Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Wanderings - At a River Crossing, Part 1

Coming to the river at the border of Wei, the sages saw that the river was mightily swollen and the ferryman unwilling to attempt a crossing. As a consequence many other travelers were stranded at the shore.

“The waters are in a hurry to return to their Source!” exclaimed Tzu-yu. “As all the universe yearns for the Tao!”

“The sea is below and these waters above, how then can they have their source in the sea?” asked a man in the crowd.

“Do you not know the source of the rain from whose waters this river was born?” answered Tzu-yu. “For all abides in the Great Circle of Perpetual Return. The Tao is the Source and all things are the Tao.”

“What then is this Tao?” asked the ferryman. “How can I know it? Help me to believe!”

“’There is no Tao,’” answered Tzu-yu. “This alone can answer such a question. As it is written:

‘There are no answers
in Emptiness.
Questions do not arise.’

‘The Tao is found in emptiness.
In emptiness there is no Tao.’

Tao is a name that has no meaning, for the Tao is nameless and beyond all knowing. How can you believe when there is nothing to believe?”

“You speak in riddles, Sir,” replied the ferryman. “One who speaks as you can say anything and foist it upon the ignorant as true.”

“And you, Sir, are clearly not an ignorant man!” replied Tzu-yu. “For it is just as you say and I would have you believe nothing I say. But know that the message is not in the riddle but is the riddle itself; for what in all this broad and wonderful world can we truly know? Is not all but one Great Riddle? And this being so, is it not the greatest of folly to live our lives bound by foolish beliefs and false knowing?”

“If it is indeed as you say, Sir, then how is it that you speak of the Tao and claim to follow that which you do not know?”

“Truly you have the makings of a sage!” replied Tzu-yu. “Behold this great river! Let us entreat it to stop its downward rush and debate with us the reason for its journey. Let us inquire of it how it knows where to go and why it does not rather turn this way or that. But it will not listen or pay us any heed! So too, my friend, do you and I flow to the Source, though we do not know what, where or why. Yet, unlike this mighty river, we ask and fret and would swim against the tide. Here alone is the source of our great suffering. How then do I follow the Tao that I do not know? I let go my hold on all knowing and all caring and let the Flow carry me where it will. This, Sir, is to follow the Tao and to experience freedom beyond all reckoning.”

At this the ferryman and all that stood about were greatly moved and entreated the three sages to enter the ferryman’s shelter and there further instruct them.

This post is part of a series. To view the index, go here.

1 comment:

  1. "‘There are no answers
    in Emptiness.
    Questions do not arise.’"

    That would be the same point that pure Vedantist Jnani's would point to.

    Also of note is how the titles of 'Sadhu' and 'Sage' have similar roots and so this would be the point where I imagine a world before the borders we have imposed, where those who are now Indian and those who are now Chinese, and everyone inbetween, wandered a more natural path through a more natural world and all talked the same truth, that can not be spoken of.


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