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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Did you measure to attain your height?
Did you use geometry to radiate your limbs?
Did you lament storm-torn branches?
Did you inventory your leaves for the sun?
You did none of these things, yet man in his cleverness
Cannot match your perfection.

When will we give up the artificiality of our tiresome lives and cleave instead to what is natural? All the achievements of man are only monuments to overwhelming pride. There has not been a single man-made item that has been a necessary improvement to the earth. Did we need the Great Wall of China? Did we need the pyramids of Egypt? Did we need the Colossus of Rhodes? Did we need mechanization, steam power, electricity, nuclear power, or computer technology? All our achievements have been for the sake of our exclusive comfort and gratification. We have only advanced the mad tangle of supply and demand that we call civilization.

We don’t need all this “sophistication” in order to live with Tao. Our involvement in society blinds us to this fact. We ignore the natural order of our own bodies and minds and close ourselves to the point so that only sex and drugs are stimulating enough. We lament that we are lost and alienated. Ironically, the answers are right nearby. If you just go to the nearest tree and contemplate, you will easily see the secret to natural living.


Blinding heat divides day from night,
Brands short shadows into fecund soil.
Green tendrils, heavy with beans,
Coil around rustic bamboo racks.
Violet flowers gape erotically among velvet leaves :
A single gourd contains the entire world’s dream.

There is a great comfort in growing your own food. You are close to the soil. You use the basic elements — water, sunlight, earth, air, and plants — for your work, your sustenance, and your pleasure. You nurture your garden from seedlings to mature plants, tending, pruning, weeding. Year after year, you see cycles come and go, from sprouting to harvest to withering, to seeding again. You eat your plants to live. You don’t mind and they don’t mind. Some day, you will fall back to this earth, back into the sun-baked dirt, and you will become food for the plants. It’s the way of all life, and it’s all very agreeable.

Those who follow Tao say that all reality is like a series of nesting circles : microcosms within macrocosms. What is close at hand is a microcosm of what is far away. Why search all over for Tao? It is all contained in the seeds of the gourd growing in your garden.

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Plain country folk with rounded bodies,
Skin turning to bronze in the valley heat.
Why talk to them about Tao?
They eat when they are hungry,
They sleep when they are sleepy.
Even a sage with infinite permutations
Could not match their simplicity.

Do you want to know about simplicity? Go live with farmers. Their daily activities are coordinated with the seasons, they are close to the earth, and they do not spend their time figuring out how to attain status. They are honest and plain. They make no distinction between who they are as individuals and who they are as farmers.

Those of us who live in cities would be hard pressed to equal the farmer in simplicity. Simplicity, after all, is what Tao most celebrates. Who needs to know all the digits of pi? Who needs to engineer a new monetary policy? Who needs to strive for political office? None of these things is necessary to be a human being.

Give up unnecessary things.

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