the way of the Way ~ the paradox of Non-Action & Non-Contending
the wisdom of intimacy
Feb 24, 2020
Brian Wilcox. 'The Light Moves'
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You can access the video via upper-left artist-title below...
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A man, passionate in his new-found love for the Divine, visited the Sage. He told the Sage of how he had newly come to believe in God, how he desired to serve his God, to glorify his God through doing good. If the Sage would allow, he noted, he would like to visit and accompany the Sage daily for a time.
The Sage asked him, "Why do you want to do this?" "I want to live to glorify God, to serve Him. I believe you can help me to know how to do that." The Sage consented to the request, "Okay, but you must do whatever I say."
The man began visiting daily, sitting early morning to early evening, mostly in silence. The Sage would sit with the man, eat with him, and share some conversation with him. When the Sage got up to walk through the wood, do a chore around the hut, cook, or something else, he would not let the man attend him, telling him to wait quietly where he was.
After a few days, in which the Sage had repeatedly told the man, “Be patient, I will give you something to do soon,” the man complained. He said, “I've come here to serve God, and you've given me nothing to do. This way, how can I learn?” Replied the Sage, “It took most of my life to learn something that I’m trying to teach you, and you can learn this." Intrigued, his frustration relaxing, the man asked what the lesson was. Answered the Sage, "One who cannot enjoy doing nothing for the Glory of God is ill-prepared to do something for the Glory of God."
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Taoism teaches "Non-Action," or "Non-Effort." This is central, also, in Zen Buddhism. In the words of the highly-esteemed translator of Chinese into English, author-translator of Tao Te Ching, John Minford, "Things just happen."
Another like concept of the Way is "Not-Contending." These symbols Taoists compare to water. Water just flows. It goes around apparent obstructions, and it continues its way. Water does not fight with a boulder or a tree fallen into the flow. One could look at a river, saying, "The water is moving" or "Moving is the water," but he or she could not say, "The water is moving itself" or "Movement is moving itself." The flow is integral, is one with, the water. Harmony. One cannot separate "water" and "flow," even as one cannot divide between "wind" and "gust."
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As to effort, I, at times, speak of not being effortful, to point to this paradoxical "Non-Action." We are, after all, not water. We have been endowed with a volitional capacity other beings of seen Nature do not have.
So, "Non-Action" does not mean not acting, or doing-nothing. One does something, but the sense is of being one with the doing: doer, doing, a single moving. This is like the leaf on the tree that is blown by the wind, wind and leaf and moving are one. This is like the inhale, stop, exhale in the breathing cycle. All-natural, with different degrees of volition among beings.
In the spirit of Things, one learns better to relax, welcoming intimacy between self and action, wherein selfing and acting are in harmony. If I think, "I will do this to glorify God," I have entered a division within the nature of Action. I have become a subject, with the conscious purpose of acting on God as an object. The action itself is not, then, in itself worthy, now it is worthy action only as a means, a conscious cause, from subject to object. I am acting on both the action and God, both being objects. In pure Action, this split is remedied in the return to the Way, that One-Moving-As-Many. Here, we know intimacy as bless-ing, as joy-ing, as love-ing. All is taking place, we are in the communion of the All-taking-place. So, earlier in meditation one may be taught about the witness as that aspect of consciousness that looks at what comes and goes. Here, there is not that distance, the witness is of that coming and going. So, this would be more like tantra, in which all things are moving together, and you are that all-moving-together.
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One could say, "Do not birds struggle against the wind to move through the air, when the wind is against them?" It looks so, yes. Is, however, the wind against the bird? The wind is being the wind, blowing, not thinking, "I'm against that bird." And the bird in apparent struggle does not mean the effort is not natural, is separate from the nature of the bird. The bird is flying, not at war with the wind, there being no aggression. And, often, you will see a bird adjust its body, so its wings, and, hence, being carried by the current. It adjusts, with less or more effort, based on conditions. Bird, flying, wind, sky, ... Intimacy.
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This is something we can practice in daily times of silence. One way, breathe in and out. Notice any gap between the in-breath-and-out-breath, and between the out-breath-and-in-breath. Allow thoughts, feelings, sensations to come and go. Be one with One, without the thought of One. Do not hold a thought like, "I'm meditating." Yet, if the thought of One, or meditation, or any other thought arises, let that come and go, too, like the breath breathing. Silence is happen-ing. Harmony is, for Life is.
One could question, "Can I do this always?" Theoretically "Yes," practically, likely "No." Yet, the Way is not something that simply is, the Way is inviting us to ever-learn Its way and how to live in accord with the naturalness of Life, so the naturalness of ourselves, for we are not separate from the Way. The wisdom of the Way is learning better how to live in accord with the Way, so with ourselves. When we stumble and fall, we naturally get up and begin walking again. That, too, is the way of the Way.
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A dear woman visited the Sage, having heard of his teachings on intimacy. She said, "I truly want to be intimate with whatever happens in my life. I cannot do that. At times, something happens, and I simply can't accept it. What am I to do?" Said the Sage, "Intimacy is intimacy with that."
Brian Wilcox. 'Winter's Ecstasy ~ Adroscoggin River Series ~ no. 19'