Archives for posts with tag: taoist

bambit

 

When we define some events as good and other events as bad, we instantly qualify them with merit (or demerit) that is really unnecessary and often incorrect. We often find ourselves mired in suffering, sadness and confusion and there’s nothing abnormal about this. It’s very easy to get knocked off-center and to find yourself trying to analyze events in terms of “blessing” or “disaster.”

 

A blog I read posted a “philosophical musing” the author found on Facebook. I don’t need to tell you that a lot of the material on Facebook is neither “deep” nor “thoughtful,” and the author was moved to write her own response, coming from her unique perspective, about the quote. The original phrase was meant to be uplifting or inspiration, but implies a lot of what Taoism (and Buddhism) avoid to begin with, so I thought I would share it here.

 

The quote she found:

There are things we don’t want to happen, but have to accept; things we don’t want to know, but have to learn; and people we can’t live without, but have to let go.”

 

My analytical break-down and  response (edited for space and continuity) from a Taoist perspective:

 

 

I feel that the quote shared on Facebook (as with many quotes on Facebook) is meant to be “deep” and thoughtful, but is really neither.

“There are things we don’t want to happen, but have to accept;”

This part of the quote instantly implies  that things we don’t want are negative, thus forcing us to “accept” these “bad” things when they do. Qualifying life events as good or bad tends to disturb the delicate flow and balance of things and is often unnecessary. From a Taoist perspective, we might say, “it may seem bad at first, but how do we know it’s not a good thing in the end?” rendering our subjugation to “acceptance” null.

We don’t need to accept it, because we are not expecting anything. Keeping a neutral, open mind allows us to let things come and go, even situations that cause pain, because we are not declaring them to be “bad” or “good.”

There’s a Taoist story about a farmer and his son who find a horse that describes this sense of neutrality and openness:

Among the people who lived close to the border, there was a man who led a righteous life. Without reason, his horse escaped, and fled into barbarian territory. Everyone pitied him, but the old man said : “what makes you think this is not a good thing?”

Several months later, his horse returned, accompanied by a superb barbarian stallion. Everyone congratulated him. But the old man said: “what makes you think this cannot be a bad thing?”

The family was richer from a good horse, his son enjoyed riding it, but the son fell off the horse and broke his hip. Everyone pitied him, but the old man said: “what makes you think this is not a good thing!”

One year later, a large party of barbarians entered the border. All the healthy men drew their bows and went to battle. From the people living around the border, nine out of ten died. But just because his son was lame, the old man and his son were both spared.”

A different way to start that the original inspirational quote might be–”there are things we wish would go differently, but we cannot always know what is really the best path for things in our lives until we have opened our mind and given things a chance.”

The next part:

“There are things we don’t want to know, but have to learn”

I wonder if they are trying to imply that there are things we don’t want to know ABOUT? Or are they saying that, “yeah, we know you hate taking calculus–but you still have to stick it out and learn it to become an engineer”? It’s unclear, but I will assume they mean that there are times we are forced to learn about something when we’d rather be doing, or learning, something else.

Learning is always healthy, as is knowing when to let learning go and just be natural without preconception.

In Taoism, we can find a lovely paradox that describes how “unlearning” is better than learning, while reading the Tao Teh Ching which is kindly teaching us. It’s one of the more beautiful (and confusing to some) moments in the Tao Teh Ching. How, after all, can learning cloud our mind while we sit here reading a book which allowed us to come to that understanding? Because learning is neither bad nor good. It is natural and healthy–yet should never be used as a replacement for real spiritual practice.

A good example of what I mean is this:

You could read every book in the library on horseback riding. It would be enjoyable and you would indeed learn things, but there is no substitute for getting in the saddle, on the horse, with reigns in hand.

I can’t imagine there being things I don’t want to learn about, even if they seem to be “terrible” things. And, I remember Lao Tzu’s warning about residing only in books and book learning. Learn and also be in the world.

Learning is magic, after all.

Last part:

“and people we can’t live without, but have to let go.”

In Taoism, we concentrate on the center, developing our internal world, our internal sense of balance and connection. It may sound You-centric, but it does not imply superiority, simply that you are you. You have to start with you. Though we are all connected, in this physical form you can really only approach the world from your physical standpoint (which is where meditation comes in, to expand this reach). All answers are already within.

The more centered your internal universe, the easier it is to take things we THINK we can’t live without.

Letting go IS healthy. But it’s not simply because we cannot live without something and, again, must force ourselves to let go. Letting go should come naturally.

From the Tao Teh Ching:

“Things arise and [the master] lets them come; things disappear and she lets them go. She has but doesn’t possess, acts but doesn’t expect.” (2)

Buddhism also discusses how unhealthy it is to be attached to other people, objects and places. You can be detached and loving. They are not mutually exclusive. “Detachment” is not negative, either. It is just the realistic centered-ness that comes from focusing on inner balance. You may love them, protect them, wish they could be around forever–(of course!) but you are never forced to let go of them because you never possessed them to begin with.

“The Master observes the world
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is as open as the sky.”
(Tao Teh Ching, 12)

Of course we must endure sometimes–but it’s all about perspective.

 

The other blogger’s response to the quote, from a different spiritual perspective. Some of the parallels are interesting.

 

Smoke Tree, Year 1, Spring 2006

The cycle of seasons is an everlasting circle.

Our ancestors observed the passages of each–relying on a natural calendar to plant, grow, harvest, and repose. Each season brings its own flora, fauna, weather, and personality. Some even compare the seasons to stages of life and growth–with spring usually seen as the young child, emerging from the death of winter.

I can usually “feel” spring well before the calendar clicks over. It sneaks in. Days are cool, but warm at the edges. There’s a subtle shift in smell–the crispness reveals an almost watery scent, like a fishing pond. The plants in my yard begin to put out leaves and buds.

Smoke Tree, Year 2, Spring 2007

In my fervor to move away from New Mexico–I pause now, wondering what might become of the trees and bushes I’ve planted and cared for while living here. Will the next family who moves in simply cut them down? I’ve seen that so many times before. Or will they also enjoy the tiny green leaf buds of my robust Smoke Tree, now over 8 feet tall (who started out the size of a pencil), or the fresh sappy perfume of the Arizona Cypress’ new growth? Maybe children will play near the Red Leaf Sand Cherry, admiring the white blossoms without having memory of the year the tree nearly died from strong, hot winds… I carefully brought it back from the brink and now it grows near the Smoke Tree, brave in the sandy soil. Every time I see the Sand Cherry, I’m reminded that the worse situations can always be put in perspective.

Two years ago, a tamarisk took root in the worst, sandiest part of our yard. Tamarisk, or Salt Cedar, are considered invasive if they get down into native areas–like along the Rio Grande or in tree preserves. However, trimmed and cared for as single specimens, they are beautiful and unafraid. The little tamarisk teased me its first year. I knew it wasn’t a weed. It had a rough, rooty stalk. It grew straight upright quickly–fearlessly. I trimmed branches to keep it from overgrowing nearby plants and watched it soar. Now, it’s well over 11 feet tall. It will outlive me, if my house’s future family doesn’t cut its life short.

Smoke Tree, Year 3, 2008

Spring brings about a fresh beginning–but it’s also like a family vacation back to the familiar personalities of nature.

What will happen to the family of trees in my yard when I’m gone? Nothing lasts forever.

My smoke tree, chronicled here with three years of photos (I will add more photos, I just need to pull out the files), grew from a tiny pencil purchased from the Arbor Day Foundation, into a tree taller than me, with a thick trunk and fluffy flowers. I had such high hopes for New Mexico. I had high hopes for my yard. I planted 10 trees and only two survived the nasty desert weather. Like my time here in New Mexico, I feel as though the trees were kicked around, struggled… and only the strongest survived.

Again, I wonder–what will happen to the smoke tree when I’m gone? What will happen to the juniper and the chaste tree? I’ll do what I can to help them grow and flourish as long as I’m here, but after that, it flows as it goes.

It’s like letting go of children, I think. At some point, I’ll have to trust them to the rest of the world. And when I let them go, it will be like another spring, starting brand new.

(I will take photos of the smoke tree tomorrow–for a 2010 update.)

Edited to add the newest photo of the Smoke Tree (6/12/2010):

Smoke Tree, May 2010

From the 4th floor Fine Arts Library, the southern part of the city spreads out like a brick and treetop blanket, dipping here and there, allowing apartments and powerlines and flapping laundry on balconies to peek through. As the sun is slipping low in the sky, the desert is wide and far. As if it has no end. The edge of the curving planet.

I can see the divet the Rio Grande has punched into the valley’s base through the side-front windows. Cottonwoods punctuate the red banks and mountains formed during volcanic disturbances arch and curve; a misty backdrop. The mist, likely dirt. Coyotes, road runners, prarie dogs, wind scorpions inhabit the flat gray-yellow of the desert farther beyond.

I can see onto the tops of buildings. Granulated roof-stuff, like granola and cinnamon sugar, decorate the flat, human-tended surfaces. You can imagine hopping from one rooftop to another, light-footed, so the inhabitants don’t even know you’re there, yet you might be able to catch the scent of simmering spaghetti from a cocked kitchen window if you leapt to the right spot.

Seeing the mix of human-made and nautral is eye-opening from this height. Many of these buildings and plants are new, erected only a decade or so ago. Some are much older, having seen entire generations pad past on sidewalks flecked and cracked. I think of how the trees and buildings and streets will grow, change, morph, evolve over time–how they have since they began, how they will continue after I’m gone, how they have always continued in some form. How the natural flow and flux is the most innate thing there is.

Like Shiprock, which will one day be eroded down to dust, all of these things will change–yet the process of change remains the same.

Albuquerque%20Bosque%20Skyline

When I graduated from UC Berkeley, there was a fellow student, then 89 years old, who was finishing her 6th Bachelor’s degree. She had studied a wide range of subjects–history, English, anthropology, art… and also had more than one Master’s. She was awarded a special certificate for honorable academic achievements. I like to think of it as an eternal student award. When she gave her speech, she was asked what she was going to do next.

Her answer? “Get another degree!”

She was a student of life. She formally received awards for her studies–but you don’t have to sign up for every degree program under the sun to keep your mind open. Your thoughts ready to receive. To keep that fire of learning inside.

I know you’ve met people who think they know everything. Either about one subject, as a book-thumping expert with rigid citations, or as someone who thinks they’ve learned everything about EVERY subject. They loudly assert themselves. Announce everything they think they now. Belittle others for seeming to know less. They might be co-workers, family members. We might even be like that ourselves sometimes. But you know the type of person I’m talking about.

In America, many high school students think they’ve “finished” once they graduate. That they are now equipped with everything they ever need to know (and everything YOU need to know), simply because they have a high school diploma.

In reality, they have only just begun.

Lao Tzu says that “one who talks doesn’t know. One who knows doesn’t talk.” This is not a 2,500 year old request for people to clam up and sit down. In reality, it’s a reminder that the loud, chest-thumping guy who tells you that you don’t know how to swing a golf club, or that you’re clearly stupid for never having done this or seen that, is the kind of guy who talks loudly, but doesn’t know. He talks right from the ego. Right from the idea that he knows all, sees all, and is better than all.

He is most definitely *not* an eternal student.

The eternal student finds that there’s something to learn in every situation. Everywhere. At the movies. At a friend’s house. Stuck on a bus downtown. Watching bugs on a branch. The eternal student can find delight in opening a college catalog, wanting to take every class in the entire thing. Only wishing there were enough time. The eternal student learns from their mistakes, too. From when they lose a game of chess. Burn an egg. Hit their finger with a hammer.

They are like an empty cup–ready to be filled with anything. There’s room for plenty more. New ideas. New hobbies. New concepts. They tackle each day as an expedition. They explore the world around them and are never afraid to admit when they don’t know something.

By admitting they don’t know everything, they instantly understand a whole lot more.

The Tao Teh Ching reads:

47

Without opening your door,
you can open your heart to the world.
Without looking out your window,
you can see the essence of the Tao.

The more you know,
the less you understand.

The Master arrives without leaving,
sees the light without looking,
achieves without doing a thing.

If learning can be so fulfilling–why is Lao Tzu saying that the more you learn, the less you understand? Isn’t that bad? Like an uphill climb you can’t win?

Don’t think of it as better or worse, win or lose.

Lao Tzu says this because it’s true. The more you read and learn, the more you realize there’s so much more to learn and experience. You think you’ve mastered Photoshop–then you grab a new book and find new techniques you’ve never heard of. More to learn. A few new paths to explore. The more you think you’ve mastered about cooking, the more you find there are spices you’ve never tried. Dishes you’ve never heard of.

And this is not a bad thing.

The eternal student would most definitely find that the more they study, the more doors open which contain things they haven’t even begun to learn.

Finding that the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know keeps you energized as an eternal student. When you realize that “not knowing” is NOT bad, a million doors open.

And when you remember to keep ego in check and remind yourself that in the end, learning doesn’t make you better or worse than anyone else, you won’t become the guy who brags about his golf skills to bored people in line at Wal-Mart.

As the eternal student, you also realize that books don’t take the place of learning through experience. You can read all about riding a horse, but you won’t know how to do it until you physically try it. You have all the answers inside you, yet the questions that are out there are equally fascinating.

I try to be an eternal student in everything I do. There’s always something I can learn. I will never tire of taking classes and listening and watching. I also won’t forget that there are some things which can be learned by looking inward, but with the same open mind I apply to studying things on the outside.

Zhuge LiangDaily Musings -7/3/09 – “Honorable People”

Zhuge Liang, a brilliant strategist, philosopher, artist, musician, inventor, and prime minister of the Three Kingdoms era in China (he was born about 180 C.E. {AD}) was a student of Taoism and studied the Tao Teh Ching, the Art of War, and the I Ching heavily.

Known for his idealistic attempts to cause as little harm in war as possible, he wrote many scrolls on leadership, crisis management, and personal cultivation–some of which have been lost to antiquity. We are lucky to have some of his writings preserved even now, millenia later. Thomas Cleary offers a commendable translation of his timeless thoughts.

Zhuge Liang’s personal motto was:

“Opportunistic relationships can hardly be kept constant.

The acquaintance of honorable people, even at a distance, does not add flowers in times of warmth and does not change its leaves in times of cold: it continues unfading through the four seasons, becomes increasingly stable as it passes through ease and danger.”

Sounds like a warning against fairweather friends, tenuous networking, and social-ladder-climbers who would use you in times of success and abandon you in times of distress? You’re absolutely correct. Zhuge Liang warned that many are treacherous, appearing to be warm and friendly, while keeping an eye out for what they can get, how they can gain more, who they can entrap and connect with, and how they can use others. This reminder to be mindfully aware and cautious permeates his “Way of the General” scroll. When you are surrounded by honorable people, they won’t add a feather to your cap in times of success–and they also won’t flee when you’re in trouble. They are there, all the time. Unfading. Permanent. Reliable. Trustworthy.

No–this isn’t entreating an X-Files-like sense of paranoia, that everyone is out to get everyone else, and that they’re all plotting against one another. Rather, it’s a gentle reminder to keep your eyes and ears open for both the honorable AND the dishonorable. In every situation. Just be aware. Receive life, but always be open.

It seems silly that we would need to remind ourselves to surround ourselves with people who are true and forthright, but it’s a concept easily forgotten in the modern world. Especially when people are fradulently nice and no one could ever see them as anything otherwise.

The Tao Teh Ching reminds us that:
“True words aren’t beautiful. Beautiful words aren’t true.”

(sometimes translated as sweet/nice words). The sickeningly sweet layer of falsity that so often conceals mal intent was a problem over a thousand years ago. It’s still troubling today.

Hold onto the center. Trust your intuition. Be true and compassionate toward yourself. Be true and compassionate toward others. The honorable will rise to the surface. They are the ones who will be there for you, whether you’ve brushed your hair, failed that big test, lost everything, won everything, given everything up. They have got your back, even when they don’t seem to know where you are. Trust is everything.

And always remember the other side of the coin:

“To lose trust by trying to gain an advantage is a mistake made by men of old.” – Zhuge Liang.

Daily Musings

Daily Musings

This month, several living beings that have been part of my life have moved on–and one more, I feel, is about to.

This Daily Musing is not about death as “loss.” Instead, it’s about that window of time, just before and just after–and the gentle ripple of effect that rolls out and touches those who allow themselves to be aware (and how it seems to bounce off those who are unaware). The window all living beings will one day experience–and its connection to illusion.

A family friend, best friend of my stepfather, died last week. Lung cancer. Within a few days, my mother and stepfather’s dog, a best friend for over 20 years, also died. It was just the kind of thing that has to happen. When it’s time to move along your journey, it’s just a matter of finishing the final chapter in one book and starting the next. As Chuang-Tzu reminds us, it’s like a butterfly emerging from a coccoon. There was a time before you existed, and there will be a time after you exist (the way you do now). Holding onto transient things only drains you.

As some out there in the world are closing the cover and picking up the next volume of existence, there are others who are just beginning new chapters. Opening the cover for the first time. Friends whom I’ve known for years are brimming with life. Children. New things to work on. Projects. Pets. Picnics. Life. The cycle is always at a different place for each person, for each set of people, for each living creature–turning for everyone, always rolling along without judgment or expectation. It’s fascinating, thrilling, engaging to see this.

As my former boss (a gigantic private investigator who used to play football for the Oakland Raiders) used to say – “It is what it is.” It’s what his coach always said. It’s been deemed a meaningless statement by the media, yet it’s really very Tao in depth. Why does it happen? Because it happens.

A lady I have known for 4 years is finishing her book very soon. She is 98 years old. I have this feeling she’s close to complete, that her Jing is nearly gone. It’s not bad or good. It just is.

The same day I found out about her situation–the silliness of the unimportant world pops in.

A friend’s 18-year old son verbally scolds her for being 45 minutes late to pick him up from class, when her lunch and doctor visit take longer than expected. The same boy is ungrateful for a brand new car his parents bought just for him–because he thinks it’s a “chick car.” While he broods over whether vehicles are “girly,” another friend is now facing huge damages to their only car, because someone was careless and drove recklessly, without insurance, without anything–and rammed into the side of them. Their only form of transportation, now crippled, is held onto with respect and care, while some who are given cars and access and money are simply annoyed at the brand they’ve been “stuck” with. Still another friend is concerned about not being able to purchase an (unnecessary for daily survival) $8,000 item as fast as she wants, while other friends can barely pay their electric bills.

I am struck by the strangeness of what Taoism calls the “illusionary world.” The world of things which don’t really matter–like Starbucks and desks, 9 to 5 days, brand names, identitiy labels. We live with them all the time, yet many people cling to them like they matter more than anything else. While some living things are going through transformations, others are mired in the illusion, almost without (or perhaps ignoring) compassion for others.

And yet–illusion and reality are both part of the same big ball. Neither is better or worse. They are just tied together. Balancing yourself between both worlds (being able to exist in both, while letting neither side control everything) is key.

Be happy with what you have. Consider how your actions impact those around us. Dammit, enjoy Starbucks and a good video game when you can–but don’t be fooled into thinking that owning all the latest games and guzzling 5 gallons a day is the way to true happiness and balance.

Excerpts from the Tao Teh Ching, translated by Stephen Mitchell:

10

Can you coax your mind from its wandering
and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become
supple as a newborn child’s?
Can you cleanse your inner vision
until you see nothing but the light?
Can you love people and lead them
without imposing your will?
Can you deal with the most vital matters
by letting events take their course?
Can you step back from you own mind
and thus understand all things?

Giving birth and nourishing,
having without possessing,
acting with no expectations,
leading and not trying to control:
this is the supreme virtue.

16

Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return.

Each separate being in the universe
returns to the common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.

If you don’t realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.

Can you step back from you own mind and thus understand all things?

Letting go isn’t easy.

Whether it’s hanging on to a loved one, a deeply ingrained ideal, or even a favorite sweater–human beings have a hard time just letting things come and go as they will. It’s hard to step back, change our course, and let ourselves go the way we’re meant to go, especially when we have emotion, time, or money deeply invested in a particular event, plan, idea, or concept.

The more we’ve put into something, the harder it is to let the currents flow naturally.

Letting things take their natural course and flow is one of the cornerstones of Taoist thought. The more we try to force things to go as we believe they should, the more chaotic the situation becomes. The more chaotic, the more unbalanced. Since balance and internal harmony are key, it stands to reason that the more you try to control, the more out of whack and unable to find inner peace you become.

The more we go against that gut instinct that tells us something isn’t right, the more the whole thing blows up in your face. The more we lay rules down on top of the natural course of events, the more things spin out of control.

One of my Tao and Zen students, a teacher of great insight, called this ability to let go at the right time and hold on at the right time, “The Joy of Letting Go.”

“The master lets things come and go
as they will,
thus she is completely present
and can welcome all things,”

–Tao Teh Ching, Lao Tzu

Have a fantastic day.

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself
and don’t compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.

#8
–Lao Tzu, Tao teh Ching

So often, people are caught up in the drama of the illusionary layer of life–forgetting what really matters, and most importantly, losing sight of their center.

The more you try to grasp, the more falls through your fingers. The more you rush ahead, the easier it is to trip. The more you try to reach and take, on tippy toes, the more unstable you are.

Can you forget the self while being yourself? It can easily be done. Respect yourself. Be who you are. Don’t be phony. Don’t try to be what other people think you should be. Don’t rank yourself according to social rules, or social status.

Just be.

It sounds simple, silly, crazy.

As Lao Tzu said, true progress seems like stagnation. True wisdom seems silly.

Be yourself. Hold onto the center.

Daily Musings – 2/12/2009

Daily Musings

I saw an elephant when I wasn’t expecting to see one today.

While heading to our art studio, a detour at the Rio Grande river sent us down a side street we might never have explored. It skirted the river, with yellowed weeds and leafless cottonwoods twisting here and there, as the scenery rushed past. The unkempt backyards of numerous private residences butted up against the lower embankment of the muddy red water, with various kinds of chicken wire fencing, falling wood planks, playhouses, chained dogs, toys, and tiny vegetable gardens. One squared-off human residence after another.

Just as we were wondering where to turn, in order to return to our original course, I looked toward the rolling scenery of backyards and saw an elephant.

I looked two or three times. Backyard. Backyard. Trees. Elephant.

It was indeed an elephant, darker-skinned, strolling casually beneath a heavy canopy of trees, stepping between what looked like large red-brown fence posts, or telephone poles, lying flat.

The elephant was swinging its trunk, ears flapping.

Then he was gone from view, and another army of wired-in post-World War II homes took over the view.

I hadn’t expected to see the elephant there. It was a surprise. It was exciting. And I never would have seen him or her, if I hadn’t ended up diverted from my main course of travel. In fact, we enjoyed wandering through the streets we ran across, that we’d never seen before, taking our time returning to our original course.

Lao Tzu reminds us again and again that “the point of a journey is not to arrive.” To the untrained ear, this sounds silly. If I get on a plane, I most certainly expect to arrive somewhere, and not toodle around in the air, endlessly. On deeper inspection, it reminds us to take time. Explore. To become an eternal traveler, an eternal student, so that every trip we take, or every journey we begin, continues on, like a circular movement. Never ending, even when we think we’ve reached our destination.

Let there be no destination, and you’ll see elephants, too.

27
A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
and keeps his mind open to what is.

Thus the Master is available to all people
and doesn’t reject anyone.
He is ready to use all situations
and doesn’t waste anything.
This is called embodying the light.

What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man’s job?
If you don’t understand this, you will get lost,
however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.

–Tao Teh Ching, translated by Steven Mitchell

27
A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
and keeps his mind open to what is.

Thus the Master is available to all people
and doesn’t reject anyone.
He is ready to use all situations
and doesn’t waste anything.
This is called embodying the light.

What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man’s job?
If you don’t understand this, you will get lost,
however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.

Recommended Text: A Taoist Miscellany, compiled by Yuang Guang.

This fantastic, unassuming softcover volume is printed in China, and hard to find in the US (although I’ve found it for sale at East Earth Trade Winds). It contains a delightful, engaging assortment of traditional Taoist tales, stories, and anecdotes, culled from a variety of classical sources, including many texts that haven’t been fully translated into English. It also includes many of the more esoteric tales, which are harder to find in other collections.

Great reading!