But for Lao-tzu…

It is true.
I now know less than ever,
less than nothing—I suspect.

This is surely
some kind of dying—a death even
and some kind of birth too; perhaps.

The domesticated ‘I’ would hope so.
And to that clinging too…
even hope is now slipping beyond me

This letting go of every thing
so tenderly vulnerable
story and self-as-object dissolving

as silence melts terror
into a not-knowing so open
now at last knowing

What is it to simply be
with no-thing to prove
everything to embrace

this contraction  into awareness
and this expansion into being
ancient cycles of self renewal

surely such a beginners mind
as this last re-birthing of the Universe
I Am.

But for Lao Tzu I would think myself crazy. And but for Rumi too. The two of them… and so many other souls who have honored and lived the wild out in their lives, whose living presence yet points toward a way of being whole. I’ve previously written of Rumi’s Two Kinds of Intelligence, one which serves us in the domesticated living of our lives ‘among men’, and another through which we are connected to all of life and to mystery itself.
But for the domesticated human, if you are like me anyway, that transitional space between the need to ‘make one’s way in the world,’ and that surrendering into fully trusting Rumi’s innate “fountainhead” of intelligence residing deeper than acculturation… that is the space where I find myself asking: “Can Life be trusted?”
Rumi answers with this line from My worst Habit:

“There is a secret medicine given only to those who hurt so hard they can’t hope.”

And Lao-tzu? I rest more fully into the trusting of Life when I sit with him:

Not-knowing is true knowledge.
Presuming to know is a disease.
First realize that you are sick;
then you can move toward health.

The Master is her own physician.
She has healed herself of all knowing.
Thus she is truly whole. (71)

It is from this wholeness that I seek to live and to write; the resiliency that resides in this place, unlike the domesticated world which would define us by our knowing, I experience as being like water:

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao. (8)

Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it. (78)

The gentlest thing in the world
overcomes the hardest thing in the world. (43)

Thus it is I live more wholly in the un-knowing of an open mind and an open heart, for surely their gentleness and their wild resilience is like that of water, saying “Yes!” to all it encounters. Imagine a world where corporate and national sustainability policies were informed by the wild intelligence and un-knowing of water!
Notes: The Lao-tzu translations are by Stephen Mitchell, Tao Te Ching. The Rumi quote is from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne.


  1. Hillary

    03/10/2010 at 3:21 pm

    This is why I love wildresiliencyblog.com. Awesome posts.

  2. Honoring the Dark Unknown « wild resiliency blog!

    03/11/2010 at 2:20 pm

    […] wild resiliency blog! balance, stasis, adaptation, change and transformation in turbulent times « But for Lao-tzu… […]

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