“USUAL LIFE”, said the sage, “IS VERY TAO”.

“How Tao is Mao and his little red book?

How Tao the Bomb? How Tao Black Power?”

“AS WELL TO ASK ‘HOW WHEN IS ZEN?”.

“And Then? – What then?”

“ORDINARY LIFE IS VERY TAO” smiles the sage.

“CEASE ONLY TO CHERISH ILLUSIONS.

ALL YOUR CONFUSIONS

ARE FALSELY IMAGINED.

WHAT YOU ARE DOING –

THAT YOU ARE DOING.

WHEN YOU ARE SITTING SIT!”

 

“But Computers – ” I said,

“And probes to the moon –

The Space Race – The Rat race —

And JohnPaulandRingo and George, and the Stones

And the pope-and -the-pill-and-the-pops?”

 

“BASHO WROTE HAIKU.

VERY POP – VERY TAO.

ALL IS TAO”.

 

“Well how about War?

World wars one and two,

And the six million Jews,

Vietnam and napalm.

Is this part of your Tao?”

 

“TO LIVE IS TO DIE” said the sage,

“TO DIE – TO HAVE LIVED.

YOU DO WHAT YOU DO.

YOU PLAY ALL YOUR GAMES

SOME SILLY, SOME SAD,

SOME SANE AND SOME MAD,

BUT THAT WHICH IS – IS.

AND WHATEVER YOU DO,

THAT YOU DO

IN THE TAO”.

 

“But what of Free Will?

Do I do what I must?”

“NO PLANNER – NO PLAN.

FOR PLANNING’S A GAME.

YOU DO WHAT YOU WANT.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S A CATCH.

DO YOU WANT WHAT YOU WANT?

OR DECIDE TO DECIDE?

IS IT NOT PRIDE

THAT DAZZLES YOUR VIEW

OF THE LIFE OF THE TAO?

 

“IT WAS WRITTEN OF OLD

THAT FROM OUT OF THE WEST

THERE CAME TO THE COURT OF THE EMPEROR WU

BODHIDARMA THE HOLY.

AND THE EMPEROR SPAKE:

 

“‘I HAVE BUILT MANY TEMPLES,

TRANSLATED THE SCRIPTURES,

DONE MANY GOOD WORKS’ SAID THE EMPEROR WU.

‘WHAT THEN IS MY MERIT?’

‘NONE WHATSOEVER!’ THE WISE MAN REPLIED.

AND HIS WORDS ARE STILL TRUE

OF YOUR WORKS, AND YOU

IN THE TAO.”

 

“Do you mean to say

That all living is vain,

And the whole bloody mess

Is a sham and a trick?

What is there to live for?”

 

“WHAT IS THERE TO DIE FOR?”

The sage gave a smile

Of ineffable light,

“ALL THAT I ASK

IS THAT YOU SHOULD SEE,

IN ITS PROPER PERSPECTIVE,

THE WORLD IN THE TAO.

THE HUMAN BEING HUMAN,

WITH HUMAN EMOTIONS,

AND LOVES HOPES AND FEARS

AND LAUGHTER

AND TEARS.

BUT DON’T GET THE NOTION

TO EXTEND TO THE WORLD

YOUR RELATIVE VALUES.

“THAT IS THE MISTAKE.

THAT STRIVING TO FIND

THE THINGS THAT YOU ARE

IN THE THINGS YOU ARE NOT;

AND THAT WHICH IS NOT

IN THAT WHICH YOU ARE.

 

“BUT WHATEVER YOU DO

IS PART OF THE TAO.

SPONTANEOUS ACTION,

THE PATTERN THAT CHANGES,

AND CHANGE IS THE PATTERN,

FOR THAT WHICH IS ENDLESS

IS ALSO – BEGINNINGLESS.

AND ETERNITY – TO BE ETERNITY –

IS TWO DIRECTIONAL IN ITS ONENESS;

A COSMIC KALEIDOSCOPE!

AND YOU ARE IN IT.

RIGHT IN IT!” he grinned.

 

“Then whatever I do”

I said with a sigh,

“Is that which I’m doing.

There IS only Now.”

 

“USUAL LIFE” said the sage,

“IS VERY TAO!”

 

Copyright H.St.V.Beechey. 1968.