Synopsis: Taoism 101 — finding a moment of peace in a weird and fractured world.
Well, we’re back in Canada, having had a quick and painless trip via WestJet. Little annoyances, like my phone pooching, means that Darbella and I (don’t ask why my phone pooching means Dar has a new one too 😉 ) have new phones. With great cameras!
I’ve done an update of my book, Living Life in Growing Orbits, and will let you know when it’s available.
A little yin, a little yang
We were walking the streets of Samara, just before we left, and one of the places that sells sarongs and beach blankets had this great beach blanket, covered in Yin / Yang symbols. We came close to buying it, but decided that buying it just to haul it to Canada was a bit silly.
I got to thinking about Taoism, though, something I wrote a bit about in my book, Half Asleep in the Buddha Hall. Check out the book — it’s great, if I do say so myself!
You could easily make the case that Zen is something of an amalgam of Buddhism and Taoism, the two blending as Bodhidharma brought Buddhism to China.
I haven’t quite decided if I’ll dig into the Tao te Jing for more articles or not, but one way of “short-forming” The Tao is the line, “The way it is, is the way it is.”
This is actually a great way to live, and emphatically only talks about what you do, as opposed to what you think.
Most of us waste inordinate amounts of time grousing about what is happening right in front of us. In other words, we see something, don’t like it, and then… gripe, gripe, gripe.
Today, we were buying new phones. We were helped, in series, by three guys, and it took 2 hours. Next to us were two women, also buying a phone. In the process, their nano SIM card got misplaced. Boy, did one of them gripe. At one point, three people were looking for card, and still she griped.
I wondered if she expected this would make them find the card faster, or whether she simply wanted to let them know, repeatedly, that the SIM card was still missing.
We sat, and smiled. Ultimately, the guy working with us found us another 10% discount, which will pay for a nice dinner out. And Darbella and I remained un-rattled.
Later, we bumped into the manager (one of the 3 guys) in another department, and he thanked us for our patience, saying how often people just chew on him. And then he said that the general manager (a well liked guy) had just died of cancer, and how half the staff of his two stores had gone to the funeral (which was today) and he was a bit frazzled.
Gee, I wonder if that had anything to do with the confusion earlier, over the SIM card? But, really, why should it matter?
My point is this: stuff is happening, all the time. From little to big, things. Our stories of the meaning of the events, or our bitching and moaning, changes nothing. Which is what “the way it is, is the way it is” points out.
But oh, oh, oh, do we ever want to “Trump-etize” everything. Horrors! Terrible! Terrorists under the beds! Hide! Or yell, yell, yell. Finger-point. Blame.
And I either feel bad, or self-righteous, and yet… the thing, the issue stays the same.
The Tao is pretty much about the mark of the Master being equanimity in the midst of chaos. This is not our natural state, but it seems to me to be something we might want to cultivate. And we do so by paying attention.
In the store earlier today, there was certainly a moment where I wanted to join the woman alongside me, and gripe about the service. But to what end? More tension, more potential for error, and maybe more time spent.
So, for me, it’s monitoring how tight my neck is, and how growly my stomach is–noticing these very real physical indicators. Not to use them to blame others for causing them, but to stop myself from biting on my situation and surroundings.
Living life indignantly seems to me to be something of a waste of time.
Perhaps, this week, you can find ways to catch yourself mid-bitch, and rein yourself in. Once again, a nice 30 day project, and especially appropriate as we head into the holidays, replete with our weird relatives, who think you are the weird one. Just stop, breathe, and remind yourself:
“The way it is, is the way it is”
Then choose to do the one thing you can do: respond differently, with compassion and care.