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I Peng

Find the Fire?

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"Find that fire inside you." 

 

The popular modern term to incite motivation and enthusiasm in an individual.  To find one's fire is to seek one's goals with determination and straightforwardness that cowers to no obstacle.  A mighty forest born of ages long past cannot withstand a spark that ignites a fire, how could one's obstacles or enemies possibly contend?

 

Ah, but however strong and everlasting the fire inside may burn, the inevitable reality comes to pass.  Fire may only exist as long as there is fuel to sustain it.  The "fire inside" one's motivation, the drive factor, is impossible to attain without fuel.  

 

The fuel for one's fire can be described in many ways, and thought of in different forms.  Let us begin to forgo the illusions and be more straightforward.  Fire is fueled by the ego.  Fueled by the self.  Whatever myriad form it may take is irrelevant, because determination, hate, sorrow, humiliation, shame, anger, and other forms of ego motivated emotions will always supply a finite amount of fuel for one's fire.  An individual feels a response, then a burst of flame.  But a raging fire will always settle into kindling.

 

For those who seek motivation, fuel, who often delve with fire, I offer my favorite chapter of the Tao Te Ching:

Chapter 15

 

The ancient masters were subtle, mysterious, profound, responsive.
The depth of their knowledge is unfathomable.
Because it is unfathomable,
All we can do is describe their appearance.
Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream.
Alert, like men aware of danger.
Courteous, like visiting guests.
Yielding, like ice about to melt.
Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood.
Hollow, like caves.
Opaque, like muddy pools.

Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
Who can remain still until the moment of action?
Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfilment.
Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.

 

This may not be my preferred translation, however it does help convey a truth.  The fire inside is but an illusion.  The ego is not the way, and one's inner self knows this reality.  But let us ask, what can stop the water from falling?  Is there a possibility for one man to cease a waterfall?  Can a river's rapid course be diverted by the rocks that reside in its bed?

 

Water has no emotion, as it yields to all things.  A Taoist favorite among imagery, nevertheless, it is for a reason.

 

If you are an individual in need of motivation, then observe water.  Yield and go with the flow of events.  When the times comes for you to crash like the massive waves of the ocean in a storm, then you will do so effortlessly.  When morning comes and the water is calm and undisturbed, you will return as nature intended.  There is no emotion, only the Tao.
 

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2 hours ago, I Peng said:

"Find that fire inside you." 

 

The popular modern term to incite motivation and enthusiasm in an individual.  To find one's fire is to seek one's goals with determination and straightforwardness that cowers to no obstacle.  A mighty forest born of ages long past cannot withstand a spark that ignites a fire, how could one's obstacles or enemies possibly contend?

 

Ah, but however strong and everlasting the fire inside may burn, the inevitable reality comes to pass.  Fire may only exist as long as there is fuel to sustain it.  The "fire inside" one's motivation, the drive factor, is impossible to attain without fuel.  

 

The fuel for one's fire can be described in many ways, and thought of in different forms.  Let us begin to forgo the illusions and be more straightforward.  Fire is fueled by the ego.  Fueled by the self.  Whatever myriad form it may take is irrelevant, because determination, hate, sorrow, humiliation, shame, anger, and other forms of ego motivated emotions will always supply a finite amount of fuel for one's fire.  An individual feels a response, then a burst of flame.  But a raging fire will always settle into kindling.

 

For those who seek motivation, fuel, who often delve with fire, I offer my favorite chapter of the Tao Te Ching:

Chapter 15

 

The ancient masters were subtle, mysterious, profound, responsive.
The depth of their knowledge is unfathomable.
Because it is unfathomable,
All we can do is describe their appearance.
Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream.
Alert, like men aware of danger.
Courteous, like visiting guests.
Yielding, like ice about to melt.
Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood.
Hollow, like caves.
Opaque, like muddy pools.

Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
Who can remain still until the moment of action?
Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfilment.
Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.

 

This may not be my preferred translation, however it does help convey a truth.  The fire inside is but an illusion.  The ego is not the way, and one's inner self knows this reality.  But let us ask, what can stop the water from falling?  Is there a possibility for one man to cease a waterfall?  Can a river's rapid course be diverted by the rocks that reside in its bed?

 

Water has no emotion, as it yields to all things.  A Taoist favorite among imagery, nevertheless, it is for a reason.

 

If you are an individual in need of motivation, then observe water.  Yield and go with the flow of events.  When the times comes for you to crash like the massive waves of the ocean in a storm, then you will do so effortlessly.  When morning comes and the water is calm and undisturbed, you will return as nature intended.  There is no emotion, only the Tao.
 

I agree with tons of what you said, however the part where you say there's no emotion is where I'd like you to elaborate.

 

We have emotions, they're naturally apart of our biomechanics. To deny part of one's nature is not Taoist in how I understand it. However maybe to let emotions flow like water, then when necessary deal with their "crashes", I can understand that as part of the Tao philosophy.  

 

I'm definitely interested in your view because your way sounds different than mine,an it's fascinating. I hope I learn something. That exert from the Tao te Ching is awesome btw.

 

I just wanted to add that our ego can fuel our fire, or if we return to our nature, our spirit fuels us. Since the spirit is thought by some to be limitless, then there's an endless supply to fuel our flame.

Edited by Hancock
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3 minutes ago, Hancock said:

I agree with tons of what you said, however the part where you say there's no emotion is where I'd like you to elaborate.

 

We have emotions, they're naturally apart of our biomechanics. To deny part of one's nature is not Taoist in how I understand it. However maybe to let emotions flow like water, then when necessary deal with their "crashes", I can understand that as part of the Tao philosophy.  

 

I'm definitely interested in your view because your way sounds different than mine,an it's fascinating. I hope I learn something. That exert from the Tao te Ching is awesome btw.

 

I just wanted to add that our ego can fuel our fire, or if we return to our nature, our spirit fuels us. Since the spirit is thought by some to be limitless, then there's an endless supply to fuel our flame.

 

My friend,

A person cannot deny their own emotions in the same way that a person cannot deny being human.  You are correct that emotions are in our nature.  I'm also happy that you bring biomechanics into this conversation because emotion at its most basic level is an instinctive chemical response to stimuli.  Let us return to this passage of chapter 15:

 

Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
Who can remain still until the moment of action?
Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfilment.
Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.

 

Stillness is an ever present aspect of Taoism.  Still water is able to become clear, as it allows the mud and sediment to sink.  I am reminded of a favored quote, "Be the still point in the turning world."  

 

I have a great many passages to quote from the Tao Te Ching to support this, but I instead will choose a story from the inner chapters of Chuang -Tzu, I do confess that similarly to chapter 15 of the Tao Te Ching, this is my favorite chapter of Chuang - Tzu:


Cook Ting was cutting up an ox for Lord Wen-hui. As every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee — zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to the Ching-shou music.

“Ah, this is marvelous!” said Lord Wen-hui. “Imagine skill reaching such heights!”

Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, “What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And now — now I go at it by spirit and don’t look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and following things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint.

“A good cook changes his knife once a year — because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month — because he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room — more than enough for the blade to play about it. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone.

“However, whenever I come to a complicated place, I size up the difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on what I’m doing, work very slowly, and move the knife with the greatest subtlety, until — flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground. I stand there holding the knife and look all around me, completely satisfied and reluctant to move on, and then I wipe off the knife and put it away.”

“Excellent!” said Lord Wen-hui. “I have heard the words of Cook Ting and learned how to care for life!”

 

Again this is not my preferred translation, but it is precise.  Cook Ting does not eliminate the emotion that is part of his inner being.  It is what makes him human, and part of the Tao.  However Cook Ting also cultivates the Taoist aspect of stillness, because when feeling the emotion of "caution" he slows his actions, becomes still, deliberate, and his movements become emotionless as he unifies with the Tao.  Truly effortless as he navigates the complex and unique joints, or in this specific translation, "the complicated places."

 

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8 minutes ago, I Peng said:

 

My friend,

A person cannot deny their own emotions in the same way that a person cannot deny being human.  You are correct that emotions are in our nature.  I'm also happy that you bring biomechanics into this conversation because emotion at its most basic level is an instinctive chemical response to stimuli.  Let us return to this passage of chapter 15:

 

Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
Who can remain still until the moment of action?
Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfilment.
Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.

 

Stillness is an ever present aspect of Taoism.  Still water is able to become clear, as it allows the mud and sediment to sink.  I am reminded of a favored quote, "Be the still point in the turning world."  

 

I have a great many passages to quote from the Tao Te Ching to support this, but I instead will choose a story from the inner chapters of Chuang -Tzu, I do confess that similarly to chapter 15 of the Tao Te Ching, this is my favorite chapter of Chuang - Tzu:


Cook Ting was cutting up an ox for Lord Wen-hui. As every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee — zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to the Ching-shou music.

“Ah, this is marvelous!” said Lord Wen-hui. “Imagine skill reaching such heights!”

Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, “What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And now — now I go at it by spirit and don’t look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and following things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint.

“A good cook changes his knife once a year — because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month — because he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room — more than enough for the blade to play about it. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone.

“However, whenever I come to a complicated place, I size up the difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on what I’m doing, work very slowly, and move the knife with the greatest subtlety, until — flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground. I stand there holding the knife and look all around me, completely satisfied and reluctant to move on, and then I wipe off the knife and put it away.”

“Excellent!” said Lord Wen-hui. “I have heard the words of Cook Ting and learned how to care for life!”

 

Again this is not my preferred translation, but it is precise.  Cook Ting does not eliminate the emotion that is part of his inner being.  It is what makes him human, and part of the Tao.  However Cook Ting also cultivates the Taoist aspect of stillness, because when feeling the emotion of "caution" he slows his actions, becomes still, deliberate, and his movements become emotionless as he unifies with the Tao.  Truly effortless as he navigates the complex and unique joints, or in this specific translation, "the complicated places."

 

That s awesome. I like stories like this. Is there a website you can link to so I can read more.

 

Thank you very much for posting. It's much appreciated.

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8 hours ago, Hancock said:

That s awesome. I like stories like this. Is there a website you can link to so I can read more.

 

Thank you very much for posting. It's much appreciated.

The link here will take you to the section of The Dao Bums that has a variety of translations of Chuang-Tzu:

Secondly, if you enjoy stories I would recommend researching koans.  Koans are essentially short story anecdotes to help students understand whichever concept a teacher may attempt to convey. 

 

Be advised that koans are a zen Buddhist tradition and not Taoist, although they can certainly help one realize aspects of the Tao as well.  Here is a site that has a nice variety in an easy to navigate format:  

http://www.ashidakim.com/zenkoans/zenindex.html

I'll leave you with one of my favorite koans;

 

Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind.
One said, “The flag moves.”
The other said, “The wind moves.”
They argued back and forth but could not agree.
Hui-neng, the sixth patriarch, said: “Gentlemen! It is not the flag that moves. It is not the wind that moves. It is your mind that moves.”
The two monks were struck with awe.

 

 

 

 

Edited by I Peng

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3 hours ago, I Peng said:

The link here will take you to the section of The Dao Bums that has a variety of translations of Chuang-Tzu:

Secondly, if you enjoy stories I would recommend researching koans.  Koans are essentially short story anecdotes to help students understand whichever concept a teacher may attempt to convey. 

 

Be advised that koans are a zen Buddhist tradition and not Taoist, although they can certainly help one realize aspects of the Tao as well.  Here is a site that has a nice variety in an easy to navigate format:  

http://www.ashidakim.com/zenkoans/zenindex.html

I'll leave you with one of my favorite koans;

 

Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind.
One said, “The flag moves.”
The other said, “The wind moves.”
They argued back and forth but could not agree.
Hui-neng, the sixth patriarch, said: “Gentlemen! It is not the flag that moves. It is not the wind that moves. It is your mind that moves.”
The two monks were struck with awe.

 

 

 

 

Awesome. Thank you.

 

That mind moving one is cool, I like how it points things out directly.

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