either Abyss!), so I smile a lot:):):):):):)

    PS: Actually because of my precarious situation, sometimes I feel easier getting into touch with different personalities (spirituality) from different cultures (including different academic disciplines [yes, even academic disciplines are culturally stained], or cultural jokes [everybody loves that]!!!)...Christian, Taoist, Buddhist, Islamic, Sufi, Shaman...O dear, I need to smile again :):):):)

    PS: "Expressionless alertness"? I would recommend playing Tai-chi.

  8. Tai Chi is fun, for sure, but it seems physically incompatible with ki-aikido, which I prefer.
    I have a great interest in shamanism, too:
    My main totem is - of course - crow :)
    I have several lesser totems, as well, all of whom have been my teachers.
    I am rarely able to find anything of interest or import, to learn from humans.
    I avoid them, when I can, and when I can not, I tread lightly, ready to fly :)
    Nothing on earth can stir up quite as much pointless trouble, as humans.

  9. Tai-chi has many ways of practicing, pushing-hands (with accompanying mat-techniques) does have some similarities with aikido (I think), though tai-chi frequently uses pushing to unbalance or push-off an already unbalanced opponent, more similar to sumo-minus-horn-locking than to aikido. One benefit of tai-chi is that one can reap full-benefit (physical and spiritual health) through solo-practice, with its sophisticated chi-generation-system. (Needless to say, we shouldn't fool ourselves of able to fight in the street with only tai-chi pushing hands or aiki-throws practice . THAT will be a different game. That's why I put more emphasis on Tai-chi's solo practice).

    I'm still far too busy to be able to do much deep meditation (more obligations or "debts to be paid (from a previous life? I don't know)"), but certainly would love to listen to shamans who occasionally got news from the other side, assuming there is one....

  10. There is no "other side".
    It is all here, right now,
    but few are able to detect it :)

    Fighting in the street has long been a way of life for me. Then I learned martial arts, and haven't fought since.
    I loved to fight, but I was younger then.
    I never fought to win, but I always did.
    I miss being young, but would not like to go through it again :)
    Peace is worth fighting for.

  11. Hmm, I'm thinking about visions like John's Revelation in the Bible or Jung's Seven Sermons to the Dead (or the Red Book)....

    Do modern Shamans got similar visions? Just interested to know, can you enlighten me?

    In the old days of HK, we kids lived in rougher part of town had to fight for survival, no fun actually, no need to see a bone-setter was considered a VICTORY! Part and parcel of life for those kids who didn't choose a more protected life by staying indoors all the time. But com'on, there are so many interesting things happening around, therefore I like to travel, observe and talk to people (together with meditating and fantasizing - to see what is happening in my unconscious, to understand my fate, or try to re-configure it if possible).

  12. I don't claim to be a shaman.
    But I am shaman-like, sometimes.
    Perhaps more in the way of Shinto adepts.
    Or as a Jain.
    I don't know about that.
    I see what is there, whereas many people do not. Is that a vision? Or vision itself.
    I see eternity superimposed on the moment.

  13. Interesting...
    Do you get this "vision" (let's use this word for the time being) during meditation? Do you see mandala or other images (distinct figures or just colors, lights, sounds?). Or simply (no inferior connotation intended here) "seeing" (or "experiencing"/"feeling") an one-ness with the Universe. And do ask your totem for advice during this state? Does the use of Chi/ki/prana form part of your meditative practice?

    I'm not sure whether I have been asking the right questions....

  14. The vision I refer to is my day-to-day vision.
    I mean by that, that I have become very aware, in the context of being observant.
    I have come to know my oneness with everything, to the point I rarely think about it.
    I never ask totems for advice: I am the totem, and it is me.
    I perform no meditative practice, and have not for some years now.
    I arrived at my destination point, then got off the bus :)

    I think your undoubted intelligence might be getting in your way :)
    This journey is nothing to do with intellect.
    It is more about suspending thought, and being in a different state.
    Direct perception describes it well.
    And though it may not seem like it, it is very, very simple.
    Thus very few ever discover its secrets.

  15. ...very interesting indeed!

    As Jesus prayed: "Do not put us to the test" Indeed it is true. But Jesus put Himself to the test, and so did THE Buddha, and so does His Holiness the Dalai Lama....

    However, I don't think they actually chose their tests, but rather the tests chose them (or as Jesus implied: God chooses!). In other words, there ain't no bus for these....Guys.

    Very nice talking to you...

  16. A note on practice (not definitive, just my own personal [humble] experience):

    It is not too difficult to be at-one with the Universe during meditation (of whatever kind). (Prayers can be substituted for meditation by the Evangelical Church - here and thereafter, though some had started using meditation too )

    It is a bit more difficult to continue that at-one-ness when one is out of meditative state (that is why we see some contemporary "gurus" on youtube often try to keep themselves in a trance-like state throughout the day, and answer questions from their disciples when at that state). Because of that difficulty Taoists [and some Buddhist] use Chi-meditation to sustain this at-one-ness out of meditation (afterall Chinese are pragmatic people, how can they be in at-one-ness when they have a constant back pain, or being infuriated or getting sexually aroused! They need practical solutions from their Taoist masters). There are indeed different levels of chi-meditative practice.

    Of course, more religious minded practitioners will seek higher forms of enlightenment (which Church Fathers say will come from the Grace of God through faith and prayers; the Taoists, most Eastern practices and Shamanism will seek their own internal gods through deep meditation, suggestions [oftentimes from one's guru] or group dynamics, always bearing in mind that only the earnest seekers will be seek [hence, the grace of God does make perfect sense])

    One simple test of our spirituality: Are/do we (assuming we are crows) afraid of, irritated by, scared by, angered by or with scarecrow(s)(or actual shooters for that matter)? (Christians would probably say, "Love thy neighbor as thyself")

  17. Spirituality really isn't something one needs to test for.
    It is what it is.
    Or is not what it is not.
    If I were to find a gold nugget, I would be pleased with it. I would not be concerned with gaining the opinion of others to decide how I should feel about it, or just how much it might be worth.
    Indeed, being the character I am, I might decide to leave it where it was, that someone else might discover it, who might value it even more than I did.
    People tend to devalue whatever they come across, simply by having no respect for it.

    Arriving at my destination, I was content to alight from the bus, for while there may have been even more exotic destinations, further on, where I found myself was more than enough to satisfy me.
    And that, really, is what Tao is about:
    being what you are, where you are, and when you are.
    Jesus is Jesus, Buddha is Buddha, the Dalai Lama is the Dalai Lama.
    I am me. You are you.
    All are connected, all are what they are.
    There is no comparison to make.

  18. ...See what you'd respond when next time you go to the city, take the subway, a fat, loud and ugly lady pushes you and steps on your feet...well, and she swears at you using the F-words, saying that you blocked her way...

    Tests find us, not we look for them...

    Perhaps I can stay indoors when I was a kid (and true I can avoid most fights)...Yes, we do can make SOME choices (and you have a choice not take the subway, or never going to New York [or HK]).

    We all have choices, for me, it is interesting (and enlightening) to read about others' choices, I'm not making comparisons - for the record.

  19. Do you imagine I have never had these experiences? As I said, earlier: I have spent much of life in combats of various kinds.
    I retain that ability, and expertise, should it be required.
    I live in a forest now, because I far prefer peace to conflict.
    I would be interested in having you tell me just what you are doing when you respond so often to my posts. Are you sufficiently honest to say? Are you sufficiently aware of your own behavior to accurately report your motive?

  20. ...It's like a jammed session in Jazz. We make "music" and have some fun in the process, good manner always required.

    ...Perhaps I should take a break. Enjoy talking to you.

  21. Good answer.
    Hard to imagine a better one.
    Likewise :)

  22. Is what so?
    Something I have written?
    If so, it certainly is so, for me.

  23. Good answer, Mr. Crow (Jazz is certainly not for everybody, my response to /interpretation of [I might be wrong] the so-so question from the lady-helper).

  24. Lady-helper?
    As in Lady Who Helps?
    Your meaning is cryptic, as usual.
    I imagine this is humor.

  25. just follow the linkage to Lady Liara and see what you think...
    metaphor and poetry are always cryptic, not that I'm writing either, just plain prose...

  26. Yes, I see.
    No doubt she means well.
    As do you.
    As do I.
    Very few of us always get it right.
    If any.


Comments are welcome, while remembering:
Taoism is all about balance, thus:
Politics are not part of taoism.