Lotus in the Mud

A person in pain does not need philosophy.
Philosophy keeps us safe, we think.
We do not want to wail and weep,
so instead we philosophize and say,
“there must be answers somewhere, somehow,
help me, please, to find them.”
And philosophers in their towers ponder
and fill shelves with their learned tomes
that bring no help to anyone.
Is there an answer anywhere
that can bring an end to sorrow?

When sorrow comes, it’s best to wail and weep.
If one can wail and weep with others, even better.
Don’t try to find the answers.
Let the sorrow fill you to the brim and overflow,
but when the sorrow passes, let it go.
It will return, and pass again,
and return again, and pass again.
Each time it returns, greet it gently,
“Hello sorrow, I recognize you.
Come on in. You are welcome here.
Let us weep together.”

Time passes and it drops in less and less,
and eventually simply goes by on the path
and nods a greeting as it passes.
In the meantime compassion sprouts and grows
and soon it fills our hearts completely.
It is in the muddy soil of pain
that the seeds of true compassion spring.
As a teacher wisely said,
“The mud is in the Lotus,
the Lotus is in the mud.”

The Way is “Wu”

In this divided world, how does one take action
without opposing, judging,
and trying always to fix the others?
Getting “them” to behave as I would wish
by argument, shame, or force of law
is futile.
When polarities exist
(and in the world of form they always do)
we must move and act in another way,
and that “way” is “wu.”

“Wu-wei,” the Tao Te Ching reveals,
is an effortless way of living
that does not let the poles demand
a response of either “this,” or, “that.”
It is another way of being.
“Wu” means “not”
and “Wei” means “action, doing.”
So, “not doing, doing” is the way.

Sounds crazy, no?
But in our crazy world there is but one way out
and that, “wei” is “wu.”
Authentic action flows and slaloms its path
along a course of least resistance,
never constellating the polarities to such a degree
that suffering and resistance drag us down.

So I don’t attack the problem.
I sit and wait, and watch, and open
that part of my mind that does not think or problem-solve,
but simply sees with clarity, with ease,
and without urgency, without attachment.
The “wei” reveals itself, and surprise!
It also does itself.

And that “wei” that does itself is “wu.”