During the last two sessions, I’ve been talking to principally about the philosophy of the Lao Tzu book The Tao Te Ching. And now I want to shift today over to Chuang Tzu. This Chuang Tzu, so far as we know. Lived about three hundred B.C.. Maybe a little earlier than that. And he is a very very remarkable person because the Chuang Tzu book he’s also more exactly his name is. Chuang Tzu. But his book, sometimes called simply The Chuang Tzu book is quite unique in the whole history of philosophy,because he’s almost the only philosopher from the whole of antiquity, who has real humor. And therefore he’s an immensely encouraging person to read. But part of his humor is the art of exaggeration. And you always have to allow for that. You always have to realise that he’s slightly pulling his own leg he is that as in a group of people who are enthusiasts for something it but have humans who very often find that when they’re talking among themselves, they carry their own ideas to ludicrous extremes and roar with laughter about it. And Chuang Tzu does that.
Now for example, he has a great deal to say about the value of the useless life. The whole notion of something of life any moment in life or any event in life being useful, that is to say serving the end of some future event in life is to a Taoist absurd. Because nothing is useful at all, the universe is viewed as purposeless and useless, through and through because it’s a game. More than that game. Doesn’t really convey the sense of this. When a Taoist sage wandering through the forest, he isn’t going anywhere. He is just wondering when he watches the clouds he loves them because they have no special destination. He watches birds moving around he watches the waves lapping on the shore, and just because all this is not busy in the way that human beings are busy. Because it serves no end other than being what it is now it is for that reason that he admires it, and it is for that reason that you get the peculiar styles of Chinese painting in the Tan Son and later dynasties, where nature in its wayward wandering nature is the main subject.
When we say that something is without purpose and that’s a put down phrase and say well it’s no future and what’s the use now we say what’s the use? And, we need very much to realise that that question. Reflects our insanity. What’s the future in it? What’s the use? The joy for the Darwinist is that things have no use and the future is not important. Now, you can exaggerate this and Chuang Tzu does, in a very humorous way by describing the ideal useless man he’s a hunchback. And he’s so deformed that his chin rests on his navel and so on and, but he says now this man is very admirable. He has found the secret of life because when the social service workers come around he’s the first to get a free hand out. And when the military officers come around to conscript people for the army, he’s the first to be rejected. Therefore, he lives long. And he also describes a case of some travelers came across an enormous tree, fantastic thing. And they said never did anyone see such a tree, so they went up and looked at it and first they tested the leaves and found that they were rough and disagreeable and no good to eat. Then they looked at the branches, and found that they were all twisted and absolutely no good for using as sticks. Then they examined the wood and found it was full of pity and absolutely useless for a carpenter. So nobody had disturbed this tree. It was not used for cutting down any purpose whatsoever and so it grew to an enormous size and was of great age. Chuang Tzu is here pulling our legs. He is not exactly asking us to take all that literally but this is his way of doing things then also he describes the behavior of the higher form of man and he says, the man of character that is. In this case the word we were discussing yesterday the man of character lives at home without exercising his mind and performs actions without worry. The notions of right and wrong and the praise and blame of others do not disturb him. When within the four seas, all people can enjoy themselves that is happiness for him when all people are well provided, that is peace for him. Sorrowful in countenance, he looks like a baby who has lost its mother appearing stupid he goes about like one who has lost his way. He has plenty of money to spend and does not know where it comes from he drinks and eats just enough, and does not know where the food comes from. This is the demeanor of the man of character. Then
By contrast, the hypocrites are those people who regard as good whatever the world claims as good and regard as right of whatever the world claims as right. When you tell them that they are man of Tao, then that countenance countenances change with satisfaction when you call them hypocrites then they look displeased. All their lives they call themselves men of Tao, and all their lives they remain hypocrites. They know how to give a good speech and tell appropriate anecdotes in order to attract the crowd, but from the very beginning to the very end they do not know what it’s all about. They put on the proper garb, and dress in the proper colors and put on a decorous experience in order to make themselves popular, but refuse to admit that they’re hypocrites. But this explanation of the man. Who is stupid, in countenance in appearance and is wandering about as if he had lost his way and doesn’t know anything across it based on the text and Lao Tzu, where he says the people of the world are merry making as if partaking of the sacrificial feasts as if mounting the terrace in spring I alone am mild like one unemployed. Like a newborn baby that cannot yet smile, unattached like one without a home. The people of the world have enough and to spare, but I am like one left out I heart must be that of a fool, being muddled nebulous. The vulgar are knowing Luminous. I alone am confused the Volga are clever selfish assured I alone depressed patient as the sea adrift seemingly aimless the people of the world all have a purpose I alone appear stubborn and them kooks I alone differ from the other people value of drawing sustenance from the Mother, capital M that’s Mother Nature.
So, there is about Taoist sage, you see the can the character of the Taoist sage as depicted by to answer something of the fool. Because, the fool is the person. Who doesn’t know enough to come in out of the rain doesn’t compete. Everybody else gets before him to the prizes the material prizes of life and even to the spiritual prizes. The fool, you see, is the person who isn’t going anywhere. He sits by the road and go to be able to be a little bit even to be the fool is like a Mongolian idiot child who isn’t interested in survival. Who will take a plate of food and run his finger around in it and make a wonderful slosh with the stew, you and then watch it drip from the tip of this thing where he won’t eat for quite a while of the neo play with it in all sorts of ways then his attention will be distracted by something else and he will chase after that, you see. So long as you don’t cross him this is the case of the Mongolian idiot he remains the most wonderfully friendly swinging kind of a cat, but he has no ambition, he doesn’t fight for himself. And nobody can ever get him to. So, the fool has always been used as a kind of analog of the sage. As a Hindu verse which says sometimes naked sometimes mad, now as a scholar, now as a fool thus they appear on Earth the free men. And if you read the biographies of the early life of Sri Ramakrishna. They are absolutely wild.
Now, not all of this you see again just as in reading Chuang Tzu, you mustn’t take it too literally. These things are said by way of a kind of over stress to correct. Another kind of over stress in the opposite direction. When a Japanese scholar many years ago explained the teaching of Buddhism to me, he said something I had never heard anybody else say, that the Buddha taught for example that life is suffering in order to correct the wrong view that it ought to be pleasure. He said that everything is impermanent. In order to correct the wrong view that reality lasts forever in time. So, the idea of the Middle Way is set to correct another. This is a very common Asian technique and it is found especially in Zen where teachers when they are asked about something sacred will always answer in terms of something secular. What is the Buddha? The tree in the Guard. Then when you ask about something secular they answer in terms of something sacred see. As there’s a master and his student working in the field and they are using a knife to prune, and the student suddenly says to the Master give me the knife and he gives it to him point first. And so he says, but please let me have the other end the teacher says What would you do with the other end? see the question immediately it turns into a kind of a metaphysical thing.
So this play back and forth between the extremes has as its interior design. The awakening of the mind to polarity. That I was talking to you about yesterday. This thing of mutual arising. Chuang Tzu tells a story about this. He says a certain keeper of monkeys said with regard to their ration of nuts that each monkey should have three in the morning and four at night. But at this the monkeys were very angry so the keeper said they might have four in the morning and three at night, with which arrangement they were all well pleased. Now the number of nuts was the same, he goes on to say, but there was an adaptation to the likes and dislikes of those concerned. But this there is the way of conduct of the sage.
That basically Chuang Tzu’s philosophy is a philosophy of relativity. He makes a great deal of the point that there is no absolute standard of great or small. Of important or unimportant. There is a story, for example, of a sort of off on telly bill at a banquet, and the speeches are being made after dinner. And somebody gets up and says that the human being is the highest of all human, of all creatures, that the whole world serves humanity and a lot of pompous nonsense. And the small boy gets up and says that since Tigers feed on human beings it’s quite obvious therefore that human beings exist for the service of tigers. For Chuang Tzu, you must get the point of view that small things are as big as big things can be, and big things are as small a small things can be everything can be looked at as great or small, important and unimportant. And all the steps between. Because his conception of the world is essentially cyclic. In his idea of the circle and Taoist and Zen teachers have a whole method of teaching by circles and drawing circles. The center of a circle, is any point on the circumference.
You can begin anywhere. There’s a koan in Zen Buddhism which asked the question. Indra built the seamless tower. Where did he start? Now, a seamless tower is like a sleeve with no no seam on it. It’s a continuous cylinder of cloth. So the continuous cylindrical tower, is the seamless tower where you start?
So, in the same way where does the circle start? At the Circle of Life the cycle of life the interdependence of. The bees and the flowers the into dependence of long and short you see it’s all circular. And so, there is there is no where and there is everywhere that it can begin. In the same way, when he discusses the organs of the body, he makes a catalogue of all these organs and says ‘Now which do you prefer?’ Which one comes first and which one follows? Which one rules and which ones are serves? he said it seems that there may be a governor in all this but nobody could ever find it. This is a very strange passage in Chuang Tzu, which I have seen translated in many different ways there is an absolutely absurd translation of drunks on the market now published in mentor books by a professor of Chinese at Harvard, and it is absolutely ridiculous. The whole thing is made by a man who is I’m sure in an ex-missionary and keeps talking about God. Well there is no expression in Chuang Tzu for God. There is this expression. Which has almost the same meaning as spontaneity of itself so. This means such that something is so through the power of heaven.
Now heaven. Tien. Mean simply the universe. As you look out from Earth which is as it were the center of the base. Of everything else the whole expanse of the cosmos is tien, heaven. And there is no. Connection in the idea of heaven was some sort of personal ruler of the universe. So, the notion of God you see as we understand it is really very foreign indeed to Taoist thought. And when you see somebody translating this as God it is gives a very wrong impression of this teaching for example there is a passage in which. Shun asked Jun, Can one get the Tao, so as to have it for one’s own. And they say age and says. Your body is not your own. It is the delegated image of. John. And you know missionaries translate God, because they read in the Bible man is made in the image of God. Your life is not your own it is the delegated adaptability of heaven. Your offspring are not your own They’re the delegated seeds of heaven. You move you know not how you are at rest, you know not why. These are the operations of the ways of Tao so how could you get Taos so as to have it for your own.
Similarly, there’s a passage that says when a drunk man falls out of a cot though he may suffer he does not die. Because his spirit is in a condition of security he does not suffer from contact with objects of resistances. If such security may be got from wine how much more from. Can run. From being in accordance with the spontaneous rhythm of the universe. That’s really what it means. But in the anxiety of missionaries and missionaries have been you see the great Western, they’ve been the foundation of Chinese scholarship in the West. To translate the Scriptures into Chinese they studied Chinese they were the first people to study Chinese and they have constantly therefore had an interest in slipping Chinese. Christian ideas into Chinese classics just in the same way as when you read Monya Williams’s Sanskrit dictionary, which is the base dictionary for Sanskrit study for centuries, it’s all made up with a missionary bias. But this the notion you see, of God in the sense of the person or ruler of the world, is totally foreign to Chinese thought. There isn’t even an idea in Chinese thought of the law of nature as we have it. See the the motions of the body, the harmony of the organism, is not what it is in obedience to a law.
The Chinese do have an idea of law. This is the word tze. This is an interesting character. Nowadays written this way. But originally written like this. Because it’s or this is a drawing of a sacrificial cauldron, with a knife beside it. And it comes from a time when the laws were inscribed on the sacrificial cauldrons, so that when people came to offer their sacrifices, they would read the laws. Certain sages objected to this, and said that if the people know what the laws are, in the fixed terms of writing, they will develop a litigious spirit. That is to say, they’ll start haggling about what it really says, and as you know that is the principal occupation of lawyers. And they said that the thing is that you mustn’t write it down like that. And so, the the Tao is described. As wutze. That we would translate literally Lawless. But it means of course transcending this kind of law which is a specific law, positive law, I think is the correct legal term.
So there is no notion in the Taoist philosophy, or if one might almost say in Chinese philosophy as a whole for there certainly includes Confucianism, no notion whatsoever of the world as responding to a boss. So the body, in other words, does not have in it a ruling organ its order is the consequence of, or the operation of every part of it existing together simultaneously arising mutually. There’s no governor. Now the difficulty, you see, in Chuang Tzu’s philosophy the difficulty with human beings is they begin to think in terms of governing. And ruling and they set out to dominate themselves and their surroundings. And invariably, this leads to a mess. He tells the story of an ancient man by the name of Polo. Polo was a great horse trainer. This is where we get the word polo from. But he said Polo absolutely ruined the nature of horses. Horses were nice charming creatures like Dean Swift’s winners, before polo interfered and ruined their nature. Then he says in other places a good carpenter doesn’t need a square or a compass. He works without it. And this is fantastically true of Japanese carpenters. You should see, one of the fascinating things in going to Japan is these old style carpenters, working from the roughest architectural plans you would imagine. And with the strangest instruments, but they have an uncanny knack, by fitting things by feel and by eye. A great story is told of the ceremonial raising of the ridgepole of a new temple. And it was being done by a certain Guild of carpenters and there was a rival guild in town which had not got the contract and they were very sore about it so during the night one of the members of the rival guild came and he chopped off six feet or so, of the ridgepole. And so when the master craftsman came in the morning and all the priests that arrived for the ceremony of raising the roof beam. He looked at it and said, ‘Somebody has interfered with us. It must be our enemy guild. They’ve cut off six feet of the roof beam anyway he said Never mind I will put it right.’ And he took his hammer and ceremonially struck to be then said raise it and it was raised and it fitted exactly. So, the story, of course, is that the master carpenter knew that this would happen and he made the beam too long. That those sort of stories are always associated with the art of carpentry. He needs no square you see because. His sense of skill, that is in his organism, in his nerves, in his senses, is much more subtle than anything that can be made with instruments. There are all kinds of stories about the artists of the Far East excelling in this sort of thing, of knowing with tremendous precision exactly where something should go.
So, a master is decorating a ceremonial tea room and he’s with his student and the student wants to know where to put a hook for hanging a bamboo vase for flowers on the wall. And the master says there, and the student makes a little mark somewhat later a student rubs up the mark, gets rid of it. But he remembers by a tiny little secret prick in the cloth where it should go. And then he says to the teacher, ‘Excuse me sir but I forgot where you said that things should go,,’ and the teacher says it was there and he put his finger exactly on the same spot. That’s the sort of thing that is admired. Without the slightest calculation you see.
Now he goes on and says. The Chuang Tzu explains at length that music has been ruined by the five notes. Says the five notes will make a man deaf and the five colors will make a man blind. And what does this mean. It’s. Well it’s the think is that if you think there are only five notes you can’t hear. If you think there are only five colors you can’t see. The moment you say this is a problem we have in music. That we’ve got a notation. Which is our chromatic scale. And the stave the way we can write music is limited to that possibility. But there are all kinds of subtleties between every one of our notes. The same way in writing our rhythm we have to go in steps from whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note, sixteenth note, and so on and we can increase the value of each by one half by dotting it. But that’s the limit of our rhythmic expression, whereas in all Oriental music, you have an infinite continuum both of tone and of rhythm. They make the most extraordinarily complicated rhythms, and the way you learn music is not from notation, not from measures, but from the living body of your teacher demonstrating the ways of playing instruments.
So you follow the teacher, the man, instead of what it says in a book. So, the whole principle then is one of, not a success in life, through not pushing it around, through not trying to govern it. He tells a story as a matter of fact Chuang Tzu has a very funny trick a lot of his wisdom he puts into the mouth of Confucius. And he said to Confucius was one day doing this and he ran into Lao Tzu and they had an argument and loud so one but then the next time he talks about Confucius teaching Lao Tzu’s doctrines. And this to the immense confusion of everybody but it said one day Confucius was standing by a river where there was a tremendous cataract plunging down, and he suddenly saw an old man coming out of the forest, who fell into the river and suddenly disappeared into the Cataract. And he said, ‘Oh dear too bad, probably some old fellow tired of life who want to put an end to it all the next moment way down stream the old man gets out of the water and starts bouncing along and Confucius is amazed, and he sends one of his disciples at to catch this fellow for you disappears he said sir I was thinking that you would be going to commit suicide and I suddenly find that you came out of that cataract alive. Do you have some special method by which you do this? No, I have no special method said the old man I just go in with the world and come out with this well because I don’t resist the water I entirely identify myself with water. So you see, here he is utterly utterly relaxed, just rolling around in the torrent and not resisting in any way, and so he has preserved. He goes with the stream rolls with the punch, or whatever you want to call it. Again, of course, there is exaggeration in a story of this kind. Just as the exaggeration in the story of the hunchback in the tree and so on. Because true Wu-wei, or letting go, noninterference, doesn’t mean, for example, flabbiness. A lot of people when they think they’re relaxing merely become flabby. And if that is so, you know, you would. The perfectly relaxed person would slowly become Jell-O. and would spread out on the floor and finally drip through into the basement. Relaxation you see is simply something that happens when there’s too much yang in you, too much of the Positive. You need to balance after the yin. And the trouble is that human beings in their anxiety to control things exhibit too much again too much aggressiveness too much of the male principle, they need the balance of the female. And so, all these exaggerations in the direction of let things go, let things happen, don’t interfere. Stressing the yin point of view to compensate for the excessive yang. And furthermore the difficulty always comes I remember reading a book called You Must Relax, The difficulty always arises when one feels, I must relax. I’ve got to let go and let things happen. How on earth do I do it. I, even in trying to relax I’m all tense because I’m anxious that it must happen and maybe it won’t and how do you do it you see. If you can’t achieve wu wei like that. What you have to understand is that you don’t you don’t have to do anything there is no method as the old man said. That the meaning of wu tze, sir when you call the Taoist will sir or lawless it means there is no method in it. That you can master and do it what you have it’s all based on understanding of what our psychologists call insight. You have to find out that there is nothing that you do. As a source and cause of action separate from everything else. When you know that, that there is no separate acting you, then there is no need to try to relax. The thing you have to see is that the flow of the Tao, as I said yesterday with the illustration of the people swimming in a strong stream that the flow of the Tao goes on anyway. Just like the flow of time for example, you can get out of the present moment. You can think about the past, and you can think about the future. But since you do that thinking now. The present is inescapable. All right now, the present moment does, doesn’t it has a sense of flow. Time is going along, life is going along time actually the clock time is simply a measure of flow, a way of going to tick tick tick and counting the ticks and say well we’ve lived through so many ticks.
But nevertheless this is the real time as distinct from this ticking thing is it is a flowing, and yet it still isn’t that fascinating. If it moves but you’re always there it’s always now. You never get out of now. All right now if you can feel that see that you can’t get out of nothing. And you never will. I think now realize that what we call now is the same thing as Tao. The Tao, the course of things the eternal now the presence of God. Anything you want to call it see that’s now, and you can’t get out of it. So there’s no need to get with it, because you can’t get out. See, that’s beautiful you just to relax and you’re there.
So that’s the principle of flowing. You can make all kinds of there are a clever ways of postponing finding this out. It’s terribly simple, but you can say well this is a very spiritual matter and I’m an evolved person and it’ll take me a great deal of time to realize this in a more than an intellectual way. That’s an excuse, for playing your own game. And not finding this out. There are all sorts of elaborate ways of doing that and you can put it off by indulging in the most complicated systems, of spiritual culture and yoga, and so on and so forth and that’s all right I have no objection to your putting it off of that’s what you want to do. But actually, it’s always here now just as you can’t get away from now you can’t get out of the Tao. That’s the humor of the whole thing. And that’s why Chuang Tzu has this beautiful light touch. He says, ‘The Heron is white without a daily bath. The crow is black without being painted in ink.’ And this is the same as saying, you know, as in Zen. In this spring landscape, there is nothing superior, nothing inferior Flowering branches grow naturally. Some short, some long. Or they say a long thing is the long body of Buddha, short thing is the short body of Buddha. There are therefore you see blogs and brunettes. Fat people and skinny people tall people and shot people. Cultured people involved or people.
Even the Christian hymns there’s the rich man in his castle the poor man it is gate. God made them high and lowly and order their estate you know? We don’t sing that now because we’ve got too much social conscience. In fact, in I think time I probably read this passage yesterday maybe I didn’t, but Chuang Tzu has this to say about it. Those who say that they would have right without its correlate wrong, or good government without its correlate misrule do not apprehend the great principles of the universe or the nature of all creation one might as well talk of the existence of heaven without that of earth or of the negative principle even without the positive which is clearly impossible if people keep on discussing it without stop. Such people must be either fools or knaves. Of course, one could always reply to Chuang Tzu, that there have to be fools and knaves so that we can recognize the existence of sages.
Yes, he has it in another way here. Speech is not mere blowing of breath it is intended to say something only what it is intended to say cannot yet be determined. Is their speech indeed? Or is there not can we or can we not distinguish it from the chirping of young birds? How can Tao be so obscured should be a distinction of true and false? How can speech be so obscured that there should be a distinction of right and wrong? Where can you go and find Tao not to exist? Where can you go and find that words cannot be proved? The Tao is obscured by are inadequate understanding, and words out obscured by flowery expressions hence the affirmations and deny. Aisles of the Confucian and the modes in schools each denying what the other firms in the firm in what the other denies each denying what the other firms in affirming what the other denies brings us only confusion. There is nothing which is not this there is nothing which is not that. What cannot be seen by that, the other person, can be known by myself. Hence I say, this emanates from that that also derives from this this is the theory of the interdependence of this and that. Nevertheless, life arises from death and vice versa, the possibility arises remember possibility and vice versa affirmation is based upon denial, and vice versa. Which being the case the true sage rejects all distinctions and takes his refuge in heaven. That’s in the universe.
For one may base it on this yet this is also that and that is also this this also has its right and wrong and that has its right and wrong does then the distinction between this and that really exists or not? When this the subjective, and that the object of are both without their correlates. That is the very axis of Tao and when that axis passes through the center at which all infinities converge affirmations and denials alike blend into the infinite one and so it is said that there is nothing like using the light. And see the axis of the opposites is the perception of that polarity. The difference between them is explicit but the unity of them is implicit. The difference the Expos it difference between two ends of the stick but the implicit unity that they are ends of the same stick you see? So that’s the axis the axis of Tao, is the what you might call it the secret conspiracy. That it lies between all poles and all opposites which is implicit. Esoteric, or whatever you want to call it that they’re fundamentally one.
So that unity, whether it’s between you and the universe. Or whatever polarity you want to take is not something that has to be brought into being. If one brings it into being one assumes that it doesn’t exist that’s called in Zen, putting legs on a snake, or a beard on a eunuch. There’s something unnecessary, you see? So it exists, it is always there and you can see it so vividly and actually put your almost almost put your finger on it and sense it, if you understand that the movement of the Tao, is exactly the same thing as the present moment. Now because if you try to grab the present moment. And get to get ready, get ready, with the art of the written Clapper and say now. It’s gone. [laughs] The finer and finer you draw the hairline on the watch, to know exactly where now is you can venture get the point where you can see it all the. But if you leave it alone and you don’t try to grab the moment as it flies but it’s always there so you don’t have to mark it, and have to put your finger on it. Because it’s everything that there is and so the present moment suddenly expands, and it contains the whole of time all past or future everything you never have to hold on to it.
It is believed generally in India. That when a person sets out on the way of liberation, his first problem. Is to become free from his past karma. The popular theory of karma the word that literally means action or doing, in Sanskrit, so that when we say that something that happens to you is your karma It’s like saying in English it’s your own doing. But in, the popular Indian belief, karma is a sort of built in moral law or a law of retribution, such that all the bad things you do and all the good things you do have consequences which you have to inherit, and so long as karmic energy remains stored up, you have to work it out. And what the sage endeavors to do is a kind of action which in Sanskrit is called Nishkama karma. Nish come out means without passion or without attachment karma, action. And so, whether he is whatever action he does, he renounces the fruits of the action, so that he acts in a way that doesn’t generate future karma because future karma continues you in the wheel of becoming Samsara, the round and keeps you being reincarnated. Now then, in that case, when the time comes that you start to get out of the chain of karma, all the creditors that you have start presenting themselves for payment. In other words, a person who begins say to study yoga, has felt that he will suddenly get sick or that his children will die, or that he loses money, or all sorts of catastrophes will occur because the karmic debt is being cleared up, and it is in no hurry to be cleared up, if you’re just living along like anybody, but if you embark on the spiritual life, a certain hurry occurs, and therefore since this is known it’s rather discouraging to start these things.
The Christian way of saying the same thing is that if you plan to be, to change your life. Shall we say to turn over a new leaf, you mustn’t let the devil know. Because he will oppose you with all his might if he suddenly discovers that you’re going to escape from his power. So for example, if you have a bad habit say you drink too much, and you make a New Year’s resolution that during this coming year you’ll stop drinking. That’s a very very dangerous thing to do, because the devil will immediately know about it. And what will happen will be this. He will confront you with the prospect of three hundred sixty five drinkless days. And that will be awful, you know, just overwhelming and you won’t be able to make much more than three days on the wagon.
So in that case you compromise with the devil and say just today I’m not going to drink you see but tomorrow maybe you will go back. Then when tomorrow comes you say, Oh just another day and it’s trial that’s all and the next day you say a one more day won’t make much difference so you only do it for the moment and you don’t let the devil know that you have a secret intention of going on day after day after day after day. But of course, there’s something still better than that. And that is not to let the devil know anything. And that means of course. not to let yourself know. One of the many meanings of that saying Let not your left hand know watch or write and do it is just this. And that was why, in the Zen discipline, a great deal of it centers around acting without premeditation. As those of you know, who read Harigal’s book Zen in the Art of Archery. It was necessary to release the bowstring without first saying now. There’s a wonderful story it may also have read by a German writer Von Kyss, about them a boxing match with a bear. The man can never defeat this bear because the bear always knows his plans in advance, and is ready to deal with any situation. The only way to get through to the bear would be to hit the bear without having first intended to do so. That would catch him.
And so this is one of the great great problems in the spiritual life or whatever you want to call it. Is to be able to have intention and act simultaneous. By this means, you escape karma and you escape the devil. So you might say that the Taoist is exemplary in this respect. That this is getting free from karma without making any previous announcement. Of simply, supposing we have a train and we want to unload the train of its freight cars. You go to the back end, and you can unload them one by one, and shunt them into the siding, but the simplest of all ways of unloading is to uncouple between the engine and the first car, and that gets rid of the whole bunch at once. And it is in that sort of way you see that the Taoist gets rid of karma without challenging it. And so it has the reputation you see, of being the easy way. There are all kinds of yogas and ways for people who want to be difficult. And one of the great gambits of a man like Gurdjieff, was to make it all seem as difficult as possible, because that challenged the vanity of his students. If some teacher some good to says, Really this isn’t difficult at all it’s perfectly easy. Some people will say oh he’s not really the real thing. We want something tough and difficult when when we see somebody starts out giving you a discipline that’s very very weird and rigid people think now there is a thing, that man means business see, and so they flatter themselves by going to such a guy that they are serious students, whereas the other people are only dabblers and so on. All right if you have to do it that way, that’s the way you have to do it. But the Taoist is the kind of person who shows you the shortcut. And shows you how to do it. By intelligence rather than effort because that’s what it is.
In so many athletic and artistic skills, you’ll find a teacher, who teaches you how to do it without forcing it. I once started the piano. I’m absolutely no good at it now because I don’t practice. Involved in other things but I had an absolutely superb teacher. For a while. He was a very very great musicologist you know there was nothing sloppy about his standards. They were of the highest perfection. But when I first went to him, he said Let me see what you can do so I played him a scholarly Sonata. He said, ‘Yeah but the trouble with you is you’re trying too hard. You’re hitting the piano and you should never hit a piano.’ He said, ‘actually, all you’ve got to do in order to play a piano is to drop your hands on it’ and you need to have relaxed arms so he made me practice for a while he felt my muscles to see what I was relaxed or not and he’s not just dropping out on the piano I don’t care what notes you get but just drop your hand let it fall so there’s enough energy in the weight of your arm to play as loud as you will. Or a soft as you will But just let it drop, you so that’s all you have to do is drop your hands and you kept feeling my arms he said no no you’re getting too tense you must pretend you are Lao Tzu. And he was there were a very educated man he knew about these things and, then he said Now after dropping your hands all you’ve got to do is hit the right notes. I’m and he said you know. The same thing is involved in making a very complex trill and he demonstrated he has dropped his hand on the piano and at the same time his fingers went for a look like that and there was this magnificent on a mentation. And then we went on with practice this for some time he said Now let’s get around it in the right notes and, he found immediately I had a block on reading music, because when I was a small boy and started piano, at the age of roughly eight, I had a pestiferous teacher, who was the mistress in this private school I went to in England. And she used to sit beside you would hit your fingers with a pencil every time you made a wrong note. Gregory Bateson, I think was taught piano and as a child in such a way and he has a total block on reading music. He really has got a brilliant mind, you know, he’s a mathematician and great anthropologist, ethnologist and so on the other total block to reading music. And so this man had to teach me to overcome my block. And he said now, first of all, feel perfectly free to make mistakes. Everybody is going to make some mistakes, and it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake, and if you do make a mistake, don’t don’t go back and do it over again but just go on.
So play as slowly as you, like don’t hurry it just so long as you keep the relative rhythm, the relative values of the thing, go slow and take it easy. Another thing is to not to pay so much attention to the notes, but to the distances or in intervals between them, because that is the significant jump. And this sort of overcomes to the difficulty of key signatures, where we start out with is it learned we started out learning music with this weird system, that the lines on the stave really represent the major scale of C.. And that therefore, when you put a key signature at the beginning, you remember that every time you… Supposing you’re playing an F. every time you hit B. It should be B. flat. While that’s extremely tedious way of learning music, and you just have to think in different keys that’s the only way to adjust to a key signature and play in the thing according to the intervals appropriate for that key. But you see, in this instance, this man although he was a great perfectionist and was highly skilled in music, he used intelligence first of al, to give you a shortcut, and then he also used relaxation to enter into a difficult thing by the easiest route.
Did I tell you yesterday that incident about the seed? Catching the seed by its hairs I did, yeah? Well, see I was making the point there about intelligence that, when the wind blows and the seed responds like a living animal. You can say that it’s not a living animal that it’s only a seed with whiskers on because those whiskers on the seed are a manifestation of the intelligence of the seed, in the same way as the sale manifests the intelligence of the sailor.
So, Taoism is in that sense what everybody’s looking for. The easy way in, the shortcut, using cleverness instead of muscle. So the question naturally arises, isn’t it cheating? When in any game, somebody really starts using his intelligence, he will very likely be accused of cheating. And to draw the line between skill and cheating is a very difficult thing to do. And I’m sure if you’ve read Life magazine recently or aware of the tremendous controversy going on in the bridge world, because a champion team. A couple of partners, has been accused before the whole bridge world of cheating. And what they did I mean after all in bridge bidding is a way of letting your partner know what’s in your hand.