Saturday, December 26, 2020

Wu Hsin - Aphorisms for thirsty fish


Our attachment to beliefs …

    The attachment to beliefs is
    The greatest shackle.
    To be free is
    To know that
    One does not know.

Sleep …

    It is understood that
    Sleep is the desire for
    A period of rest
    For the body.
    It is less understood that
    Sleep is the desire for
    A period of rest
    Away from the body.

True peace cannot be disturbed…

    What is called peace by many is
    Merely the absence of disturbance.
    True peace cannot be disturbed;
    It resides beyond the reach of disturbance.

As if addressing our soundbite culture …

    When one is enthralled with
    The beauty on the surface of the ocean,
    The immensity of its depths can
    Never be discerned.

You can’t think your way to freedom.

    Controlling the mind doesn’t
    Take one to freedom.
    Controlling the mind
    Adds another link To one’s shackles.

Pain is physical, whereas suffering is mental.

    Whereas pain is
    A physical experience
    Suffering is a mental one.
    It is the sense that
    Things should be
    Other than they are.
    Its antidote is Acceptance.

We can be in a crowd and still be alone.

    Solitude is not
    A condition of the body.
    Instead, it is
    A condition of the mind.
    Solitude may be found
    In the busy market or
    May be elusive in the forest.

Feeling lost is the first step

    For many,
    The first step on
    A spiritual journey is to
    Become lost.
    The final step is
    Losing one’s self.

As if to explain why consumption does not make us any happier …

    Chasing after the things
    One yearns for is
    Inferior to
    Chasing after
    The source of the yearning.

The search for happiness …

    To search for happiness
    Implies its absence.
    This implication is a fundamental flaw.
    Happiness is ever present.
    It may become obscured,
    Such obscuration being temporary.

How magicians fool us …

    The preoccupation with
    The foreground, the sights,
    The smells,
    The sounds,
    Takes the attention away from
    The background.
    Yet, it is in this very background that
    The Mystery resides.

The natural doesn’t need laws

    What is natural
    Follows no laws nor
    Requires any.
    Can there be a rule for
    The beating of the heart or
    The blackness of the raven?
    There is a natural rhythm to
    The workings of the world.
    Some are discernable
    While others cannot be discerned.
    It is the dance
    Between the two that
    Creates action.

We cannot hide from ourself.

    There is no forest,
    There is no cave,
    There is no mountaintop
    Where one can hide From oneself.

Live in the moment …

    The greatest enjoyment is experienced
    When there is no concern for its duration.

Speaking of mindfulness, before it had a name, he writes:

    The sum of a past is I was.
    The sum of a future is
    I will be.
    The continuous crossing back and forth
    Between the two
    Obscures the present moment,
    The I am, Being Itself.

On freedom …

    A free man’s life is
    A life that is free of
    Free of dependency.
    With nothing to drag along
    One goes where one will.

Anyone who has ever lived through a corporate reorganization …

    Do not mistake
    A mere rearranging of the furniture
    For true change.

Being content is about dropping attachment and desire.

    The man of contentment
    Seeks nothing that
    He doesn’t have and
    Understands that
    Whatever he has
    Isn’t his to own.

In fact he later writes: “Chasing after more and more is futile. It is only less and less that lastingly satisfies.”

Building on this he incisively looks at our expectations

    Expectation is the grandfather of
    The world can never
    Own a man Who wants nothing.

Hsin writes on our desire to seek confirmation of what we already know.

    You are not satisfied
    With the answers
    Given by others.
    So you come to Wu Hsin.
    But what you really seek
    Are not answers
    But confirmation
    Of what you think
    You already know.
    If you were to admit
    That you know nothing,
    Then I will most gladly answer.

The greatest crime …

    The greatest crime is
    The overlooking of
    Who you really are In favor of
    The story of
    Who you think you are.
    This preoccupation with
    Your personal drama is
    The cloud that masks The sun.

On how to change the world …

    To conquer the large,
    Begin with the small.
    To change your world,
    Begin by changing yourself.
    What needs to be changed?
    Only the point of view.

Hsin, sees failure as an opportunity.

    Nothing succeeds like failure.
    Failure is a natural
    Call for attention,
    Like pain.
    To pay attention is to
    Step out of your trance.

Sometimes you have to crack some eggs

    To free the chick,
    The shell must be broken.
    To free what is inside
    One must shatter
    What is outside.

How we live …

    What is known is familiar
    Yet unsatisfying.
    What is unknown is feared
    Yet desired Life thrives in risks and
    Dies in stasis.

On the delta between our expectations and reality …

    The world changes profoundly
    When demands on it cease.
    The real world and one’s imagined world
    Share little.

What’s better than the acquisition of knowledge? Invert. Getting rid of ignorance. This passage also reminds me of the Arab Scholar Ali Bin Abi-Taleb, who said: “keeping one’s distance from an ignorant person is equivalent to keeping company with a wise man.”

    Ridding oneself of ignorance is
    Worth more than the acquisition of knowledge.
    With memory gone
    The past is gone
    Relinquishing hopes and fears
    The future is gone.
    The present is upon you.
    In every moment.
    You are free.

Not only is Hsin full of knowledge, he’s often beautiful in his writing. Consider this …

    The Infinite has no preferences.
    It kisses both the darkness and
    The light equally.

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