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Fishing in the Mysterious Valley

To: alt.philosophy.taoism
From: (Spring)
Subject: Re: Fishing in the Mysterious Valley
Date: Sat, 31 May 1997 21:54:04 -0700

>D9<-----Playing in the sandbox of immanent expression.  : )
>Z >-----*Ship-wrecked* in the sandbox of immanent expression  : (

hi hi


_Gold from Sand_

The "divine golden medicine" is the most important metaphor for the
process of spiritual cultivation in the ancient tradition of integral
spiritual development.  Are you aware of how much gold can be gathered
from tons of sand?  In an ordinary life being, there may also be
"gold"-- the essence of life.  Through the process of spiritual
cultivation, one refines oneself, disposing of the sand and retaining
the gold.  Having obtained the gold, one then has the necessary
material for refining the "divine immortal medicine."

Spiritual cultivation involves removing the coarse and keeping what is
truly precious.  This process involves a great deal of work.  Many
teachings emphasize throwing away what is coarse, but too often they
throw away the essence at the same time.  Some teachings even use that
essence in exchange for what is false.  These kinds of teachings are
very popular in today's world.  True cultivation requires much time
and daily practice, whereas conceptual achievement can be immediate.

- Hua-Ching Ni, from _Entering the Tao_


and from the same source, for those of you who are Chaung Tzu fans out
there, especially z and george henry... a tribute to past days...

_Way to Go_

For worldly problems and complications there is only one way to go.  I
will tell you a story which is a Taoist treasure that can be applied
to all the troubles of modern life.

Cook Ting was cutting an ox after a sacrifice to be used as food for
Lord Wen of Hui.  At every touch of the hand, every heave of the
shoulder, every move of the feet, every bend of the knee, he slipped
the knife along effortlessly and all was in perfect rhythm as though
he were performing the dance of the mulberry grove to the flow of the
melody of Yao's music.

"Ah, this is marvelous," said Lord Wen of Hui.  "Imagine skill
reaching such heights!"

Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, "What I care about is the
natural path which goes beyond skill.  When I first began cutting
oxen, all I could see was the ox itself.  After three years I no
longer saw the whole ox.  Now I go at it through intuition.
Perception and understanding have come to a stop and intuition moves
where it wants.  I go along with the natural construction, strike in
the big hollow places, guide the knife through large openings, and
follow things as they are.  So I never touch the smallest ligament or
tendon, much less the main joints.

"A good cook changes knives once a year, because he cuts.  A mediocre
cook changes his once a month, because he hacks.  I've had this knife
of mine for nineteen years and I've cut thousands of oxen with it, yet
the blade is a good as new."

"There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife is
just as if it had no thickness really.  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.  And after nineteen years, the
blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the

"However, whenever I come to a complicated spot, I size up the
difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on
what I as doing, work very slowly and move the knife with the greatest
subtlety until the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth
flopping to the ground.  I stand there holding the knife and look all
around me, my mind completely full with the satisfaction of
accomplishing a perfect job, and then I wipe the knife and put it

"Excellent," said Lord Wen of Hui.  "I have heard the words of Cook
Ting and learned how to solve the problems of life!"

The metaphor of the ox represents the stubbornness of the external
world before it is tamed.  A Taoist does not hold a passive attitude
toward the world.  You have seen the picture of Lao Tzu riding the ox.
The ox does not ride him!  In all circumstances we must be patient and
have a clear vision of how to handle any situation.  I hope you can do
it in the same way Cook Ting deftly carved his ox.



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