I’m always amazed by how great Chinese philosophers and artists can communicate profound ideas so simply. Nowadays, in an age where ‘generating content’ seems a misguided pre-occupation it’s great to read the words of our ancient ancestors who got straight to the point.
They thought long and hard about what they wanted to say
Because they had to scratch their words on bamboo or papyrus – no words were wasted.
So yesterday when I found myself using too many words to explain to a couple of patients the importance of following their hearts rather than their heads, I was chuffed to come across this passage from the writings of one of China’s greatest – Chuang Tzu.
The writings of Chaung Tzu are a foundation text for classical Chinese philosophy (and Chinese medicine).
Chuang Tzu loves a riddle, but like all riddles they lead us on a winding path to clarity and understanding:
The Emperor went wandering north of the Red Water, ascended the slopes of Kun’lun (mountains) and gazed south.
When he got home he discovered he had lost his Dark Pearl. He sent Knowledge to look for it, but Knowledge couldn’t find it. He sent the keen-eyed Li Chu to look for it, but Li-Chu couldn’t find it. He sent Wrangling Debate to look for it, but Wrangling Debate couldn’t find it. At last he tried employing Shapeless, and Shapeless found it.
The Emperor said, “How odd! – in the end it was Shapeless who was able to find it!” Chuang Tzu, Chapter 12.
So if you’re trying to find some lost treasure in life my advice
...is to eschew Knowledge, Keen-eyed Searching and Wrangling Debate and just sit and listen to the nameless, shapeless feelings inside which are your intuition. You’ll find it there.