Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 6B

'That Tan-chû was not equal to his father, and Shun's son not equal to his; that Shun assisted Yâo, and Yü assisted Shun, for many years, conferring benefits on the people for a long time; that thus the length of time during which Shun, Yü, and Yî assisted in the government was so different; that Ch'î was able, as a man of talents and virtue, reverently to pursue the same course as Yü; that Yî assisted Yü only for a few years, and had not long conferred benefits on the people; that the periods of service of the three were so different; and that the sons were one superior, and the other superior: all this was from Heaven, and what could not be brought about by man. That which is done without man's doing is from Heaven. That which happens without man's causing is from the ordinance of Heaven.

'In the case of a private individual obtaining the throne, there must be in him virtue equal to that of Shun or Yü; and moreover there must be the presenting of him to Heaven by the preceding sovereign. It was on this account that Confucius did not obtain the throne.

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Afternoon Matinee: Jeffrey Patterson on Nuclear Power and Human Health

Flip Flops

Trey Smith

In all honesty, since I genuinely do not care which corporate candidate wins, I really haven't been paying that much attention to ANY of the ongoing political campaigns. However, from time to time, a political ad comes across the television before I can hit the mute button!!

One of the recurrent themes I've been seeing -- this theme is as old as the hills -- is that the other candidate is a flip-flopper. At one time, he/she said/did one thing and now he/she said/did something else. This is supposed to show that people who change their minds are not to be trusted!

If truth be told, each one of us is a flip-flopper and, believe it or not, flip-flopping isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, sagacious individuals can be some of the worst flip-floppers around.

Just because you or I believe something is good and true doesn't mean that we have to hold onto said belief in the face of new information. When I was 7 years old, I believed that Santa Claus was a real person. By the time I was 10, I had figured out that Santa was a fiction. In terms of my political stance on this issue, I flip-flopped from believing Santa was real to be believing he was not. (I also could have used the example of God. I have flip-flopped from believing in God's existence to now believing there is no God.)

Of course, the whole point in this political exercise of campaign season is to try to show that your opponent doesn't walk his/her talk. In some situations, it's true. Candidate A says one thing for one audience and something altogether different for another audience. In my book, such instances are fair game.

But a lot of the smear tactics pertain to situations in which a candidate actually changed his/her mind about a particular issue or course of action. My reaction to these cases is: So what? People change their minds all the time. There is nothing inherently wrong with that.

To suggest otherwise is petty.

Bit by Bit

Trey Smith

Beginning tomorrow in this time slot, I will set off on my next great adventure. Having written three series on the Tao Te Ching, the time has come for me to dive into the Zhuangzi. Before I launch this series, I want to note a few things.

First off, the Zhuangzi is a heck of a lot longer than TTC. Consequently, it would take me several decades -- I think -- if I tried to go line-by-line. This wouldn't do for another reason. Unlike Lao Tzu's poetry, much of the Zhuangzi is in paragraph form (at least, the English versions) and it contains many stories that span several paragraphs or pages. Consequently, looking at each line divorced from the others within each story or section simply wouldn't make a lot of sense!

While my intent is to chop up this long text into bite-sized pieces for daily digestion, there may be times when the quoted snippet is rather long. In some cases, it would be a great injustice to chop up a specific story as it would destroy its thrust and integrity. In those situations, I will endeavor to keep the story intact. In other cases, I will attempt to search for natural breaks in long sections.

The second thing I want to make clear is that I'm not offering this series as if I'm some kind of expert on the Zhuangzi. Scott has spent far more time reading and studying it than I have! My aim is to treat the text sort of like word association or ink blot exercise. I will offer a snippet and then we'll see what, if anything, it inspires me to write.

I'm sure there will be days in which it inspires me to write quite a bit. There may be other days in which I'm not inspired to write much...or anything. If no inspiration comes, I will try not to force it.

Finally, I may offer some quotes from a few others -- blogs, websites or books -- but don't expect this very often. While I have a number of books that analyze and comment on the TTC, my library for books that do the same with the Zhuangzi is VERY limited. I'm not saying that there are not books of this nature, but most of them are quite expensive and far outside of my limited budget.

So, for the most part, I'm flying solo on this one.

That said, I do have several different translations of the Zhuangzi at hand. In addition to the Watson translation featured in each post, I also have the Brooks Ziporyn, Gia-fu Feng/Jane English, Thomas Merton, Martin Palmer and Sam Hamill/J.P. Seaton translations as well. As I work on this series, I personally will refer to all of them in the hopes of gleaning different insights.

Who knows? During the course of this series, I may pick up a few more translations along the way.

I'm not sure how long this series will take. I'm guessing it will take a good long time, but I have no idea if it will go for a few months...or a few years. I guess we will just have to see, won't we?

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 6A

Wan Chang asked Mencius, saying, 'People say, "When the disposal of the kingdom came to Yü, his virtue was inferior to that of Yâo and Shun, and he transmitted it not to the worthiest but to his son." Was it so?' Mencius replied, 'No; it was not so. When Heaven gave the kingdom to the worthiest, it was given to the worthiest. When Heaven gave it to the son of the preceding sovereign, it was given to him. Shun presented Yü to Heaven.

'Seventeen years elapsed, and Shun died. When the three years' mourning was expired, Yü withdrew from the son of Shun to Yang-ch'ang. The people of the kingdom followed him just as after the death of Yâo, instead of following his son, they had followed Shun. Yü presented Yî to Heaven. Seven years elapsed, and Yü died. When the three years' mourning was expired, Yî withdrew from the son of Yü to the north of mount Ch'î. The princes, repairing to court, went not to Yî, but they went to Ch'î. Litigants did not go to Yî, but they went to Ch'î, saying, "He is the son of our sovereign;" the singers did not sing Yî, but they sang Ch'î, saying, "He is the son of our sovereign."

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - You Are Not You Are

Step outside of your mind. What you are is perfection. What you are not is perfectible.

Who are you again? Be sure to identify with the true self, not the constructed false one. Then you will realize your inherent perfection without a second of effort.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

The Xin-Xin Ming XIII: Affirmation

Scott Bradley

When you try to stop activity to achieve quietude, your very effort fills you with activity. As long as you remain attached to one extreme or another you will never know Oneness. Those who do not live in the Single Way cannot be free in either activity or quietude, in assertion or denial.
The Bible tells us, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" I can only agree. Only I would add that he is also a fool who says there is one; though if one were attached to neither assertion, she would not be inclined to denigrate either.

Atheism is as much a belief as theism. Both are assertions and denials. It may, however, be possible to lean to one without the denial of the other; it is a question of open- or closed-mindedness. Agnosticism, "not-knowing", leaves the question open while not passing judgment on those for whom it is not. But this is not the passive agnosticism of the disengaged. This is an agnosticism that sees itself as a 'skillful means' whereby one might open him- or herself to a reality beyond knowing.

There is belief and there is disbelief. Both are assertions, positive or negative. Both are decisive in their choice of content. Then there is doubt. Doubt, in this context, is openness. It attaches to neither extreme, but opens itself to the mystical possibility without the need of either assertion or denial.

There is assertion; something is so. There is denial; something is not so. Then there is affirmation; whether things are so or not so is of no consequence; however they are, they are affirmed.

"All things," Zhuangzi tells us, "are acceptable." Is this an assertion? Yes; but he also tells us that "All things are unacceptable." Where acceptable and unacceptable are decisive assertions of preference, they are but the extremes of the discriminating mind. Where both are understood as the assertion of preference, there is the possibility of the inclusive affirmation of both.

All things are affirmable by virtue of their being so, without the need of even knowing what is "so". Where there is Oneness, there is all-inclusive affirmation. Yes.

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

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 5D

'Shun assisted Yâo in the government for twenty and eight years; this was more than man could have done, and was from Heaven. After the death of Yâo, when the three years' mourning was completed, Shun withdrew from the son of Yâo to the south of South river. The princes of the kingdom, however, repairing to court, went not to the son of Yâo, but they went to Shun. Litigants went not to the son of Yâo, but they went to Shun. Singers sang not the son of Yâo, but they sang Shun. Therefore I said, "Heaven gave him the throne." It was after these things that he went to the Middle Kingdom, and occupied the seat of the Son of Heaven. If he had, before these things, taken up his residence in the palace of Yâo, and had applied pressure to the son of Yâo, it would have been an act of usurpation, and not the gift of Heaven.

'This sentiment is expressed in the words of The Great Declaration, "Heaven sees according as my people see; Heaven hears according as my people hear."'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Afternoon Matinee: Dr. Helen Caldicott on Fukushima and the Perils of Nuclear Power

So, Who Is King of the Jungle?

Trey Smith

As the Abrahamic religions tell us, humankind is the species created in the image of the creator. It's not just those religions either; a good deal of belief systems posit the very same thing. And why not? From our perspective, we're the smartest, most innovative species this world has ever known. We have harnessed technology to better our lives and no one yet has found a tree or a butterfly who can recite poetry!

Yes, we must be the kings of the jungle. No other organism is as powerful as human beings...

...except pathogens! Every time we think we have vanquished one, scores more take their place. While a pathogen never built a skyscraper, there's a better than even chance that, at the end of the day, the pathogens will live on and Homo Sapiens will become just another extinct and forgotten species!
Just as predators have their accustomed prey, so do pathogens. And just as a lion might occasionally depart from its normal behaviour – to kill a cow instead of a wildebeest, or a human instead of a zebra – so a pathogen can shift to a new target. Aberrations occur. When a pathogen leaps from an animal into a person, and succeeds in establishing itself as an infectious presence, sometimes causing illness or death, the result is a zoonosis.

It's a mildly technical term, zoonosis, unfamiliar to most people, but it helps clarify the biological complexities behind the ominous headlines about swine flu, bird flu, Sars, emerging diseases in general, and the threat of a global pandemic. It's a word of the future, destined for heavy use in the 21st century.

Ebola and Marburg are zoonoses. So is bubonic plague. So was the so-called Spanish influenza of 1918–1919, which had its source in a wild aquatic bird and emerged to kill as many as 50 million people. All of the human influenzas are zoonoses. As are monkeypox, bovine tuberculosis, Lyme disease, West Nile fever, rabies and a strange new affliction called Nipah encephalitis, which has killed pigs and pig farmers in Malaysia. Each of these zoonoses reflects the action of a pathogen that can "spillover", crossing into people from other animals.
Hmm. Who looks to be the king of the jungle now?

Taken for Granted

Trey Smith

It can be so easy to become complacent. You get used to things being a certain way and you just come to expect that they will always be that way.

As I have chronicled in this space for five years, rain and South Bend are synonymous. While much of the US has been in the grips of a persistent drought, we on the left coast don't have to worry about such things. Why should we? It rains here all the time!

Except, of course, when it doesn't.

Since the beginning of August, we have only received a little less than seven tenths of an inch of rain. That comes out to approximately 4 inches below normal. There is no rainfall forecast for the next two weeks and the US Drought Monitor has added Southwest Washington to an area in which drought is expected to persist through, at least, the end of this year.

I've spoken to several long time locals and most of them are stupefied. This kind of weather pattern simply doesn't happen around here. No one can remember the last time it remained dry for months on end. A few of them have even remarked that, maybe, there is something to this global warming "theory" after all.

Ya think?

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 5C

Chang said, 'I presume to ask how it was that Yâo presented Shun to Heaven, and Heaven accepted him; and that he exhibited him to the people, and the people accepted him.' Mencius replied, 'He caused him to preside over the sacrifices, and all the spirits were well pleased with them; thus Heaven accepted him. He caused him to preside over the conduct of affairs, and affairs were well administered, so that the people reposed under him; thus the people accepted him. Heaven gave the throne to him. The people gave it to him. Therefore I said, "The sovereign cannot give the throne to another."
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - Liberation

You do not become a liberated being, but liberated from being a being.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

The Xin-Xin Ming VII: Shut Up?

Scott Bradley

"The more you talk and think about it, the farther you wander from the truth. So cease attachment to talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know."

I've been avoiding this one, but it's time to face the music. Needless to say, I figure I've found a way to dance out of trouble here, but that'll be for you to decide.

Words are not, nor have they ever been the problem. Like any addiction, it is not the thing attached to, but the nature of the attachment that matters. As long as words know their place, what they can and cannot do, there is no problem. It is like the understanding mind itself; finding its limits is its perfection; it's done all that it can do and understands that there may be other ways of 'knowing'.

Words only become a problem when we would have them do what they cannot do. If we believe they can encapsulate 'truth', as in a creed, we cannot go beyond them. This would be an "attachment" that would take us farther from the 'truth', which is experiential.

Seng-Ts'an spoke these words because he had no other way to communicate to the many what lies beyond words. They are the proverbial finger pointing at the moon, not the moon.

There is a time to shut up, but it is not here; for there is no other way to communicate over this distance, unless it be through art.

When Laozi wrote the famous words, "Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know", of what did he speak? He spoke of that which cannot be spoken. He pointed to Mystery, and reaffirmed that it must always remain such. And, like Zhuangzi, he understood that this is an invitation to go where words cannot go. The limitations of words are not an impenetrable barrier, but a launch pad to a fuller reality.

The reason that those who know do not speak is that there is nothing that can be said. What do they 'know'? At the least, that they cannot cognitively know Mystery; they can only open themselves into it. At the most, they have experienced an integration into Mystery which leaves them wordless.

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

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 5B

'"It showed its will by his personal conduct and his conduct of affairs:" how was this?' Mencius's answer was, 'The sovereign can present a man to Heaven, but he cannot make Heaven give that man the throne. A prince can present a man to the sovereign, but he cannot cause the sovereign to make that man a prince. A great officer can present a man to his prince, but he cannot cause the prince to make that man a great officer. Yâo presented Shun to Heaven, and Heaven accepted him. He presented him to the people, and the people accepted him. Therefore I say, "Heaven does not speak. It simply indicated its will by his personal conduct and his conduct of affairs."'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Afternoon Matinee: Children of Chernobyl (WARNING: Graphic)

The Xin-Xin Ming Ming VI: Be Serene

Scott Bradley

"Be serene and at one with things and erroneous views will disappear by themselves."
"When the mind rests undisturbed in the Way, there is no objection to anything in the world."
"When in harmony with the nature of things, your own fundamental nature, you will walk freely and undisturbed."

After someone has seen through the ridiculous, made-up nature of the ideas that give them pain, Byron Katie often assures them that she is not asking them to "let them go". To attempt to do so would be to give them a measure of life they would not otherwise have. To confront and fight an idea is simply to give it greater substance. Instead, we can focus on the reality of which the idea is a negation.

And what is that reality? That all is well.

In some sense the Xin-Xin Ming, though wonderfully simple, seems impractical. Be serene and all will be well. More easily said than done. Yet, in another sense it is wonderfully practical; it speaks to us about that place where mind actually meets reality. It speaks to that place where the rubber truly meets the road. How do we relate to each and every event, every thing that happens? If it is an affirming and accepting of the world, our perceived world, just as it is, there is harmony, rest and serenity.

Circumstances need not determine our inner reality; it is our attitude that determines circumstances. As Shakespeare had Hamlet say, "There is neither good nor evil, but it is our mind that makes them so."

When we are in harmony, there is no objection to anything in the world. When there is no objection to anything in the world there is harmony. If we are at work on the cultivation of harmony, our focus is best placed here, on the moment to moment relation of the mind to perceived reality. How do we perceive it? It is only this — how we perceive it. There is no narrower focus and yet there is nothing left out.

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

Cleansing the Palate

Trey Smith

Now that Della and I are beginning the process of getting in downsize mode, we have started the long process of culling through all the junk we've either been toting around for years or have picked up here in South Bend. While I would venture to guess that we have a lot less stuff than the average family, that certainly does not mean our collection is small. We simply have less stuff because we have gotten into the habit of culling through it each year.

To make the process a bit more arduous, we must admit that both of us are packrats. A packrat isn't as bad as a hoarder, but the line between the two can be thin.

But I'm happy to report that -- unlike the days of yore -- I have become much more accomplished in casting things aside. Too often I have held onto nonessential belongings in the mistaken belief that I will spend time looking at this stuff at my leisure. Truth be told, the ONLY time I even remember that I have this or that occurs when packing up to move or unpacking at a new residence!!

To provide an example, I have held onto clothing items from my deceased mother and maternal grandparents. These items fall into the category of keepsakes. The problem, however, is that these cherished keepsakes sit in boxes in attics or basements, hardly ever seeing the light of day,

What's the point in that? It's one thing if you might use keepsakes or have them on display, but having them packed away in boxes that you almost never look in seems kind of silly.

Yesterday, I did something that I never would have dreamed that I would do voluntarily. I sorted through the box of books that belonged to my late mother and decided that there was only one that I might read at some later date. The rest of them ended up in the donate pile.

While I did keep several items of clothing, I decided to add to the donate box a cardigan sweater and dress of my mother's that are still in relatively good shape. Yes, I did feel little pangs of melancholy, but not as much as in year's past. I realize that in order to prepare ourselves for new experiences, it is important to cleanse the palate of the stale tastes of the past.

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 5A

Wan Chang said, 'Was it the case that Yâo gave the throne to Shun?' Mencius said, 'No. The sovereign cannot give the throne to another.'

'Yes; but Shun had the throne. Who gave it to him?' 'Heaven gave it to him,' was the answer.

'" Heaven gave it to him:" did Heaven confer its appointment on him with specific injunctions?'

Mencius replied, 'No. Heaven does not speak. It simply showed its will by his personal conduct and his conduct of affairs.'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - Get This Straight

You produce reality, you do not experience reality.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

The Xin-Xin Ming V: Reality

Scott Bradley

"The Way is perfect, as vast space is perfect, where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess. Indeed, it due to our grasping and rejecting that we do not know the true nature of things."

Can we in fact "know the true nature of things"? I don't think so, but neither do I think it matters. What does seem clear, however, is that we can have an experience wherein we might believe we have come to 'know' the true nature of things, and that is certainly worth having.

But again, does it matter whether it is or is not? Why would that matter unless we believed that it should? But if we believed that it should, then we would be 'grasping' for something, some 'ground', something upon which to depend.

It's all subjectivity, of course. Pure subjectivity. It's not about something out there, but about that of which the mind is capable of experiencing in and as itself. What does Reality have to do with it? Perhaps everything; perhaps nothing. But once again, why should that matter? Surely, we are not in search of The Answer?

This experience of Dao is one of vastness. Zhuangzi describes it as "the vast wilds of open nowhere." Boundless. Limitless. Indefinable. Nowhere. Undifferentiated. It contains all things, yet there are no things. In what way can we participate in it? We cannot. We can only be it. But to be it is not to be any specific someone.

I blabber. What possible point could this post have but for me, together with you, to meditate on this Dao? Perhaps we might get an inkling. Perhaps we might get more than that.

But Seng-Ts'an does give us some practical instruction. It is in the absence of grasping and rejecting, of choosing, of preferring, of liking and disliking that this experience arises. We might also try that. He also tells us that if we can manage to do so for even a moment, we will have more than just an inkling.

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

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 4D

'Of all which a filial son can attain to, there is nothing greater than his honoring his parents. And of what can be attained to in the honoring one's parents, there is nothing greater than the nourishing them with the whole kingdom. Kû-sâu was the father of the sovereign; this was the height of honor. Shun nourished him with the whole kingdom; this was the height of nourishing. In this was verified the sentiment in the Book of Poetry,
"Ever cherishing filial thoughts,
Those filial thoughts became an example to after ages."
'It is said in the Book of History, "Reverently performing his duties, he waited on Kû-sâu, and was full of veneration and awe. Kû-sâu also believed him and conformed to virtue." This is the true case of the scholar of complete virtue not being treated as a son by his father.'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Afternoon Matinee: Chernobyl - The Real Story

Ahead, Not Behind

Trey Smith

As I detailed in three posts yesterday, my wife and I have come to the conclusion that we will most likely need to give up our house. It's not something we relish doing, but we've come to realize that we don't have (and probably will never have) the financial stability for this to be sustainable.

So, I decided to be proactive in regards to this issue. We purchased our home through the USDA Rural Development Direct Home Loan Program and so I called USDA to discuss the various options available and the ramifications of each one. Well, I suppose I should say that this was my intent because I received very little information about options or ramifications.

You see, bureaucracies are not used to people being proactive. No, they expect to deal with borrowers ONLY after borrowers have gotten behind on their mortgage payments. At that juncture, USDA starts sending out letters threatening foreclosure. Since I'm a rather intelligent bloke and I realize the direction this situation is headed, my hope is to work with them BEFORE we get to that point.

To my utter amazement, my proactive stance was rebuffed. Why? Well, according to one USDA rep, they can't offer us any options UNTIL we begin falling behind on our mortgage payments!! In other words, they are trying to dissuade me from getting out in front of the problem and to wait until the problem mushrooms!

I'm not so easily dissuaded. I'm going to keep working on this issue. I'm fairly certain I will encounter more resistance and this will lead me toward greater frustration, but I feel that the responsible thing to do is to try to head off a major problem before it becomes too big and swallows us up.

Me thinks Laozi would agree.

Love the One You're With

Trey Smith

Having sex before marriage is the best choice for nearly everyone.

How do I know? Well, first of all, nearly everyone has sex before marriage – 95% of Americans don't wait until their wedding night. And that's a longstanding American value. Even among folks in my grandparents' generation, nine out of ten of them had sex before they wed.

Of course, just because lots of people do a thing doesn't mean it's a good thing. But sex is. In terms of happiness, sex is better than money, and having sex once a week instead of once a month is the "happiness equivalent" of an extra $50,000 a year. People with active sex lives live longer. Sex releases stress, boosts immunities, helps you sleep and is heart-healthy.

Sex is good whether you're married or not, and certainly folks who wait until marriage can have a lot of sex once they tie the knot. But waiting until marriage often means both early marriage and conservative views on marriage and gender – and people who marry early and/or hold traditional views on marriage and gender tend to have higher divorce rates and unhappier marriages.
~ from The Moral Case for Sex Before Marriage by Jill Filipovic ~
Part of "growing up" is experiencing different things. When we are young, most adults encourage us to date or get to know a wide variety of people. The thinking here is that, in order to "know" which partners may be right for you, you need a sample of more than one!

From my perspective, this general rule applies to sexual relationships just as much as any other type of relationship.

If you have only been intimate with one person, then how can you figure out if you're having good sex or not? It would be like judging the taste of all vegetables when the only vegetable you'd ever eaten is turnips! Hey, you might love turnips, but you might love parsnips or radishes even more.

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 4C

'If we simply take single sentences, there is that in the ode called "The Milky Way,"
Of the black-haired people of the remnant of Châu,
There is not half a one left."
'If it had been really as thus expressed, then not an individual of the people of Châu was left.
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - Discount To See the Best in the World

At many times the language used will appear to say you must discount the world. This is both necessary and unfortunate. It is necessary as language is limited and there is a desire to encourage the seeker to go beyond the mind, it is often necessary to seem to discount the world.

It is unfortunate, however, as the world is just this, it is a wonder and a delight, your playground; so it is unfortunate that the seeker is asked to discount it at times, but as said, necessary.

All false has root in the true. False comes and goes and changes, so is false, truth is ever the same. So the world, seen as is, is a delight and even though it fits the definition of the false due to its transience, it is rooted in truth. When it is seen from truth, it is magical.

So the efforts to discount it have high value.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

The Xin-Xin Ming IV: Senseless Weariness

Scott Bradley

". . . the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness. What benefit is derived from attachment to distinctions and separations?"
"When the fundamental nature of things is not recognized the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail."

Smoking more, but enjoying it less? Lucky Strikes used to claim themselves to be the remedy. Needless to say, they weren't interested in discussing the heart of the problem: addiction.

I don't know that I am judging more, but I am certainly enjoying it less. What a burden! What weariness! Perhaps I am judging more — judging myself for judging — as if changing brands would make a difference. Here indeed is a vicious and descending spiral of weariness.

And what does it accomplish? What "benefit" is derived? It's all to "no avail". This is the great irony. I rail against the Republicans, disturb my peace, and . . . nothing has changed. No one is saved. No one is convinced. The world goes on as before. Only I have made myself miserable and added just one more bit of harmful stress to my poor abused body.

Judging is indeed a strange addiction.

And I haven't even considered the consequence to the abused other. What have I sowon? Discord? Yes, but harmony is just an ephemeral virtue. Much more visceral is the burdensome response of anger and subsequent weariness I have orchestrated in the other. And I have in effect shortened the life of that other. I have blown secondhand smoke right up his nose.

Somehow being right just doesn't seem so right anymore.

What an addiction!

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 4B

Hsien-ch'iû Mang said, 'On the point of Shun's not treating Yâo as a minister, I have received your instructions. But it is said in the Book of Poetry,
Under the whole heaven,
Every spot is the sovereign's ground;
To the borders of the land,
Every individual is the sovereign's minister;"
and Shun had become sovereign. I venture to ask how it was that Kû-sâu was not one of his ministers.' Mencius answered, 'That ode is not to be understood in that way: it speaks of being laboriously engaged in the sovereign's business, so as not to be able to nourish one's parents, as if the author said, "This is all the sovereign's business, and how is it that I alone am supposed to have ability, and am made to toil in it?" Therefore, those who explain the odes, may not insist on one term so as to do violence to a sentence, nor on a sentence so as to do violence to the general scope. They must try with their thoughts to meet that scope, and then we shall apprehend it.
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

A New Direction

Trey Smith

Now that we've decided that Della needs a different profession AND that we need to give up on home ownership, we need to look toward a new direction. The strategy that we've come up with involves AmeriCorps.

I don't expect that any of our current readers were with this blog when it began back in 2005. If I'm wrong and a few of you have hung around this long, then you might be shocked to see me suggest that AmeriCorps figures in our current calculations! Back in 2005, I was accepted into this national program and then unceremoniously dumped before I even started due to some rather interesting reasons. (You can read about them here.)

What my past experience basically came down to was that I seemed like the perfect candidate on the telephone (the way many VISTA interviews are conducted), but my potential site supervisor did an abrupt about-face once he met the very strange me!! At the time, I was outraged, but in retrospect, he probably made the right call. There is almost NO chance I would have fit into his conservative agency in that decidedly conservative town. Besides that, I am a very peculiar person with very peculiar ways.

But just because AmeriCorps didn't work out for me, that doesn't mean it can't work out for Della. She's a lot less strange than I am and she's FAR, FAR more social. She mixes well with others and most people tend to think highly of her (though they do wonder why she's married to that tall strange fellow).

Unlike over-educated me, Della does not possess any college degrees. At almost 48 years old, she's not inclined to tromp off to earn a BA or anything like that. She would like to return to preschool education -- she worked for 7 years in the Head Start Program in Salem, Oregon -- or some other paraprofessional job in an education setting.

But it's hard to get back into the field with no recent experience. She last worked in the Head Start Program in 2005 and so her experience is becoming outdated. That's where AmeriCorps comes in. Next fall there will be a plethora of opportunities to join the Washington Reading Corps. Individuals are assigned to schools all over the state to tutor students who are having academic difficulties. In exchange for a volunteer's service, a monthly stipend of around $1,000 is paid.

If Della can snag one of these opportunities and we can find living quarters in Senior and/or Disabled Public Housing -- we're eligible because of my disability -- then Della could gain valuable experience that could lead to a job later AND our housing expenses would be much reduced. We would still be dirt poor, but what else is new? We're rather used to going without.

Della is very excited about this possibility. In almost every town we've lived in, she has volunteered with one or more area nonprofits. She is a very service-oriented and nurturing person -- two of the reasons why I married her!!

So, this is the new course we've decided on. That doesn't mean that is the direction ultimately we will go, but that is what we are setting our sights on.

Afternoon Matinee: Buy Local - A Look at Community Supported Agriculture

Staring Reality in the Face

Trey Smith

As mentioned in my last post, Della's dismissal from her main job has caused the two of us to face up to some things that, to be frank, we have tried to avoid thinking about.

The first of these things is that Della's work as an in-home caregiver is too hard on her own body and mind. This point really has been brought home to me over the past two weeks. During this time, she has complained a lot less about her various nagging aches and pains. Except for the times she gets down on herself for being fired, her overall mood has been far more positive. Not only have I noticed this change, but she has too.

This realization has placed us in a strange situation. In order to keep our financial heads above water, Della needs to get more caregiver hours (there aren't any other jobs in this area that come with the good health insurance she receives from her union for being a caregiver), but the more caregiver hours she garners means that her general health -- both physical and mental -- will be more compromised. It becomes a "robbing Peter to pay Paul" situation.

From our perspective, we'd like to see Della get to the 125 - 135 hour per month range. She earns $10.33/hour, so that would equate to roughly $1290 - $1390. Couple that amount with my monthly disability check and we could keep our house and eke out a meager existence. Well, that is UNTIL some sort of emergency arose (e.g., major car repair, serious illness, refrigerator gives out, etc.). Our meager budget would preclude having the financial wherewithal to deal with almost ANY kind of non-budgeted expense.

And let's be honest here. Unexpected expenses are part of life. Yes, we may luck out and not face any for a few months or years, but sooner or later, they WILL crop up. When this happens, what in the heck could we do? The answer is: Not much!!

Imagine if our car went on the fritz. Let's say we took it to the local repair shop and they gave us an estimate of $500. I can tell you right now that we won't have $500 sitting around gathering dust. Della's job mandates that she has to have reliable transportation and, if el carro no worko, then Della no worko either. If Della no worko, then we shortly won't be able to keep the lights on, the toilets flushing OR our mortgage paid.

Looking at our situation, we've come to realize that our time as homeowners needs to come to an end. We've somehow managed to get this far, but our dwindling financial resources in conjunction with Della's health issues necessitates that we need to stare reality in the face and not blink. We need to downsize in a major (and painful) way.

I will need to give up on my home gardening project. I need to let go of my desire to live in a two-story and multi-bedroom house. We will most likely never have a wood-burning fireplace again. Worst of all, we eventually will need to surrender most of or all of our cherished animal buddies.

This process won't be easy, but it is needed.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Trey Smith

No one likes to be told that you're no longer wanted, particularly when no reason is given. For the past two weeks, my wife has been trying to keep her spirits up, but it's difficult to do when you get fired from a job.

Her firing has caused us to reassess our situation. We have come to two conclusions: 1) If she is not able to secure more hours from different clients, we will be unable to pay our mortgage at some point and 2) The kind of work that Della is doing -- in-home care services for individuals with varying disabilities and other health issues -- is ruining HER health. So, while we hope she can secure more hours in the immediate short-term (she recently picked up another 20 hours per month from a new client), we need to move another direction in the long-term. (I'll share the direction we hope to head in a subsequent post.)

While Della is fighting depression and low self-esteem due to being terminated, my issue has more to do with anger. She had worked for this family for nearly 3 1/2 years and it just galls the heck out of me that, after all she's done for them, they just so cavalierly kicked her to the curb!!

This family has not been easy to work for. They routinely have made unrealistic demands and they always seemed to be switching schedules. In the period Della worked for them, they went through nearly one dozen home care workers and yet my wife was the one constant.

When other workers failed to show up, Della would be called and, in almost every instance, she dropped what she was doing and went in. When a family emergency arose a few months ago and the family flew back east, Della went to live at their house for over a week to give constant care to the client. When the client was hospitalized, it was Della, not the family, who accompanied her to the hospital and stayed with her until she knew the client was comfortable.

Time and time again, Della was asked to go above and beyond the call of duty and, with very few exceptions, she did. She did this, not only because she takes her job seriously, but she truly cared for her client.

So, Della was caught completely off guard when the family suggested that she take off one-half of September to focus on herself. The initial idea expressed was that the family wanted to reduce her stress, but they somehow didn't factor in that being far poorer than usual is, in and of itself, stressful!

Of course, we later learned that this tack was nothing more than a ruse. When Della was scheduled to return, she was told that she no longer had a job! No reason was offered as to WHY she had been replaced. She wasn't thanked for her devoted service to this family. They basically told her, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out!"

On the surface, this is a bad situation, but, as Zhuangzi likes to remind us, a seemingly bad situation may turn out for the better or vice versa. We'll have to see which this is.

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 4A

Hsien-ch'iû Mang asked Mencius, saying, 'There is the saying, "A scholar of complete virtue may not be employed as a minister by his sovereign, nor treated as a son by his father. Shun stood with his face to the south, and Yâo, at the head of all the princes, appeared before him at court with his face to the north. Kû-sâu also did the same. When Shun saw Kû-sâu, his countenance became discomposed. Confucius said, At this time, in what a perilous condition was the kingdom! Its state was indeed unsettled." I do not know whether what is here said really took place.'

Mencius replied, 'No. These are not the words of a superior man. They are the sayings of an uncultivated person of the east of Ch'î. When Yâo was old, Shun was associated with him in the government. It is said in the Canon of Yâo, "After twenty and eight years, the Highly Meritorious one deceased. The people acted as if they were mourning for a father or mother for three years, and up to the borders of the four seas every sound of music was hushed." Confucius said, "There are not two suns in the sky, nor two sovereigns over the people." Shun having been sovereign, and, moreover, leading on all the princes to observe the three years' mourning for Yâo, there would have been in this case two sovereigns.'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - From Self Consciousness to Self Knowledge

'I am' is the intensified self consciousness. Run to its climax, self consciousness ends in self knowledge.

This trick is deliberately and necessarily beyond the mind and logic.

When self consciousness has become so intense and self knowledge is born, the inner 'i' self is burned and replaced with the true 'I'. This is unable to be self conscious and it is not an intense spot in a person, it is an infinite I, absent of space, place, time, idea.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

The Xin-Xin Ming III: Truth

Scott Bradley

"Do not seek for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions."
"If you wish to know the truth, then hold no opinions for or against anything."

One reason these verses from the Xin-Xin Ming speak so powerfully to me is because I am a man of many opinions. What could be more difficult than to actually live this, if only for a moment?

I often catch myself grinding my teeth about something or another and when I question myself as to why the answer will mostly be that the 'cause' is the 'truth'. It is true that that person's behavior is incorrect for such and such reason. Yet, this 'truth' is as far removed from the truth to which Seng-Ts'an alludes as it is possible to be.

The truth of opinion has its corresponding opposite, the false. The Republicans have their truths which are the negation of the truths of the Democrats, and vice versa. We choose and hold our opinions in agreement with one or the other. But, for the most part, it's the Republicans who are wrong, who twist the facts beyond what reason will bear. I don't say this facetiously; I mean it. That's my opinion. If we want to talk politics, this is the realm in which we must work, the realm of opinion. Like most everything, it has its proper place.

The truth of Seng-Ts'an, on the other hand, really has nothing to do with truth at all. What is it? We cannot say. It has absolutely nothing to do with words at all. If it could be expressed in words, it would only be opinion. "All is one; One is all." This is opinion. There are multitudes who hold a different opinion. Seng-Ts'an's truth transcends all this and we see its shadow in his statement that even this One does not exist. This truth is experiential and subjective; no words could possibly suggest it, for there is nothing objective to say.

We know all this. But to experience it we would have to first free ourselves from the realm of opinion.

If we were able to do so, would we then be unable to have and express opinions? I don’t think so. We would simply be able to do so with the emotional detachment that would not vilify others of different opinion. Romney, for instance, would not be evil, but just an overly ambitious, mean-spirited elitist. I still have a lot of work to do.

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 3C

Wan Chang said, 'I venture to ask what you mean by saying that some supposed that it was a banishing of Hsiang?' Mencius replied, 'Hsiang could do nothing in his State. The Son of Heaven appointed an officer to administer its government, and to pay over its revenues to him. This treatment of him led to its being said that he was banished. How indeed could he be allowed the means of oppressing the people? Nevertheless, Shun wished to be continually seeing him, and by this arrangement, he came incessantly to court, as is signified in that expression "He did not wait for the rendering of tribute, or affairs of government, to receive the prince of Yû-pî."
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Afternoon Matinee: Sustainable Agriculture - Curing America's Eating Disorder

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 3B

Wan Chang said, 'Shun banished the superintendent of works to Yû-châu; he sent away Hwan-tâu to the mountain Ch'ung; he slew the prince of San-miâo in San-wei; and he imprisoned Kwân on the mountain Yü. When the crimes of those four were thus punished, the whole kingdom acquiesced: it was a cutting off of men who were destitute of benevolence. But Hsiang was of all men the most destitute of benevolence, and Shun raised him to be the prince of Yû-pî; of what crimes had the people of Yû-pî been guilty? Does a benevolent man really act thus? In the case of other men, he cut them off; in the case of his brother, he raised him to be a prince.'

Mencius replied, 'A benevolent man does not lay up anger, nor cherish resentment against his brother, but only regards him with affection and love. Regarding him with affection, he wishes him to be honorable: regarding him with love, he wishes him to be rich. The appointment of Hsiang to be the prince of Yû-pî was to enrich and ennoble him. If while Shun himself was sovereign, his brother had been a common man, could he have been said to regard him with affection and love?'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - Always On Offer, Always Just Here

The self is always enlightened and always offering enlightenment to the false non-I ego-i.

The ego-i is unable to grasp the gift though as there is no false i, only the idea of one.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

The Xin-Xin Ming II: Non-Duality

Scott Bradley

The principal focus of the Xin-Xin Ming is the experience of non-duality. It is the home of the famous words: All is One; One is All. There is so much here upon which to feed, and there is much to be gained in doing so. But we are also exhorted to go beyond any and all conceptualization of Oneness: "Although all dualities arise from this One, do not attach to ideas of even this One." (Richard B. Clarke; throughout unless otherwise indicated) "When such dualities cease to exist, Oneness itself cannot exist". The reason for this is obvious: "Don't waste your time in arguments and discussion attempting to grasp the ungraspable."

Non-duality is not a concept, but an experience. It is transcendence of the discriminating mind, the source of all dualities.

I have not had this experience. If that puts you off my verbal kibble, you might wish to move on to another bowl. Only I would remind you that even Seng-Ts'an, though he presumably did have this experience, can also only offer you words, though obviously with infinitely greater authority. Yet even authoritative words cannot give one the experience.

Non-duality is suggested to us as that which transcends mutually arising opposites. The given examples of these are many: liking/disliking, loving/hating, grasping/rejecting, activity/rest, right/wrong, true/false, subject/object, self/other, gain/loss, small/large, and yes, enlightenment/delusion.

All these normal human cognitive activities are opportunities to realize the possibility of another way. I envision the mind as an "unsinkable" Titanic breaking upon these bergs. In this sense, they are like koans. Seng-Ts'an no doubt saw the experience as principally arising out of meditative practice, yet he also thought it helpful to point out the barriers which present themselves in this, our cognitive sea.

Is it with a sense of irony that he writes his first verse? "The Great Way is not difficult for those not attached to preferences." It's as easy as pie for those who have managed that which is the most difficult thing of all.

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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 3A

Wan Chang said, 'Hsiang made it his daily business to slay Shun. When Shun was made sovereign, how was it that he only banished him?' Mencius said, 'He raised him to be a prince. Some supposed that it was banishing him?'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Afternoon Matinee: Going 'Beyond Pesticides' to Save the Bee Population

Break Time

Trey Smith

I'm going to take a one, two or three day break from writing as my wife and I crunch numbers and try to figure out our next moves. The regular features will still be here -- Mencius, Afternoon Matinee, Scott and Ta-Wan. I'll be back writing again before ya know it!

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 2C

Chang said, 'In that case, then, did not Shun rejoice hypocritically?' Mencius replied, 'No. Formerly, some one sent a present of a live fish to Tsze-ch'an of Chang. Tsze-ch'an ordered his pond-keeper to keep it in the pond, but that officer cooked it, and reported the execution of his commission, saying, "When I first let it go, it embarrassed. In a little while, it seemed to be somewhat at ease, then it swam away joyfully."

'Tsze-ch'an observed, "It had got into its element! It had got into its element!" The pond-keeper then went out and said, "Who calls Tsze-ch'an a wise man? After I had cooked and eaten the fish, he says, "It had got into its element! It had got into its element!" Thus a superior man may be imposed on by what seems to be as it ought to be, but he cannot be entrapped by what is contrary to right principle. Hsiang came in the way in which the love of his elder brother would have made him come; therefore Shun sincerely believed him, and rejoiced. What hypocrisy was there?'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - Enlightenment Not Gained

You don't attain truth, you unattain false.

Bit by bit, one by one, cast the false aside.

What is left is.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

The Xin-Xin Ming I: Responses

Scott Bradley

I have previously written a series of posts on the Hsin-Hsin Ming, a work which continues to inspire me and one to which I often return. I propose to do so again now. I have chosen to use the Pinyin transliteration of the title primarily to differentiate this series from the previous one. (The Pinyin system, as opposed to the Wade-Giles system, is the one most favored by modern scholarship and is responsible for the Tao/Dao, Chuang-tzu/Zhuangzi, and other changes which sometimes confuse us.)

I have subtitled this post "Responses" because this will not be a scholarly effort, nor one much informed by scholarship. For this reason it will most likely sometimes be incompatible with the original intent of the author, traditionally believed to be the Third Zen Patriarch, Seng-Ts'an (d. 606), though this is much disputed. I have, however, taken a look at some serious commentary on the work, but have found it less than helpful. For me, the beauty of the work is its stunning and razor-sharp simplicity; and this is easily destroyed by being cast into the seemingly endless sea of Buddhist speculative philosophy. Indeed, the name Buddha does not once appear in the work and I am more than happy to leave it so.

One thing that scholarship does make clear, and one which I find especially interesting, is the obvious Daoist influence on the work. Ch'an (Zen) is, as we know, a result of the meeting of Indian Buddhism and Chinese Daoism. Some have wondered why I speak so much about Zen on a blog dedicated to philosophical Daoism; this is why.

The title has been variously translated, but the essential idea is that it is a treatise on faith, or trust, in the heart-mind. Some would have this be an absolute "Heart-Mind", rather than this everyday mind of which we are all aware. I prefer the latter. There is no other point of entry into transcendent experience than this ordinary human experience. I also prefer "trust" because, for me, faith suggests something objective in which to believe. Trust, on the other hand, suggests simple agreement with workings of things as they are. Life, as I so often say, is implicit trust. All that we do is predicated on trust. We rise in the morning, put our feet to the floor, and trust that the floor is there and that our legs will hold us up. We trust that our first words to another have meaning and that our day will somehow be worth living.

Daoist spirituality, to my thinking, begins here: In a deep and primal affirmation of the life experience, out of which thankfulness cannot help but arise.

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

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 2B

Wan Chang said, 'His parents set Shun to repair a granary, to which, the ladder having been removed, Kû-sâu set fire. They also made him dig a well. He got out, but they, not knowing that, proceeded to cover him up. Hsiang said, "Of the scheme to cover up the city-forming prince, the merit is all mine. Let my parents have his oxen and sheep. Let them have his storehouses and granaries. His shield and spear shall be mine. His lute shall be mine. His bow shall be mine. His two wives I shall make attend for me to my bed." Hsiang then went away into Shun's palace, and there was Shun on his couch playing on his lute. Hsiang said, "I am come simply because I was thinking anxiously about you."

'At the same time, he blushed deeply. Shun said to him, "There are all my officers: do you undertake the government of them for me." I do not know whether Shun was ignorant of Hsiang's wishing to kill him.' Mencius answered, 'How could he be ignorant of that? But when Hsiang was sorrowful, he was also sorrowful; when Hsiang was joyful, he was also joyful.'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Afternoon Matinee: 'Colony Collapse Disorder' Threatens Bees, US Agriculture

The Dividing Line

Trey Smith

I think most people would agree that we should judge others by the content of their character and yet, while this tends to be a good theoretical point, most people don't utilize it. In this day and age, it's not uncommon at all to judge individuals predominantly by their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs (or the lack thereof) and, the biggest one of all, their financial standing.

Of course, if a person offers up this last one, a lot of people will charge that you're trying to foment class warfare. They will swear up and down that class or financial standing doesn't figure into their calculations at all, but the truth too often belies their protests!

For example, if a financially poor person is deemed to be lazy, the majority opinion -- shared by BOTH the rich and poor alike -- is that such an individual is a drag on society. However, if the individual deemed lazy is wealthy, then the overall assessment is quite different. In this case, it is not uncommon to hear people say, "Well, he/she earned the right to do nothing!" This is often true for those born with a silver spoon in their mouths and have not earned much of anything.

Another example concerns hard work. Poor people who toil away keeping society going rarely are commended for their dedication to their profession. Rich people who are viewed as hard workers are lionized. They win awards and plaudits, while the poor just aren't recognized for their efforts.

Mothers from impoverished families are criticized roundly if they desire to stay home to raise their children. "You should get out to find work," is a remark often heard. Mothers from well-to-do families are praised effusively if they desire to stay home to raise their children. They are held up as paragons of "family values."

Even an individual's bad habits are treated differently. If you're poor and you spend a portion of your money on drugs, tobacco, alcohol, gambling or prostitution, you are viewed as weak and a prisoner to your unhealthy desires. However, if you're rich and you spend your money on the exact same things, most people will say that you have the right to spend your hard-earned money however you see fit.

Two individuals behaviorally could be almost carbon copies of each other, yet the financially poor one will be denigrated, while the well-to-do one most often is given a pass or, at times, even commended.

A Losing Hand

Trey Smith

In the article, The Fake Election: 10 Arguments the Republicans Aren't Making, Matt Stoller contends that the GOP isn't really trying to win the presidency.  I certainly don't disagree with the premise.  In fact, I don't think the Republicans have been all that interested in winning the last two presidential races.

In John McCain and Mitt Romney, you have two of the most uncharismatic and uninspiring candidates that could be imagined.  In '08 as well as this year, many conservatives were/are not enthused in the least with their party's choice and seem to be going through the motions.  To make matters worse, both McCain and Romney showed a prevalence for inserting their feet in their mouths which dampens any kind of conceivable momentum that can be built up.

The Democrats have gone by the same playbook before.  In the 80s, they nominated two uncharismatic candidates: Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis.  Watching either give a stump speech was about as exciting as watching paint dry!

Charisma is very important when it comes to presidential politics (as well as other varieties).    In order to motivate the masses to get out to work for your campaign, you must inspire great enthusiasm for your vision.   Where charisma is lacking, your chances of winning are much less.  And those chances are truly not good if the opposing candidate has what you lack.

Love him or hate him, Barack Obama oozes charisma.  On camera, he comes off as very intelligent and caring.  The man knows how to play to the sentiments of a crowd.

If defeating Obama in November was your goal, Mitt Romney (or ANY of the Republicans contenders this year) would not even have made your top ten.  None of them engenders mass appeal.  None of them (with the possible exception of Ron Paul) can even spell the word, charisma, let alone live it!

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 2A

Wan Chang asked Mencius, saying, 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"In marrying a wife, how ought a man to proceed?
He must inform his parents."
If the rule be indeed as here expressed, no man ought to have illustrated it so well as Shun. How was it that Shun's marriage took place without his informing his parents?' Mencius replied, 'If he had informed them, he would not have been able to marry. That male and female should dwell together, is the greatest of human relations. If Shun had informed his parents, he must have made void this greatest of human relations, thereby incurring their resentment. On this account, he did not inform them!

Wan Chang said, 'As to Shun's marrying without informing his parents, I have heard your instructions; but how was it that the Tî Yâo gave him his daughters as wives without informing Shun's parents?' Mencius said, 'The Tî also knew that if he informed them, he could not marry his daughters to him.'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - Reroot Refocus Reconfigure

When doubt or pain arise, alter focus.

When war and death seem widespread, broaden your horizons.

Never in the infinite is one matter so important that it deserves attention.

Attention only on the root of attention can bring you to touch the supreme self of birthless, deathless, timeless, bliss.

The mind then is unable to cast a false world of suffering, and so your universe reconfigures.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

Dust in the Wind

Scott Bradley

I, who boast of embracing the enjoyments of life so carefully and so particularly, find in them, when I look at them very keenly, little more than wind. But what of it? We are all wind. And even the wind, more wisely than we, loves to bluster and toss about and is content with its own functions, without desiring stability and solidity, qualities that do not belong to it.
– Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) (The Enlightened Mind; Mitchell)
Here is all that might be required for a healthy philosophy of life.

We may be but dust in the wind, but the dust and the wind are brother and sister, manifestations of the same source.

Of the human mind I think we can say that in it Nature has transcended itself, has brought into being something seemingly 'more' that itself, has enabled a fledgling release from the purely mechanical bonds of cause and effect; here, is some momentary measure of freedom of thought and of will. It is something dreadfully wonderful.

What is not wonderful? Humanity is no more wonderful than the wind and the stars and the smallest packet of possible existence — yet, how wonderful they all are.

Materialism is as likely an avenue of wonder and awe as any other. It is no more unreasonable to say the Universes are the source of themselves than to say they arise from a non-other Source. Our awe and our wonder, and our thankful hearts, need no other focus than this unknowable Mystery. Were we to explore and encompass all that can be known or experienced, we would but return to ourselves as on a Mobius loop.

The wind is "content in its own functions" and seeks not to be other than it is. The lucky wind. How like the wind we are, yet how unlike we wish to be. Idiot wind. We see images of rage and discontent in the streets, self-inflicted pain and anguish where it need not be. Yet given the occasion, how different are we?

The Xin-Xin Ming tells us that our propensity to liking and disliking is a "disease of the mind" and to the extent that it is source of so much of our grief, I suppose that it is. Yet is it not more a pang in the birth of emergent consciousness than some evil disease? Let us explore new and more contentful ways to be, but let us also be thankful and affirming of things as they are in their becoming.

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

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mencius - Book 5, Part 1, Chapter 1B

'To be delighted in by all the scholars of the kingdom, is what men desire, but it was not sufficient to remove the sorrow of Shun. The possession of beauty is what men desire, and Shun had for his wives the two daughters of the Tî, but this was not sufficient to remove his sorrow. Riches are what men desire, and the kingdom was the rich property of Shun, but this was not sufficient to remove his sorrow. Honors are what men desire, and Shun had the dignity of being sovereign, but this was not sufficient to remove his sorrow. The reason why the being the object of men's delight, with the possession of beauty, riches, and honors were not sufficient to remove his sorrow, was that it could be removed only by his getting his parents to be in accord with him.

'The desire of the child is towards his father and mother. When he becomes conscious of the attractions of beauty, his desire is towards young and beautiful women. When he comes to have a wife and children, his desire is towards them. When he obtains office, his desire is towards his sovereign: if he cannot get the regard of his sovereign, he burns within. But the man of great filial piety, to the end of his life, has his desire towards his parents. In the great Shun I see the case of one whose desire at fifty year's was towards them.'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.


Trey Smith

What a week!

For starters, my wife lost her main job (she retains a very small 2nd one).  We went from expecting October to be a good economic month to a bleak one.   She had an interview for another one, but due to circumstances beyond her control, a prospective job fell through.

This puts us in a very bad financial situation.  You see, when you're poor, you don't have much of a safety net.  We don't have a savings account or anything like that.  If she is unable to find a new job in the next month or so -- jobs are hard to come by these days -- we will be sucking little more than air by December 1, if not sooner.

Needless to say, this situation has been and continues to be very stressful.  We could be staring at the real possibility of losing our house and this would also mean (shudder) giving up most or all of our pets.

On top of this, Google finally went ahead and completely changed Blogger's administrative interface.  I don't like most of the changes and this too has stressed me out!

Of course, this second lemon pales in comparison to the first one, but as individual who doesn't deal well with change, being hit with two simultaneously has sent my anxiety level through the proverbial roof!!