The Seeker – Pt 3

December 28, 2013 at 11:50 am Leave a comment

The Seeker is taken from the writings of Chuang Tzu and appears in my book The Spiritual Teachings of The Tao. Nan Jung Chu was an older student who wanted to become a Real Person. His teacher suggested he visit Lao Tzu, who tried to teach him:

7. Fourth Teaching: Preserve Inner Freedom

One who preserves his inner self doesn’t act for the sake of fame. One who lives for the world has his will set on whatever he can take. One who acts without thinking of fame may seem ordinary, but shines brightly. One whose will is set on gain is just a trader.

People see how he stands on tiptoe, while he thinks he is naturally superior. A person attached to things becomes possessed by them, while one indifferent to things just lets them pass by.

Attached to things, you lose concern for other people. Unconcerned with others, everyone becomes a stranger. In this way a person becomes alienated from others.

There is no weapon deadlier than the will — even the sharpest sword is inferior to it. There is no robber greater than Yin and Yang, from whom nothing es-capes. But it’s not Yin and Yang that do the robbing – it’s your own heart that does it.

8. Fifth Teaching: Hide In Non-Existence

Tao is in everything, found in the complete and the divided. To divide something is to create something else. To create something is to destroy something else.

So when people emerge and are born, if they don’t know how to return to their previous non-existence, they are little more than ghosts. Everything that is born also returns – they die, as we say. They may be killed off and gone, but their life is like that of ghosts.

If the formed can learn from the unformed then true understanding can take place. We emerge, but not from a root. We return, but not through an opening. We have a real existence, but it’s not located in a place. We have duration, but it has nothing to do with beginning or end.

We have a real existence, but it has nothing to do with place: that’s our relation to space. We have duration, but it has nothing to do with beginning or end: that’s our relation to time.

We have life, we have death; we emerge, we return. To emerge and return without showing our form is called the ‘Gate of Heaven’. The Gate of Heaven is Non-being.

All forms of life come from non-being. The first beings couldn’t bring themselves into being – they must have come from non-being. And non-being is just the same as non-existing.

So the sage hides himself in non-existence and this is his secret.”

9. Sixth Teaching: Find Real Knowledge

Lao Tzu continued his teaching, “Among the ancients there were those whose knowledge reached the extreme point. What was that point? There were some who thought that in the beginning there must have been nothing. This was the extreme point, the furthest reach of their knowledge, to which nothing could be added.

Next were some who supposed that in the beginning there was existence, and they considered life to be a gradual ebbing, and death a return to the original state. And there they stopped, but made the division between life and death.

And there were those who said, ‘In the beginning there was nothing. Later there was life. And in a while life was succeeded by death. We believe that non-existence is the head, life the body, and death the buttocks. Any-one who understands that existence and non-existence, death and life, are all under One keeper, will be our friends.’

Although these three views are different, they belong to the same family. They are one, even though they seem to be diverse.”

10. Seventh Teaching: All Life Is One

Lao Tzu continued, “The possession of life is like dirt that collects under a cooker. When this is distributed in different forms, we consider it different. But to try to talk about these differences is a waste of breath. There is always something we don’t understand.

For instance, at the Winter Sacrifice the intestines and hooves of the sacrificial animal are placed on separate dishes, but we don’t consider them parts of different victims. The animal is one.

Again, when you inspect a house to buy, you go over all of it in detail – bedrooms, shrines and toilets – making estimates of different parts of the house. But the house is one.

Let me speak about how people make distinctions. Life is the root, and knowledge is applied to it. Using knowledge, people examine life, and debate right and wrong, trying to determine what will bring fame and fortune. Their conclusion is that only they know what’s right, and they try to make others adopt them as a model, even prepared to die to defend their views.

These people believe being an official is a mark of knowledge, and not being in office a sign of stupidity. They think success entitles them to fame, and failure is a disgrace. The people of the present day who follow this method are like the cicada and the little dove — there’s little difference between them.

If you tread on someone’s foot in the crowd, you apologize. If an older brother steps on his younger brother, he comforts him. If a parent treads on a child’s foot, no need to ask forgiveness.

Hence it’s said:

‘Perfect politeness shows no special respect;
perfect justice takes no account of things;
perfect wisdom makes no plans;
perfect good shows no emotion;
perfect loyalty gives no oath of sincerity.’”

11. Eighth Teaching: Keep A Calm And Stable Mind

Lao Tzu concluded his teaching to Nan Jung Chu,

“Suppress the impulses of the will;
unravel the errors of the mind;
untie the knots of virtue;
unblock the free flow of Tao.

Glory and riches,
prominence and position,
fame and profit;
these six are the impulses of the will.

Personal appearance and style,
beauty and cleverness,
excitement and memory;
these six are errors of the mind.

Hatred and desire,
pleasure and anger,
sadness and joy;
these six are the knots of virtue.

Rejection and acceptance,
receiving and giving,
knowledge and ability;
these six obstruct the free flow of Tao.

When these four conditions,
and their six causes,
no longer disturb your heart,
then you will be correct.

Being correct, you are calm;
being calm, you are clear;
being clear, you are empty;
empty –
the state of doing nothing,
in which everything gets done.

Tao is revered by all the virtues.
Life is when their power can shine.
Nature is the substance of life.

Nature’s movement we call action.
When action is false,
it fails to strike home.

People who are knowing attach themselves to things outside and always have a plan. With all their knowledge there’s always something they miss – they can’t see straight.

When you act because there is no alternative, it’s called ‘virtue’. When you act from your deepest self, it’s called ‘governing’.

You may think these two terms are opposed to each other, but in reality they are in agreement.”

So ended the Master’s teaching.
Did Nan Jung Chu ever find Tao?
Did he keep his health and guard his life?
We shall never know.

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The Seeker – Pt 2 A Cultivator’s Diary Pt 6 (from my journals 2007)

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