Water and Stillness
Go With the Flow
By: Cheng Tong - Jun 11, 2020
“Nothing in the world
Is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet, for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
Nothing can surpass it.
The soft overcomes the hard;
The gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
But few can put it into practice.”
Laozi, Dao de Qing, Chapter 78
“ . . . . but few can put it into practice.” Can you? Do you? If so, how?
The Dao de Qing is replete with the same message throughout all 81 chapters. Float in the currents of the Great Dao, and trust your raft will be brought ashore exactly where you need to be at each moment.
If we “become as children,” something both the Dao de Qing and the Bible urge, remaining soft and supple in all things, we are able to overcome anything. We find the patience to let our “mud” settle; we let go of our expectations and accept what is.
Certainly fancy words, lofty ideas, and viewed by so many as mere bullshit. Fight the good fight, carry on, lead with our swords – – this is what we are taught. And yet, the Master “ . . . doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present and can accept all things.” (Chapter 15)
First, start with yourself. What does this mean? Lighten up, take yourself off the hook. Forgive yourself. We’ve all mucked our lives up at some point, and I say let it go.
When you can do that, when you can forgive yourself, you are able to forgive others. The upset and anger, disappointment and discouragement you feel weighs you down, keeps you living in the past, and prevents you from being in the present.
Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. It is not for the sake of those we forgive; it is for our own sake. We take our anger and disappointment out of our backpack and toss it away. We stop carrying it with us, get unstuck from the past, and bring ourselves into the present.
Second, show kindness to all we meet. We are all connected, all climbing the same mountain, if you will. Everyone needs a hand at some point on the climb.
Don’t confuse kindness for niceness. Though. These are two different things. Those who would harm us need to be avoided; and, if that is not possible, we must protect ourselves in any way necessary.
It may seem paradoxical that we learn skills that help us to cultivate stillness at my Temple, while at the same time learning skills to inflict harm. Qigong, taiji and meditation are those skills we use to cultivate our stillness; gongfu, sword and stick are the latter skills.
Having learned these skills, and knowing what we are capable of, we nonetheless choose softness and yielding. We choose water. We choose forgiveness, and we choose kindness. We cultivate stillness.
It is not a coincidence that the first skill all students at my Temple learn is Water Taiji. It is the only Temple in China where this taiji is taught.
Soft always overcomes hard with time. This is the value of stillness.