Monday, May 31, 2010

The Wanderings - The Surly Sage, Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1 of this story, you should go back to read it first.

After bathing, Tzu-yu found the surly sage in his humble hut tending his fire and boiling water for tea. “Sit here beside the fire, Sir,” said he, “for the day is crisp and the water for your bath was cold, as well I know. And soon we will have hot tea, though I regret it is but a bitter infusion of some nearby leaves.”

“But I have brought you some tea,” replied Tzu-yu, “for I know you are far from the valley below and your visitors, by design, are few. And more clearly still I am made aware that by your design it is so and that your surliness is feigned; for already your kindness is most apparent.”

“Ha,” answered the sage, “do not be too sure! For surliness I have and like to enjoy, and through surliness it is that I know the Tao!”

“But how can this be so?” asked Tzu-yu in surprise.

“Would you not agree,” responded the sage, “that the Tao is in all things equally; the great and the small; the noble man and the villain; the man that is joyous and man when he is angry?”

“It is so,” answered Tzu-yu.

“And in your life as a sage, wandering through the land,” continued the sage, “you learn and you grow through your encounters, whether with wise men or fools? And the generous and the thief? And of the two, by which are you most challenged and likely to learn?”

“It is in that which is less to my liking that I learn to transcend both liking and disliking and obtain the heavenly view,” answered Tzu-yu.

“And in yourself, by what are you most likely to grow? Is it in moments of joy in revelation or those moments when heaven seems closed?”

“It is in the things I dislike in myself that I best learn acceptance of all that is and thereby transcend all caring.”

“So it is, I say to you,” concluded the sage, “that I in my surliness am blessed beyond measure, for it is daily thereby I am challenged to accept all that is and care not at all. And in this am I led to the Tao!”

“Your insight is clear,” responded Tzu-yu, “and I would not debate, save only I would know whether this brings peace within. For it is my understanding that this peace is all that truly matters, though it matters not at all.”

“With this I heartily agree and can tell you, Sir, that in this experience of Tao I find inner harmony. For it makes no difference whether one is surly or gentle, for all things are equal and nothing greater than another. And if peace in the Tao required some bogus perfection, then no man living would know anything of harmony.

And I say this as well,” continued the sage, “that the self is like a hat, and one may put on any hat he will and it makes no difference which. Only he becomes a fool who thinks the hat is who he most truly is. We are a people who love hats, and funny ones at that! There are ceremonial hats and official hats. There are hats among the scholars and sages; the followers of Kung-fu-tzu have theirs, and the legalists, Mo-ists, Yangists all have theirs. And it is not the hats, nor the teachings they espouse, that lead them astray, but the folly of believing that the hats are who they are and that their teachings are pure and alone show the Way. Now I, Sir, don the hat of surliness and crazed mountain sage, but I do not believe for a moment that I am this or that my wisdom is more than a pale reflection of Reality.”

Thus the two sages shared a pleasant afternoon and evening of discussion and camaraderie in the Way. And in the morning, Tzu-yu descended the mountain with the tale that, yes, truly this was a Surly Sage!

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

1 comment:

  1. "If peace in the Tao required some bogus perfection, then no man living would know anything of harmony."



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