Like water

Best to be like water,
Which benefits the ten thousand things
And does not contend,
It pools where humans disdain to dwell,
Close to the Tao.

-Tao Te Ching, 8, trans. Addis and Lombardo.

When you do not-doing
nothing's out of order.

Tao Te Ching, 4, made verse by Ursula LeGuin, who comments that wei wu wei, Do not Do, act without acting, is the heart of the book; the whole book is an explanation and a demonstration of it.

Saifa and pictureThe kata Saifa has violent bunkai. It is one thing to hit a man and let his natural inertia make his body absorb the energy of the blow; it is another to hold a head so that it takes that energy. After Saturday, I am encouraged to get out my kata DVD at last and do some serious practice. I started in pyjamas, but putting on the gi felt fitting, as did tidying the room, already my ritual spiritual space, as my dojo. One hour yesterday, one hour today, I have practised Saifa and studied the video.

And I am tense. This is Fighting, so my muscles tense and I think about the force of my blow; and that takes away from the force. In the bathroom this morning, 7°C with snow outside, I first tense in the discomfort then relax. I do not want to be in this cold for long, but I can be here, just letting my body cope with the temperature. Practising kata without any tension at all is difficult- it is a blow, it must be tense- and making the move in a relaxed doing-notdoing way with the snap, the tension, only at the last moment is particularly difficult. And it means taking the ego-mind out of the equation, so that the body does what it must.

Tao te ching 5: Wise souls aren’t humane. To them the hundred families are straw dogs. LeGuin comments that this “inhumanity” is not cruelty, for cruelty and altruism alike come from the ego-mind. “Followers of the Way, like the forces of nature, act selflessly.” I seek to strip away my socialisation, which constrains me, and rely on the creativity and God-ness of that inhumanity to be sufficiently good. I imagine cracking a skull not because I want to do that, but because I want to do what is necessary.

And- U, falling in love with me, saw the warm humour of my left eye; and falling out, noticed my right eye, its cold watchfulness. These are visible in the picture. She said it out loud as she thought it, and I heard the sub-vocalisation, which hit me in the throat. It is a reason, to go along with all the causes, that I do not trust my unself-ed being.

9 thoughts on “Like water

  1. Dear Clare

    “And- U, falling in love with me, saw the warm humour of my left eye; and falling out, noticed my right eye, its cold watchfulness. These are visible in the picture.”

    Perhaps you are too harsh on yourself here, and confuse mere justifications with fact. U loved you – so she saw the love; and then decided not, and saw the un-love; and you reconcile yourself (or punish yourself? I am not sure which) by stating it as a fact.

    Some say it is the eyelids that give the eyes their expression, so if you would like to blame them… 😉

    All I see is you looking oh so serious, and want to give you a hug.

    Have a wonderful day. xx


  2. Therefore the Sage puts himself last, And finds himself in the foremost place; Regards his body as accidental, And his body is thereby preserved. Is it not because he does not live for Self That his Self is realized?


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