Here’s a nice bit of, what I think is very old, calligraphy hanging up in the middle of one of the most important halls of the Forbidden city. Wu Wei (translated as ‘Doing Nothing’ on the plaque outside.
Reading from right to left the first character is Wu which is the same character of my name – Mu which means…empty, immaculate, no and nothing! The second character of my name – go means work, karma/action. So the calligraphy is close to Mugo in meaning which makes this image rather special for me.
Doing nothing, an under rated activity, can be ‘doing’ a great deal. And doing nothing can be entirely the wrong thing to do! All worth sitting with.
Thanks to the very long-time reader of Jade for this photograph, snapped in China just the other day.
The hen can hatch her eggs
because her heart
is always listening.
From The Secret of the Golden Flower
A Taoist meditation text.
The other day I went for a long walk with some of the monastic guests staying here. Our route took us through a farm yard. A hen and a clutch of fluff-ball day-old, or so, chicks were scuttling for safety. I was bemused at how many of them there were and also that they came in two colour ways. Black and white ones.
Thanks to Jade in the US for finding the quote I was asking about in my last post. BTW I’d not recommend reading the book I’ve quoted from. It’s somewhat esoteric.
“The tall trees of Britain
We worshipped and were wise,
But you shall raid the whole land through
And never a tree shall talk to you,
Though every leaf is a tongue taught true
And the forest is full of eyes.
“On one round hill to the seaward
The trees grow tall and grey
And the trees talk together
When all men are away.
“O’er a few round hills forgotten
The trees grow tall in rings,
And the trees talk together
Of many pagan things.
“Yet I could lie and listen
With a cross upon my clay,
And hear unhurt for ever
What the trees of Britain say.”
From ‘The Ballad Of The White Horse’ by G. K. Chesterton:
And from Mugo
Did I ever mention
shaking with mirth
in the snow?
And how I
But who to tell?
Thanks to Mark for pointing out the poem. Wonderful. And. Does anybody know the reference to the metaphor for meditation? Of a hen sitting on her eggs listening to them hatching? Send me an email via the contact form if you know. Please.
The only EP (extended play vinyl record) I ever owned had, on the A side, Lee Marvin singing I Was Born a Wand’rin’ Star, from the film Paint Your Wagon. And on the B side Clint Eastwood ‘singing’ I Talk to the Trees and he went on to (have to say) groan the following words But they don’t listen to me!
Ever thought, been upset about, got really angry about, feeling like, somebody isn’t listening to you? Never mind about talking to the trees, your cat or your plants which I suspect ‘hear’ our words, spoken or unspoken, very well indeed. The felt sense of being heard is heart-rending, when it is not there and most heartening when it is. Enough said!
While I have been thinking about listening and speaking the Clint Eastwood piece has been playing in my brain. Now I’ve share it, it has gone! As if it were that easy to let go of ones persistent thoughts, feelings, emotions etc. etc. etc. Anyway here is a quote for today from Krishnamurti who was very influential in my spiritual growth in my teens and early twenties.
So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.
Have you ever watched a Heron? Listening? Fishing? This beauty was snapped wading in the Lancaster Canal last Wednesday. It’s the quality of listening, of being physically still, of being intent that never fails to catch my attention. Herons are masters of their fishing craft. And so elegant too.
Here at Throssel for the next ten days or so there is a coming together of monastics of the religious order of which I am a part. Listening; embracing the hearts and minds of those who are here, knowing directly the unifying quality of meditation practice (sitting and moving about too) and the diversity of how practice is given expression. Each in our various individual ways. I guess this blog is one way of giving expression to, connecting with, the hearts and minds of those who read here.
I’ll attempt to post on the theme of listening, and speaking.