Friday, December 13, 2013

Another Look at the Laozi XVI

Scott Bradley

Know the honored by keeping to the disgraced, and you will be the valley of the world. Being the valley of the world, the power of sustainability will be whole, and you will return to the unhewn state.
(Laozi 28; Ziporyn)
How would you like to be the valley of the world? Or "the ravine of the world"? Or better yet, the swamp of the world? How about "the thoroughfare" of the world? Laozi thinks these are all positive attributes. How would you like to be the Way of the world, the path upon which everyone treads, spits and discards their waste? Not your idea of being a revered teacher? This was the ostensibly the way of Jesus, and he pulled it off — up to a point; but then he (?) and his followers couldn't really sustain it, so he's coming back to kick some serious ass and reign as king. I mean we can only take this Yin shit so far.

No, we would rather be mountains than valleys; esteemed than despised; yang than yin; powerful than weak; right than wrong; rich than poor; a success than a failure; someone than no one. And this, of course, is why meditating on "being the valley of the world" can be so challenging and illuminating.

Yet mountains erode and crumble, which is probably why so many who manage to become one so often leap from them, why so many who "have everything" so frequently self-destruct. Mountains are not sustainable, but the valleys and ravines are there to receive them.

"Who can free himself from achievement and fame, descend and be lost amidst the masses of men? He will go about like Dao, unseen. He will be like Life itself, with no home and no name." (Merton; The Way of Chuang-Tzu; from my uncertain memory)

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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