Advice from a Sage

August 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm Leave a comment

Lieh-Tzu, the Taoist sage who rode the wind, was a student of Hu-Tzu and he prided himself on his learning. But one day he realised that he had actually learned nothing, and all the time he had spent with Hu-Tzu was wasted. It was not that Hu-Tzu was a bad teacher. No, it was Lieh-Tzu’s problem. He realised that he wore learning like a blanket, that it was too external and superficial, and that it had not penetrated inside. He was not fulfilling his true capacity and needed to do something about it.

So the story goes,

He went home, and for three years did not leave his house.

He cooked meals for his wife,

Served food to his pigs as though they were human,

Treated everything as he did his family,

From the sculpted jade he returned to the uncarved block,

Till his original self stood forth, detached from all things.

He was free of all tangles

Once and for all, to the end of his life.

This story contains good advice for everyone, but especially parents in how they treat their partners and children. If you imitate Lieh-Tzu you too can have his outcome. Why is that ?

When we read a story like this, we assume that Lieh-Tzu was a sage and therefore a good person. A sage is wise, so he should know what he wants from life that will truly satisfy him. And someone like that would be happy, we assume. But here we see that Lieh-Tzu does these things out of unhappiness. He does not like himself, and wants to change. He leaves his teacher and goes home because he has an intuition that he needs to do this to become whole again. And it is the doing that does it.

The paradox is that Lieh-Tzu undertakes these totally selfless actions, serving only others, and yet the result is that he returns to his original self. This renewal removes all the tangles, obstructions and blockages of mind and body that were stopping him from finding his true capacity.

He did not act selfishly, but his self gained immeasurably, by becoming renewed through his actions. There is a good lesson here. I hope to learn it.

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Entry filed under: Ancient wisdom. Tags: , , , , , .

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