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GRAINS OF RICE
It is said of the great old masters of Kung Fu that their toes were so agile they could use them to pick up individual grains of rice from the dojo floor. Some of the following little nuggets of wisdom are not Oriental rice but Occidental wheat, and some of them are pure American corn. They are intended to be picked up not by agile toes, but by agile minds.
As the softest clay, under the guidance of the potter's hand and through the trial of the kiln becomes the hardest porcelain; as the fragile leaf through time and stress becomes the most perfect diamond; as the stream of fiery ore binds itself to itself to become unyielding steel, so too can a man become most firmly himself.
As the granite crag becomes the finest silt under the glacier's relentlessly-grinding palm; as the humble grass eventually turns the hardest stones into living bread; as the meteor's star-forged steel is ion-stripped to less than atoms in its glorious fall from the sky, so too a man can be set free of his most rigid limitations and remember his most essential self.
Time is carving you; let yourself be shaped according to your true nature. You are shaped as you shape those around you. Consider the meeting of the rock and the wind, of Ken, the unmoving Mountain, and Sun, the penetrating Wind. When they first meet, the wind must take the shape of the rock to pass around it; after a long time, one can see that the rock has grown smooth and rounded, and has taken the shape of the wind. Then their meeting is in perfect accord with the natures of each; this is the harmony of opposites through maturity.
The Superior Man is at one with the Universe. But what is the Universe? Rather ask, what is not the Universe, for in the knowledge thereof lies your own essence.
The Universe is in your eye and in your heart, as the peach seed contains the fragrance of the bloom and the substance of the fruit...and what the tree has been, and what it shall be.
By making with the mind and the heart a bond between the finite and the infinite, the essence of the spirit will deliver Chi, the power of the Universe, and the will of The Superior Man is thus in harmony with the Tao, and he can accomplish the inevitable.
God's Universe is entropic - it is running down.
That which shrinks must first be expanded
That which fails must first be strong;
That which is cast down must first be raised up;
Before giving, there must be having;
Before having, being;
Before being there is only Chi, the breath of God.
Under heaven, all can know good as good only because there is evil. Having and not-having arise together; difficult and easy complement each other; high and low rest upon each other; front and back follow one another. The threads that make up our human nature are two-ended. There is no capacity for feeling pride without an equal capacity for feeling shame. One cannot feel joy unless one could also feel despair. We have no capacity for good, without an equal capacity for evil.
Is this not an occasion for anguish? Are we not therefore damned? Must we fear our own humanity to fight evil? Who can defeat himself?
Mastery of the self is only a matter of will. There is nothing to defeat, for there is no opponent. All that is necessary is that we face the truth about the duality of our own nature -- and choose.
For good, return good;
For evil, return justice.
Revenge is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. He who exacts an eye for an eye becomes the thing he abhors, as one who executes a man for killing another becomes a killer also. Will not one who hates killing enough to execute killers hate himself for becoming one?
The Superior Man's heart is not shut within itself, but is open to the hearts of others. He says, "Find good people good, bad people good, because I am good enough. Trust men of their words, and liars, if I am true enough." To be yourself, feel the heartbeats of others above your own.
In this imperfect world in which we live, perfection is an illusion; and so the standards by which we seek to measure it are also illusions. If perfection is measured by age, race, color of skin or hair, physical or mental prowess, or by our accomplishments, the purity of our intentions, or the clarity of our thoughts, then we are all lacking. It is well to remember that the harshest judgements are reserved for ourselves.
The cycle of a fighting career:
incapacity, beginning, successful challenging, maturity,
championship, waning defense, retirement, incapacity.
One who knew the nature of Buddha said, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." It is the most difficult (and essential) task of the teacher to teach his students that it is the most difficult (and essential) task of students to free themselves of the teacher. It is a good lesson, but you can do better: If you meet the Buddha on the road, give him a sweet peach, and a little Southern Comfort, and go your way in joy.
How can you control such a thing as friendship, which requires the consent of two persons? Consider deeply before binding yourself to an ideal, a cause, a man. What is an oath worth that binds the man who makes it to an unachievable task?
Each man has the right to choose his enemies and his friends. He may choose unwisely, but the decision is his alone to make. Then he must live with the consequences, and so must his enemies and his friends.
In friendship, honor and respect should exist before offering of gifts. To accept a gift offered without love is false.
Believing is a fine thing, but acting on those beliefs is the true test of purpose. Many are those who talk like the roar of the sea, but their lives are shallow and stagnant, like rotting marshes. Many are those who lift their heads in pride like the mountaintops, but their spirits are dormant like the breath of dark caverns.
Ten thousand people carring signs in the streets
which say, "Somebody Do Something!" are doing nothing.
One man who sweeps up the trash after their passage is of greater value.
Although the steel be good, without the use of the abrasive stone,
the sword will not cut clean.
Though a man's natural abilities be excellent,
without learning he will not rise high.
A man may recognize principles to be good, but until he learns to apply
them he does not know their value.
It is by the struggle to learn, and to apply his learning
that a man knows his deficiencies, and can overcome them.
If there is something you have not studied, or having studied it,
you are unable to do it, do not file it away.
If there is a question to which you have been unable to find an answer,
do not consider it finished.
If you have not thought of a problem, or you have not resolved it,
do not think the problem settled.
If you have tried to make a distinction, but have not made it clear,
do not sink into complacency.
If there is a principle which you have not been able to put into practice,
do not cease to persevere.
If one person gets there with one try, try ten times;
if another with one hundred tries, try a thousand.
Proceeding in this manner, even one who is slow will find the light;
even a weak person will find his Chi.
It is not how many times a man falls that determines his worth;
it is how many times he gets back up.
"The weakest soul, knowing its own weakness, and believing this truth - that strength can only be developed by effort and practice - will at once begin to exert itself, and adding effort to effort, patience to patience, and strength to strength, will never cease to develop, and will at last grow divinely strong." James Allen
Run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourself many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but you who aspire to become The Superior Man do it for a higher reward that does not tarnish or fade. So run straight to the goal with a purpose in every step. Like an athlete you must punish the body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants. Otherwise you should fear that after enlisting others for the race, you yourself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside.
The struggle to become The Superior Man
is like a race in which the prize is given to all
who reach the finish line; it does not matter
how long it takes, or who has gone before.
The ancients say, "Rank and reward have no appeal for a man at one with himself." The Superior Man, he who is truly himself, will not use power to enrich his own personal interests, because he understands the virtue of poverty, and has no reason to unnecessarily burden himself with wealth. He goes his way without depending on others, yet he is not so arrogant as to think that he needs no one. The greatest man is no one, and it is by becoming a servant to many that he may find the virtue of wealth.
If, in serving, one is served,
and in being served, one also serves,
are not these the folds of the same garment?
Be wary of using the curse; curses are declared evil because they are self-defeating. If you curse someone, and then you ever do or become that which you have cursed, then your curse is upon you, and you destroy yourself. Remember that you judge yourself always in your own court, and none is more tightly bound than he who binds himself. Your only freedom is to forgive the one whom you cursed.
The lesson of choosing poverty for righteousness sake is that only the rich have the power to change the lot of the poor; the lesson of accepting wealth for righteousness sake is that power corrupts. Between this fire and that ice, a man may hope to do some good.
You may do good without thinking of fame, but fame will come to you nonetheless. You may have fame without aiming at riches, but riches are sure to follow. You may be rich without wishing to provoke emulation and strife, yet emulation and strife will certainly result.
Therefore the Superior Man is cautious about how he does good.
It has been said that a man is three things:
what he thinks he is, what others think he is, and what he really is.
If a man is wrong about himself, and others are wrong about him,
who is left to say what he really is?
"Not what he wishes and prays for does a man get, but what he justly earns. His wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with his thoughts and actions." James Allen
If a man spends his life working to fulfill the naive aspirations of his youth, is the man not servant to the boy? Serving any other youth, would he not call himself a fool? If the man who would be wise thus ought to divest himself of his childhood dreams, are all men then fools as boys? If so, then the best a man can hope to do is fill the heads of boys with wiser dreams.
He who does evil and is afraid of letting it be known
still has a seed of good in his evil;
He who does good and is anxious to have it known
still has a root of evil in his good.
Modesty brings success.
The way of heaven is to shine its light downward to create radiance.
The way of earth is to move upward.
One who holds a high position but remains modest shines with the light of wisdom.
One who holds a low position but remains modest cannot be passed by.
The Superior Man fulfills his purpose but does not boast of his achievements.
If you follow the Tao, you may travel all over the empire without harm. You will find peace and you will find quietness. Perhaps you will pause for music and strange foods...no harm to enjoy them. But the Tao itself has no flavor, the Tao itself has no sound, the Tao itself cannot be seen...but use it; it is never-ending.
[The Way of Virtue]
"Two-fold is the path. Understanding is for the meditative; Action is for the active. No man can attain freedom from action by abstaining from actions, nor can he become adept in understanding merely by casting off of actions. For no man ever, even for a moment, rests without action; everyone is compelled to do work by the Moods born of Nature.
"But for the man whose delight is in the immortal Self, who is contented with the Self, and is glad of the Self, there is nothing for him to work for. He has indeed nothing to gain or lose here either in action or in inaction, nor do his purposes depend on people of this earth. Therefore without attachments do the work you have to do; for the man who does his work without attachment wins to the Sprit.
Away with philosophers, away with sages. People will be a hundredfold wiser. Away with charity, away with virtue, people will return to goodness and kindness. Away with profits, away with skills. People will be free of robbers and thieves. If these are not reforms enough, then let all men simply gaze on plainness, cherish uncarved blocks of stone, forego the "I", and free themselves from all desire.
[The Way of Virtue]
"Let your reward be in the actions themselves; never in their fruits.
Under this Rule of Understanding a man frees himself
even in this life from good deeds and ill."
"When you ask why I dwell here docile among the far green hills, I laugh in my heart.
My heart is happy. The Peach blossom watches the river running but remains content.
There is a better heaven and earth than the busy world of men." [Li Po]
"My little boat is made of ebony; my flute-stops are pure gold.
Water loosens stains from silk...wine loosens sadness from the heart.
With good wine, a graceful boat, and a sweet girl's love...why be jealous of mere gods? [Li Po]
"Shape clay into a vessel; it is the space within that gives it value.
Place windows in a house; it is the opening that lets in the light.
Set spokes in a wheel; it is the emptiness of the hub that makes them useful.
Therefore, be this space at the center;
be nothing, and you will have everything to give others."
From The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about; but evermore
Came out by the same door where I went in.
With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reaped -
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."
There was the Door to which I found no Key;
There was the Veil through which I might not see -
Some little Talk awhile of Me and Thee
There was, and then no more of Thee and Me.
I sent my Soul through the Invisible
Some letter of that After-Life to spell:
And by and by my Soul returned to me,
And answered, "I Myself am Heaven and Hell."
Heaven but the Vision of fulfilled Desire
, And Hell the Shadow from a Soul on fire,
Cast on the Darkness into which Ourselves,
So late emerged from, shall so soon expire.
The moving finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears was out a Word of it.
And much as Wine has played the Infidel,
And robbed me of my Robe of Honour...well,
I wonder what the Vintners buy
One half so precious as the Stuff they sell.
The Superior Man is great without being proud;
The imposter is proud without being great.
The Superior Man is quiet and calm, awaiting for the appointments of heaven,
while the common man walks in dangerous paths looking for lucky occurrences.
The Superior Man prizes three things.
The first is gentleness, the second is frugality, and the third is humility.
By being gentle he can be bold; by being frugal he can be liberal;
by being humble he becomes a leader among men.
The Superior Man undergoes three changes. Looked at from a distance, he appears stern.
When approached, he is mild. When he speaks, his language is firm and decided.
The Superior Man desires to be forgotten, but he is remembered.
He desires to be free of life, but he retains it.
He desires nothing for himself, but he finds everything he wants.
The Superior Man is like a tool that cuts no one with its sharpness,
like a corner which injures no one with its angle.
The Superior Man is firm but does not fight;
he mixes easily with others but does not form cliques.
The Superior Man observes the issues in order to know the origin;
scrutinizes the past in order to know the future.
Such is the principle whereby he attains foreknowledge.
The Superior Man has none to contend with because he does not contend;
he heals and overcomes.
The Superior Man makes firm his nature and controls his mind;
The imposter makes a show of his talents and loses his temper.
When you find a person worthy to talk to and fail to talk to him, you have missed your man.
When you find one unworthy to talk to and you talk to him, you have wasted your words.
The Superior Man neither misses his man nor wastes his words.
The Superior Man makes his own decisions;
A weak man obeys public opinion.
The Superior Man seeks everything in himself;
the ignorant man tries to get everything from somebody else.
Learn first, how to live;
Learn second, how to not kill;
Learn third, how to live with death;
Learn fourth, how to die.
When you must choose between one good and another,
or one evil and another, remember this: if a man would contend with you,
seek not his death, but choose your own life.
Strength by itself is not equal to knowledge, and knowledge is not equal to training;
but combine knowledge with training, and one will get strength.
Correct striking is invisible;
your enemy should fall without seeing the hand that delivers the blow.
Beginning students block an assault;
experienced fighters attack after blocking;
the master no longer has the need to block.
Where your opponent is Yang (attacking), be Yin (withdrawn);
where your opponent is Yin (exposed), be Yang (strike).
How to fight requires mastery of the body.
When to fight requires mastery of the mind.
Whom to fight requires mastery of the heart.
A brave soldier is not violent;
A skillful fighter does not lose his temper;
A great general wins without a battle;
A mighty ruler governs through humility;
This is known as the virtue of not-striving.
Step closer, and you will see some things more clearly;
stand back, and you will see other things more clearly.
The puzzle is to take a stand such that others may see you more clearly.
Still water is like glass.
It is a perfect level a carpenter could use.
The heart of The Superior Man is tranquil and still.
Thus, it is the mirror of heaven and earth.
Be like still water, and you can look into it and see yourself.
Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
Only one who is ignorant of the truth that God is love fears God.
Knowing one's own ignorance is the first step toward wisdom.
To him who seeks God shall the way be opened.
Perfect love casts out fear.
Love of God is the fullness of wisdom.
There is no point to life --
it is round.
Rule #1: Ain't nothing means nothing.
Rule #2: Man ain't happy 'till something means something to him.
Rule #3: Find something satisfies rule #2 without breaking #1.
Rule #4: Hang on to it, baby!
Here are all the answers
...and also all the questions:
What (am I)? That.
Where (am I)? Here.
When (am I)? Now.
How (am I)? Thus.
Why (am I)? Because.
Who (am I)? I am.
You can justify feeling any way you want to: "The world is the most depressing place there is. If that doesn't grieve you, just think about this: anyone who isn't frightened in a world as dangerous as this just isn't reading the newspapers. Nobody with any sense of decency could help but be angry at the way things are today. It's always the same, and if that doesn't bore you, nothing can, cause you know what? There's always something new you haven't discovered before. Isn't that exciting!"
The Master came down from the mountain to the monastery to test the monks to select his successor. He stood before them and held up a rose, and said nothing. The monks waited attentively for him to speak. Then one monk stood and laughed, and left the assembly. The Master followed him, and placed his mantle around his shoulders.
"No guru can see through your eyes," John Lennon sang.
In our actions we should accord with the will of heaven;
in our words, we should consult the feelings of men.
Be firm in your acts, but easy in your heart;
Be strict with yourself, but be gentle with your fellow men.
It is better to believe that a man possesses good qualities
than to assert that he does not.
He who knows, yet thinks that he does not know, has great wisdom;
He who does not know and thinks he knows, is hobbled in mind.
A skillful warrior strikes a decisive blow and stops.
He strikes of necessity, not from a wish of mastery.
If speech is sweet, the echo will be sweet;
if speech is harsh, the echo will be harsh.
If the body is long, the shadow will be long;
if the body is short, the shadow will be short.
Reputation is only an echo; external conduct only a shadow.
The ability to perceive the significance of the small things of the world
is the secret of clear sightedness;
the guarding of what is soft and vulnerable is the secret of strength.
Take care, be fearful, night and day look sharp.
We do not stumble on mountains, but on clods, and fall.
The master said: "Shall I teach you what knowledge is?
When you know a thing to hold that you know it,
and when you do not know a thing to allow that you do not know it,
- this is knowledge."
The master said: "If a man would conduct himself so as to be appreciated everywhere, let his words be sincere and truthful and his actions honorable and careful. Such conduct may be practiced among the rude tribes of the south and the north. If his words are not sincere and truthful, and his actions not honorable and careful, will he with such conduct be appreciated even in his own neighborhood?"
Follow what is right and you will be fortunate;
Follow what is not right and you will be unfortunate.
The results are only shadows and echoes of our own actions.
Judge a common man by where he stands in important matters;
judge a great man by what he does in little things.
Today well-lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness,
every tomorrow a vision of hope.
A man must differ to be great.
What greatness is expressed by him who shares the common fate,
and follows all the rest?
A Note On The Marital Arts:
"When a wife feels unhappy and the husband shares her unhappiness,
her unhappiness will vanish;
But when a wife is angry, and the husband also gets into a rage,
her anger is multiplied."
To overcome pride, be humble;
To overcome hate, be loving;
To overcome selfishness, be generous;
To overcome excitement, be calm;
To overcome restlessness, meditate;
To overcome evil, be good.
Agitation within robs one of clarity of vision.
In this state, it is impossible to act with presence of mind.
The right thing is to keep still until inner balance is regained.
Drink, but do not make drunken scenes.
Enjoy the flesh, but do not destroy your health.
Work for money, but do not let it dull your conscience.
Get mad about things, but do not let it lead you beyond reason.
It is better to be moderately extreme than extremely moderate.
To those who seek understanding, no explanation is necessary;
To those who prefer not to understand, none will suffice.
Don't throw stones at your neighbors, if your own house is glass;
don't shake spears at your neighbors, if your own flesh is grass.
Doing an injury puts you below your enemy;
revenging an injury makes you but even with him;
forgiving one sets you above him.
The heart of the fool is in his mouth;
the mouth of the wise in in his heart.
Be like the sun, and what is within you will warm the earth.
Be like a brook, which deaf, yet sings its song for all to hear.
Empty yourself, that you may be filled.
The value of victory or defeat lies in what one does with either.
The purpose of discipline is to live more fully, not less.
Begin with a wrong heart, there is little hope for a right end.
Is it not wiser to seek a man's love, than his quick defeat?
The only effective answer to hatred is love.
Better to be upright in poverty than depraved in abundance.
Seek not every quality in one individual.
Do not forget little kindnesses; do not remember little faults.
Where there is no fight, there is no blame.
"He who has conquered fear and doubt has conquered failure."
The truth will not be cheated.