For every act of evil, there is an act of beauty. You Can't Change the World, Only Your Attitude Towards It.

The day the stream froze

For thousands of years the best wisdom was passed on by word of mouth, adapted to needs, forgotten, made anew, and referred to as the words of the "Old Master". No one knew of the Old Master as it was said that the best masters were unknown. All good wisdom that came about was credited to the Old Master as if to give the wisdom reverence and to save the modern thinker the egotistical disgrace of attaching their own name to generic and flowing wisdom.

There came a time when the new art-form of the written word was spreading from the cities where it was invented to the people who wandered the country. In the hands of one very talented writer and poet this written word was inked onto bamboo strips and was called the Tao Ching, The Great work of The Way. Later this talented writer wrote the Te Ching, The Great work of Virtue- he naturally attributed these works to the Old Master as they had been passed on for so many thousands of years by word of mouth and he simply laid them down in ink.

Some years later the writer took a new angle and wrote some amusing tales referring to the Tao from the perspective of a wise sage called Chuang - these funny tales captured the essence of the Old Masters sayings but were seen as a little to wry to be attributed to Mr Lao. After later reworks and further contributions from other authors this work came to be seen a the pinnacle of this kind of thought, capturing both the essence of the wisdom and the humour of those "on the way".

On another continent the words of a man who actually said very little, The Buddha, were also written down for the first time and embellished with poetry and so on. Much of the repetition and the numerical memory techniques employed by the word-of-mouth masters previous were maintained in these written works and volumes were written where the 5 of this and the 8 of that rambled on for pages and pages. Reworks of the concepts came to be know as the Diamond Sutra, Flower Sutra and more, all lengthy remixes with plenty of author-added bumf embellishing the few spoken words of the inferred master and author. In fact in years to come the Buddha said "I never said that! They made it so complicated!".

And so the stream froze.

In years to come wisdom was no longer passed on by word-of-mouth, adapted to needs, forgotten and reworked - it was instead referred to as sacred, set in stone and not to be swayed from.

So I ask you to take the words, feel their essence and then flow on. Burn the book and follow the smoke.

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Tao Wow | Daily Cup of Tao

2 comments:

Fay's Too said...

I hope it's ok that I'm going to link to this. It's exactly what I needed to read now. Thank you. And after I link it, I'll burn it.
:)

The Rambling Taoist said...

Your beautiful post reminded me -- for some odd reason -- of the lyrics of "Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver.