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What's Wrong

Mystery, Tao Te Ching, and Sweetwater

Oh wordless well of wisdom,

Let us drink and fill our reserves.

We are thirsty beyond our own knowing.

We seek to satisfy our desires,

In blood, in lust, in ephemeral sense pleasures.

Parched and desiccated,

Tears choked by grief unable to flow.

There is a mystery at the heart of existence,

Open and unconditioned by time,

Out of which all things come,

Into which all things return.

This is the axis upon which the whole cosmos turns.

Our lives -


Life itself,

Revolves around the unknowable.

Whatever appears within the field of our own knowing,

Experiencing, Imagining, Dreaming,

Even the fabric of our material existence,

Is utterly dependent and united with mystery itself.

We spend so much of our time,

Fleeting, sweet and sour,

As though we have solved that mystery.

We forge ahead with our agendas,

Our politics, our busy-ness and business,

Forgetting completely that the answer that would satisfy

All cravings and desires

Is not in anything we do, make, say, or think.

Neither is it in any one place, time, or person.

The faithful say, "It is nearer to us than our own breath."

All our empires,

Our towering institutions of developing and learning,

Our industrial determination,

To bend and shape the world to a vision

That promotes some while burdening and breaking others,

That lifts up the vibrancy of some and devours others,

A puissant demonstration of how much

We forget the mystery of our own being.

If we could see,

Our eyes watery,

Well nourished by the well of infinite stillness and wisdom,

Tearfully moved by grief

Our wounds bound together

We might live in understanding and knowing,

Knowing we know and understand nothing.

The Tao Te Ching says:

"Those who stand on tiptoe

don't stand firm.

Those who rush ahead

don't go far.

Those who try to shine

dim their own light.

Those who define themselves

can't know who they really are.

Those who have power over others

can't empower themselves.

Those who cling to their work

will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,

just do your job, then let go."

There is a power in "I don't know" that gives us permission to explore, to be curious, and to practice both compassion and humility. In the modern context of constant comparison, competition, and virtue signaling, we must be willing to remember that no one has anything "figured out" which would make them immune from the human experience. There is an unfolding that takes place in all expressions of nature, including ourselves, that is open-ended. If we arrive at conclusions about ourselves, our world, or our life, we might take a note from Sweetwater and ask, "What's Wrong?"


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