Crystal Clear Waters

This year, I gifted myself a copy of Meditations from the Mat to give me food for thought each morning.  Each entry begins with a quote from someone, followed by a reflection on that quote.  A particular quote has stuck with me now for several days:

Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?  Can you remain unmoving till right action arises by itself?

~Lao-Tzu 1

As I prepare for this transition I am nearly resolved to make, I have had a great deal of difficulty sitting down for my daily meditation practice.  I find all sorts of reasons why I don’t have time, or am not in the mood, and, being human, I allow myself these excuses.  The truth is, meditation – for all it’s stillness – creates motion for me, and right now I do not feel that I can handle any more movement than I am already experiencing.  In other words, I’m scared of what else will come of it.

But also, as I prepare for this transition, I have been examining my motives, my resolve, and trying to be certain that this choice isn’t driven by some stubbornness that I am willfully ignoring.

So, this particular quote re-seated me on my cushion, with the temporary, meta intention of understanding my intention, of feeling certainty that this action is indeed right.  Within 3 sessions, I had a clarity that can sustain me, and I know I can go back for more if (when) I feel the need.

The idea of right action arising by itself is enticing, and confusing, because certainly (this type of) action requires insight, followed by planning and then actual action.  On reflection, I was confused about whether this came of itself or by my hand because of the thought, the planning and the actual actions that are leading to the action’s manifestation have not arisen by themselves.  But the right action – the what, the insight, the intuition, the knowing – did arise by itself.  I’m not even sure I can tell you how I came to it.  I know I finally felt it after being discontent in my career field for months (maybe years), making a job change that gave me opportunity for greater insight, and recently making a commitment to actually act on my intuition.  My mud has settled, and for a little while, at least, my water is clear, as is my path.


The full quote, from day 87 of Meditations from the Mat, is chapter 15 from the Tao Te Ching:

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.  Their wisdom was unfathomable.   There is no way to describe it; all we can describe is their appearance.  They were careful as someone crossing an iced-over stream.  Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.  Courteous as a guest.  Fluid as melting ice. Shapeable as a block of wood. Receptive as a valley.  Clear as a glass of water.  Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?  Can you remain unmoving till right action arises by itself?  The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.  Not seeking, not expecting, she is present and can welcome all things.

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