Eastern Wisdom, from Don Chu

January 12, 2009 |

 Grandmaster Davies raises a good point in his post "The secret of the hand count."  Indeed, much of the major eastern consciousness lies towards cultivating such a state; but he may be surprised at quite a few western sources which may parallel. In the spirit of the theme raised, rather than superfluous explication, a more cogent understanding may be reached by placing hand over mouth and to just point and let ancient words speak for themselves.

“The pivot of Tao passes through the center where all affirmations and denials converge. He who grasps the pivot is at the stillpoint from which all movements and oppositions can be seen in their right relationship… Abandoning all thought of imposing a limit or taking sides, he rests in direct intuition.” [Chuang Tzu on wu-wei/non-being]

“Prince Wen Hui’s cook was cutting up an ox. . . . The ox fell apart with a whisper. The bright cleaver murmured like a gentle wind. Rhythm! Timing! Like a sacred dance. . . . Prince Wen Hui: Good work! Your method is faultless! The cook: Method? What I follow is Tao beyond all methods! When I first began to cut up oxen I would see before me the whole ox all in one mass. After three years I no longer saw this mass. I saw the distinctions. But now I see nothing with the eye. My whole being apprehends. My senses are idle. The spirit free to work without plan follows its own instinct guided by natural line, by the secret opening, the hidden space, my cleaver finds its own way… Then I withdraw the blade, I stand still and let the joy of the work sink in. I clean the blade and put it away. Prince Wen Hui: This is it! My cook has shown me how I ought to live my own life!” [to apprehend with your whole being - this version is Thomas Merton’s paraphrase]

“The purpose of fish traps is to catch fish. When the fish are caught, the traps are forgotten. The purpose of rabbit snares is to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snares are forgotten. The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.

Where is the man who has forgotten all words? He is the one I would like to speak with.” [on letting go of technique/words/language]

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving. A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants. A wise man has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is.” [Lao Tzu]

“The body is a Bodhi tree, the mind a standing mirror bright. At all times polish it diligently, and let no dust alight.” [Shen Hsiu - Head disciple of the 5th Patriarch of Chán Buddhism]

“Bodhi is no tree, nor the mind a standing mirror bright. Since all is originally empty, where does the dust alight?” [Hui Neng - temple laborer and later 6th Patriarch of Chán Buddhism, in reply to Shen Hsiu’s stanza above]

Cultivating samadhi (non dualistic discernment) towards allowing prajna (wisdom) to surface; to penetrate the veil of maya (illusion), achieve moksa (liberation) and reach atman (true self) - as in the Indian Vedanta.

Grandmaster Davies rightly speaks of the difficulty in finding Western sources which describes the same, but there have been western thought which shows some faint parallels, and which may be useful for further examination:

-Kant’s theory of imagination through which objective experience and subjective interpretation interacts dynamically in a limit process to arrive at perception.
-Schopenhauer’s sufficient reason.
-William James’s mysticism.
-Husserl performing phenomenological reduction in order to apprehend pure cognition.
-Heidegger’s existential Dasein - “being-in-the-world”.
-Jungian archetypes and potential actualizations.
-Emerson’s and Thoreau’s transcendentalism.
-Thomas Merton’s interior contemplation.

And perhaps, more recently and surprisingly applicable to varied fields, including trading –Timothy Gallwey’s Self 1 and Self 2 in his cult classic, The Inner Game of Tennis.


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