Thursday 12. December 2019

Notes on the Tao Te Ching

“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures."

[It took me long to understand that, for example being in a hurry, is a sign of impatience, which is strongly related to fear. A type of fear that got internalized, by schooling, work or/and upbringing. I realized my constant hurry when I started to give a closer attention to my breathing patterns. I was shocked to find out, that I was rushing almost through the entire day. Noone would recognize this as being nervous or fearful in a outward or obvious sense, but the body nevertheless was giving me hints that there must be some sort of stress.
Just the other day, I was sitting next to a man at a Japanese Ramen place. The first thing he did after receiving his soup, was to pour the sweetened drink Calpis into the bowl. I was at first puzzled by this and in a way intrigued. "Oh, I never thought of that", was the first thing that crossed my mind. Was wondering how that might taste like. Out of curiosity I finally asked him if mixing Calpis gives the soup a good note. He looked at me in disbelief and said that he did that to cool down the heat of the soup. Clearly, he wasn't interested in how his food tastes like, he just wanted to be done with that unavoidable necessity called eating.
Being hurried while eating is a bad habit of mine too, but this guy just brought this to the next level. And that's my point, being rushed in everyday life is so normal that I hardly recognized it in myself. And the ironic thing about it, that eating slower or more consciously creates more effort and a weird form of anxiety. I couldn't find out what the actual motiv behind that anxiety is, but it helped me to slow down everyday tasks by simple recognizing that there is anxiety at all.]

There is no greater misfortune
than underestimating your enemy.
Underestimating your enemy
means thinking that he is evil.
Thus you destroy your three treasures
and become an enemy yourself.
When two great forces oppose each other,
the victory will go
to the one that knows how to yield.

[The simplicity and accuracy of that paragraph just blows my mind. I've been stubborn all my life. This was certainly helpful at times, but I'm recognizing how much more important it is to have a clear idea of another human beings behaivor then reacting to whatever is provoked within myself.  This is still a huge lifelesson I'm in, but I'm glad I've found one of the treasures "patience" when dealing with tough life situations.] 

Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.

Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

[I mean, yeah. One can easily get esoteric on the "let's all behave nice and the world will be nice" idea when reading this. However, I find that being patient with "enemies" is not as much as social conformity, but a sign of maturation. There are obviously differences between a situation where someone puts a gun to your head and wants your wallet, and let's say: a hostile neighbour or an unnerving kid that asks for attention. Mostly however, one can break most of the difficulties we encounter in life down to the later. An unnerving human who demands or imposes his/her behaivor to get attention. When there is compassion for oneself, there is no need for demands. Especially in a hostile way.   

The word patience comes, however, with a timeframe. So, I'm not sure if it is the right word in that context. Being patient can mean also that there is an effort made to hold back whatever sort of expression needs to be held back. That's the wrong turn for this subject. Accepting that there are hostile actions and not fighting their existance, rather allowing them to be, makes it easier to figure out how to behave appropriately. Accepting doesn't mean allowing or ignoring what is. On the contrary.] 

The world is not here to make you happy, it's here to wake you up.


- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

- Still from "The Red Desert" Michelangelo Antonioni