Moss-covered Monk

Moss-covered Monk

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Ghosts of Carrhae

"We must engage before they have a chance to resupply."

"If we wait, we will become all the more useless. If we can catch the camel train, there is a chance. We must take that chance."

Crassus was dumbstruck by the rapidly deteriorating battle. He did not wish to send his son on a suicide mission, but it was the only option left to him. Thousands of archers were busy refilling their quivers, fully in sight of the ravaged Roman army. Waiting for the Parthians to run out of arrows, the only solace in many a legionary's mind, evaporated in the brutal desert heat. Death would come without ever having a chance to cross blades with the enemy. No greater despair had overcome a legion since Hannibal marched out of the Alps.

"Publius. Take four cohorts with your Gallic horse and engage the enemy. Go quickly." Crassus gave the order despite misgivings that he may never see his son again. Publius did not contemplate failure in that brief moment before chase was given. He had seen the worst of Gaul and Germania; Parthia could not hold a candle to the giants of the North. Arrogance was a tradition in the family Crassus.

Surena saw the Roman square separate from his vantage point on a distant hill. His bodyguards, composed entirely of Cataphract horsemen, were as eager to close ranks as their Roman foes. Surena held his seasoned warriors back, knowing that certain victory would come as the Roman horsemen separated from their legionary escorts. Allowing Publius's horsemen to crest the hill adjacent to the camel train, Surena signaled his archers to engage the lead elements of the charging Romans. Shooting point-blank, the Parthians brought their firepower to bear on the unarmored Gauls. As arrow upon arrow struck home, Publius gradually lost the ability to close with the archers.

"Strike! What are you waiting for?" Publius cried out in pain as a shaft pierced his mail just below his navel.

"Sir. Our shields are stuck to our sides. We cannot lift our arms if we tried." His troops were not unwilling. The Parthians had simply rendered them unable to engage in battle. Surena saw the opportunity he had envisioned in his mind.

"Now is the time. Charge!" Surena's bodyguards, a thousand strong, surged down the slope towards the stranded Roman cavalry. Surrounded and under constant fire, Publius lost control over his forces and a rout quickly ensued. A lucky few escaped the Parthian cordon, but the vast majority had no means to flee. Publius fell beside his foreign comrades after finally realizing what failure in war truly entails.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Selfish Examination of a Philanthropist - (1)

"The cause came to me. I was just in the right place at the right time." Her lips curled ever so slightly into a smirk, revealing the tips of her perfectly-capped teeth. One of her incisors, dyed crimson by inadvertent application of lip gloss, drew my attention away. I considered alerting her to the error, but she is quickly drawn into another conversation.

She's someone else's problem now.

Awkward moments have dominated our relationship since I was hired. Walking in the door, I felt extremely confident. Interviews had always been my strong point, as the chance to make idle conversation usually breaks the ice and establishes an easy rapport. Once I saw the secretary, a young woman no more than a few years older than myself, I felt reassured that my youth would not prove a hindrance. When she called my name, I passed through the glass doors and took my seat. The woman behind the mahogany desk did not acknowledge my presence. Instead, her attention remained steadily focused upon the smartphone in her hands.

"Damn phone! How the hell do I check my mail on this?" She said. The secretary, hearing the loud complaints, returned to the room and showed the steps for opening the e-mail program. Sighing constantly through the explanation, the older woman in the business suit muttered something that sounded like thank you before shoving the phone into one of the desk drawers. The secretary nodded and left without another word, shutting the door behind her. I sensed a general annoyance in the air, as if my presence was just another hassle for the deeply stressed and distressed executive.

"How can I help you?" She asked. Her confusion had seemed to cascade from struggles with technology. Lost within her own mind, the woman did not seem the least bit of aware of our scheduled interview.

"I am here for the managerial position as we discussed on the phone yesterday. You are set to open in two weeks, are you not?" I tried to keep my voice level, but a twinge of anger crept in as I asked the question.

The lobby I passed through on my way to her office had yet to be finished; the floors remained covered in dirt and the walls were in serious need of patching. Based on my estimation, it would take a few months to bring the location up to par for an inspection. Yet, the grand opening was scheduled for the end of the next week. The impossibility of the proposal did not seem to sink in for the woman seated across the overly-cluttered table.

"Ah. Good to meet you. I am Maxine, and this is my baby," She pointed to a plaque on the wall signifying the groundbreaking five years previously, "and you are..."

She doesn't even remember.

"I am Aron. Do you not..."

"Oh, Aron, of course. I am horrible with names. Please forgive me."

"Not a problem, we all have that issue sometimes. May I ask how things are going so far?"

"There is still quite a ways to go, but I feel confident we can turn things around by the grand opening. Next week, it will have been a half century since the March, the Dream, and the Speech. We cannot let such an opportunity slip through our grasp."

"I agree completely. We need to bring this history to the forefront today more than ever. Too many people have ceased to struggle on behalf of their fellow man for the equality of all. I hope that I can help contribute to solving this problem, rather than perpetuating it like so many others."

"That is most admirable. Can you tell me a little more about yourself?"

As I go over my background, it becomes obvious that Maxine had not gone to the trouble of looking over my resume in the least bit. She mistakenly thought we had gone to the same school, despite living in different states and possessing different majors. When her assumptions did not come into direct conflict with the truth, I let the point fall so as to not appear contradictory.

"Fascinating. We would love to use you."

No contract was offered. No terms were signed. A handshake and a see you tomorrow were all that I had as I left through the same glass doors I had just recently entered. The secretary was no where to be seen. The computer was still on, a half-played game of Solitaire left on in the background. The eerie silence was soon broken by a string of expletives heard through the door.

"Damnit. Jesus Christ, how do you unlock this fucking thing!"

I let myself out and left her to deal with the pressing problem.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ghosts of Carrhae

Journal of Gaius Marius

We have entered a campaign based on faulty intelligence. Based on this, we have underestimated our enemy. Our expectations are no longer in line with reality. While we may outnumber our enemies, we are far from supplies, surrounded by hostile forces, and battle will only come when the enemy wishes it. There is no hope for us, but this message may live on. I am sorry, Nireva, for this life I have thrown away.

***

A constant arrow barrage began as the long, thin tendril of horsemen approached the right square. The Romans maintained a shield wall, but the arrows arrived with such velocity that the meager protection only slowed the arrows. Barbed and razor sharp, each arrow which did not wound became an impediment. Those which did strike home into flesh were impossible to remove. Any man who attempted to dislodge the arrowhead tore muscle and tissue apart in the process. Many desperate men died of blood loss due to foolish triage attempts. Marius had no way to help his men. All he could do was survive.

"They will run out soon. Hold firm men!" Marius yelled. No answer followed the centurion's rally call; morale was precipitously low. The cries of the wounded filled the silence.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ghosts of Carrhae

Marcus Crassus assembled the legions for battle late in the afternoon. Having spent much of the day in pursuit of the enemy, the men have consumed nearly all available water but remain parched. The effect of the march upon their constitution was dramatic considering their overall level of fitness was exemplary. The desert into which they marched did not resemble the land upon which they were raised, and their excess gear placed additional stress upon the fresh legions. The breaking point would soon be reached. Crassus picked a battle with a foe which could not be won over; in the barren land of blowing sand, the legions would soon succumb.

Marius saw the situation more realistically than his commander. Each hour that passed in pursuit of the Parthians was sapping the strength of the legion, while the enemy remained free to relax in relative comfort. Able to ride comfortably, acclimated to the weather, the Parthians did not place stress upon themselves. When the time for battle came, only one force would be rested. They could attack when they were ready, while the legions were forced to pursue in formation. Any fool could have seen the folly of pursuit, against a vastly more mobile force over hostile terrain, but Crassus did not listen to better judgement. His mind remained preoccupied with the glorious triumph to come.

"The fool sees exactly, and only, what he wishes to see."

Nothing more could be done. Nothing but march on and hope for a chance to turn a hopeless situation around. Marius shouted for order, but his words fell on deaf ears. The legion could not maintain discipline, as each man's dehydration, exhaustion, and eventual collapse drained their combined resources. Only through order could victory be salvaged, while chaos provides the seed for every defeat.

"Testudo." The legion formed up, squares slowly coalescing as shouts, slaps, and shoves brought the tired men into proper place. Set apart from one another by a narrow lane, the four blocks of infantry surrounded the cavalry wing and Crassus' bodyguards.

The supremely defensive formation had been chosen to nullify the Parthian advantage in ranged arms, as each square maintained their shields to protect from arrows shot in any direction. At first, Crassus appeared to have a grasp for strategy, choosing to protect his small mounted force in the middle of his supposedly impervious infantry blocks. Marius saw where his commander's strategy made sense, but he also recognized the dreadful efficiency at work in the Parthian strategy.

They will wait for us to tire. When we begin to rest upon our shields, they will rudely wake us up. While we thirst, they have replenishment. If we falter, they will fall upon us. They can achieve victory without bow, lance, or sword; the sun is our enemy now as well. How can we hope to win?

Treasonous thoughts are best left in one's own head, Marius reasoned. He could have gone up the chain of command, imploring Crassus to find a better location to mount a defense, where the elements were not against them and terrain could be used to break up the enemy's mounted force. However astute such advice may have been, Marius could not leave his post. His place was with his men.

"Keep those shields high. They will test us soon enough." Marius yelled. The first volley fell soon. The half-hearted attack caused a few casualties, but it failed to disturb the unity of the roman formation. The scouting force, no more than a few dozen in total, made a large circle around the force before returning to camp. The Parthians did not appear in a hurry to force battle, allowing the constant threat of danger to wear upon the legions.

Relying upon lies instead of intelligence, Crassus took six legions into the desert for the decisive battle. When that battle finally began, any hope of victory had long since vanished. He could have ordered a desperate charge, but the Parthians could have simply retreated further into the desert. Retreat seemed to be the only sound strategy left to the Romans, but even that possibility was removed when the native guide fled the Roman camp shortly before nightfall. The man was soon witnessed heading towards the Parthian lines. His duty done, the guide collected his reward and began the trek back to Syria. No one would survive to spoil his secret; the army of Marcus Crassus would have simply disappeared into the desert sand.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Daily Musing - Imprisonment - 徒刑 - Túxíng

Our lives
encapsulated
within subjective stasis-
seeing out,
but not always within,
we poke and prod
the boundary between-
to make sure,
we are
alive?

Surrounded by reflections of our identities, we think of ourselves constantly, but little of Tao. These mirrors reassure, but our cares narrow to simple survival and physical gratification. When will we see that we have surrounded ourselves with with all these objects merely to maintain our illusions about the world?

We do not see the world as it truly is.

Ignoring the dilemma existence presents, we preen and prepare our appearance for maximum attractiveness. We are vain idiots living within mirrored caskets. We only see our own reflection, in every surface we come upon. On these blank slates, we implant our own illusions. Boxing ourselves in, the area we see grows smaller and smaller. Self-absorbed to the point of over-sensitivity, we develop spiked barbs on our exterior selves. Others may see the danger and avoid contact all together. We are in love with ourselves, but selfish love and the selfless version have little in common. All the time this is happening, our coffin closes in more and more.

Some people escape these traps we set for ourselves. They may move on, but some of these successful few still drag the coffin along for the ride. They claim to have conquered the enemy, but have yet to discard the corpse. Even dead illusions are still baggage. Those who drag theirs along are little better than those still trapped. Move on, continue on the path; what is most important lies ahead.

 

Ghosts of Carrhae

Journal of Gaius Marius Africanus - Centurion  -- Legion of Marcus Crassus

We left Antioch in good spirits. Upon reaching the border of the Armenians, our morale remains but our endurance is beginning to falter. The sun has taken quite a toll upon the men. We are overjoyed by the opportunity to rest and recover. I have to warn the young and inexperienced men against drinking too quickly, as too much water can kill a man who has gone too long without. I must give thanks to Jupiter, as we have only lost a handful on the march thus far. That cannot continue much longer.

Our great general is arrogant to a fault. He believes our enemy to be weak and womanly, possessing an all-too-feminine manner as a result of their Persian ancestors. His cavalier attitude towards our enemy is a great mistake, I fear. The locals speak of the Empire to the east with great fear and awe; they do not appear as confident in this endeavor as the other legions. They will be pulled along regardless of their wishes, as our great general lines their pockets very well to keep lips sealed.

Onward we must march. The Parthian expedition is nothing more than a means of building a hero. Our great general has nothing else to stake his reputation upon. The true great one, Magnus Pompeii, stole away the last triumph. Crassus cannot allow another repeat of the Spartacus affair, for a slight breeze can easily shift the sands of fate. All the money in the world lies at the disposal of this one man, and yet, he seeks out death with singular purpose. Why? His martial prowess is untested; he cannot allow himself to be bested. For this, we all must follow along, blindly obedient to the point of insanity. Could there be anything worse? Give me Caesar and the hordes of Gauls over this hellish desert, any day.

I have done a most foolish thing by deciding to join this campaign. I have abandoned my dear Nirena, leaving her without any company, save than the coin of Crassus. The cold feeling of gold cannot replace our warm embrace, but I went ahead with these plans without any thought of consequence to her. She has often said that wealth is of little importance in my company. She prefers the simple to the extravagant, and loves me with her whole heart. What do I do with her love? I return it to her, unopened, unappreciated. For acting in such a manner, I deserve to lose her heart to another, but she is foolish as well. She fell for the most oblivious man in the whole of the empire.

I would give anything to turn back from here and find my way to Antioch. No amount of gold is worth certain death in the desert. A dead man has no means to spend a fortune.

Sob Stories and Pity Ploys - All / I / Need (Ch II)

All I need is a moment.

It starts so simply. She does not dwell on the eerie feeling in her gut, and with time, it passes. A smile provides reassurance, so long as she focuses on my teeth and not my eyes. Seeing her guard relax, I take my time to build upon the trust she offers willingly. With her suspicion subdued, I begin to plan for my departure. Once the right conditions are met, a storm will pass through and carry me away. Whatever is left behind is for her to sort through.

***

Is this too good to be true?

At first, absolute bliss. Artificially concentrated affection floods in. Each expression is formulated towards maximum potency, engaging her brain's reward center in a unceasing cycle of craving and gratification. Sincerity is assumed; the right words are said and the pins fall into place. A loose structure of trust is built upon the foundation, brick by brick. A home-made meal and compliments easily exceed lowered expectations. A wall obscuring the truth is build so gradually that it remains unobtrusive. Her trust allows the viewing window to close ever more, until she satisfies herself with the sliver of light left over. That is all she needs.

Any horizon is preferable to perpetual darkness. By magnifying all available light, it is possible to induce brilliance.


Light begins its retreat; the solstice is reached after a week. Everything looks the same, but she feels the pull back. She does not know why, and refuses to ask. No hints lie in plain sight, and she does not pry the door open. My secrets remain hidden, and she is content with simple company. She has no desire to fill in the dots.

That's all I need for now. Everything else comes later.

Playing out on a screen only she can see, a bright future opens up to great possibility. She does not dwell on small details, leaving my past and personality as optional pieces in the puzzle of our soon-to-be life together. I can see the cog-work behind her eyes; mental construction of a dream-world. By providing much-needed distraction, her overly active imagination allows me ample time to collect data.

Pass, pins, and accounts. Arrangements for dispersal, accomplices set to assemble. Week three is all preparation. Painstaking attention is paid to public persona; a relationship must be assumed on first glance. The schedules of neighbors are taken into account. Less mess leads to more success.

Week four begins within the eye of the storm. The maelstrom lies just out of view, beyond the swirling winds of delusion. She sees nothing but the sweet smile I wear on her behalf. Her desperate daydreams provide insulation from the impending onslaught, delaying her eventual awareness and saving her from the worrisome anxiety. The rain finally arrives on the last Wednesday of the month. She searches for her umbrella. The object is no where to be found.

"I can drop you off."

"And pick me up?"

Smile. Laugh. Reassurance.

The final piece of the puzzle falls into place. She dashes for the revolving door in a haphazard attempt to dodge the deluge. Her ill-fitting summer dress does not survive unscathed. Half-soaked, she stops in the doorway to blow a kiss. I snatch it from the air before pulling away from the curb. I discard Bill, dispense of any last minute business, and disappear into the pouring rain. Sold for parts for a new start, I only take what I need. In certain cases, that means everything.

All I need is a moment.
May I have a moment
 of your time?
Trust me.
It will be
sublime.

You may not know the cost to come. I always knew, but now Emily does as well.

Sakura - Chapter III

"I gave him the chance to walk away..."

Wiping the blood away, I slide the blade back into the sheath and wait for a response. The young man at my feet takes one last breath before his chest falls still. His companion, a frail old man finally moves. Ever so slowly, he begins to shake his head, but his blank expression betrays no other emotion.

"Tss-. That boy was useful...if a bit dense. Now he's..." The old man does not make eye contact directly, but I can feel his analyzing gaze despite his attempt to appear ignorant of my presence. The fact that I just dispatched his only bodyguard seems to be of no immediate concern. His feigned apathy fades. His ragged laugh cracks the newly-formed ice and soothes the brewing hostility in the air.

"Where the hell did you come from, and why did you see fit to end the life of the stupid boy at your feet?"

"He attacked me, I just reacted. It is his own damn fault for blindly charging into a fight for which he was unprepared."

"That would be my fault, as his master. Is this what you are implying?"

"Nothing of the sort. His ignorance is too deeply seeded to attribute to your tutelage. His condition was irreversible; a curse of birth."

"How do you know that? You never shared a word with the stupid boy."

"My body language was clear. Was it not? Did I not give off the impression that I was not seeking a challenge?"

"The way you are dressed...you are hiding...from something, or someone. Your mysterious appearance does nothing but attract the very attention you seek to avoid. Dressed in these dark clothes, your face covered, and armed to the teeth. You almost look like a bandit. If you've seen one, you've seen them all. No one would even suspect you are just a girl. That is, until you opened your mouth."

"I am not hiding. These clothes simply provide the protection I am seeking in these treacherous mountain paths.. They were a gift from an unfortunate bandit who tried to assault me on my way across the border. His aim was not quite as good as mine, and now he is missing an eye to go along with these clothes. I left him his life, but your friend  today was not so lucky. He ran himself through; all I did was hold the blade."

"Who taught you to wield weapons with such proficiency?"

"My father's retainer, Hiro-"

"Aha! I knew that I have seen those eyes before. You are the headstrong offspring of that firebrand Sanetaka - may his soul find rest. He never could quite could get along with the snake Yoshitoyo. Something always seemed off about their relationship. Bonds of blood are not always a strong as one may think."

"Master Wakabe, I must humbly apologize for disturbing your peace this evening. Hiro sent me to seek you out. He said that he has taught me all that he could, but that his training would be insufficient to accomplish the task I have set for myself. Will you take me on as a student? I have a small amount of gold to offer. Otherwise, I can only give myself. However long I must serve, I am prepared."

"Well, this is not what I expected. I thought I might have a fight on my hands, but now you turn the tables on me and offer yourself. You should know that I only kept that boy around for menial tasks and grunt work. I fear my teaching ability has suffered in the years since I have known your father. I would do you far more harm than good. Please not take this the wrong way, but I must decline your offer. Girls are far too complicated, too difficult..."

"More difficult than finding another stupid peasant to do the dirty work? You can always change your mind and send me away. Just give me a chance to prove my worth."

"You do not realize what you seek. The road ahead is even more dangerous than the one from which you have come. There is no going back."

"I know this already. I am prepared for the consequences, whatever they may be."

"We shall see. Grab the body. We have wasted too much time as it is."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Delayed Daily Musing - May 19th, 2013 - Stress - 應力 - Yìnglì

Stress - 應力 - Yìnglì

What is the source?
Others demands,
or your own desires?
A lack of rest,
too much responsibility,
or just restless?
When you close your eyes,
what first leaps out
 from the darkness?


Sometimes responsibility becomes so great that it is difficult to control mental equilibrium. Attention is scattered, frustration rears up, and tremendous sorrow results soon after. Your insides ache, yet you cannot eat. You lie in bed for hours but get little sleep. Quarrels with others constantly arise despite trying to close yourself off.

An old sage may glibly dismiss all of this as humanity's folly. They are undoubtedly right, but the lofty sage provides little guidance to those of us lost in the dirt.  We are scrounging for survival while they rest on some pristine white cloud. Many other people face these same pressures, at this very same moment. Even if we find a way out of this particular problem, we cannot forsake society once and for all.

When under stress, awareness of Tao is extremely difficult, if not impossible. If you are constantly fighting on the battlefield, or in the office, or at home, or in your mind, you will never be one with Tao. If you involve yourself in this type of life, then you must face these problems bravely...until you can no longer and must renounce it.

Every moment is a choice. You may seek to drown yourself in a pool of self-loathing, or you can climb from the muck and begin the slow process of cleansing your self. The best advice is remembering that stress is not absolute reality.

Delayed Daily Musing - May 18th, 2013 - Spider - 蜘蛛 - Zhīzhū

Spider - 蜘蛛 - Zhīzhū

Centered mind,
eight legs radiate out.
Daily devotion to crafting
a net with which to sift
Tao. 



A sage once said that the spider was the most perfect creature of Tao. Its body is composed of an elegant expression of one mind: to spin beautiful threads upon which its eight legs could perfectly traverse. The spider follows Tao by sensing the currents of life. Its mind determines the designs and gives directions to the body. The net is set in the most advantageous position, and then left alone. The spider does not interfere with the trap once it is set. It simply creates a pattern, waits, and Tao brings it sustenance. Whatever finds its way into the net, it accepts. What does not become ensnared, it ignores.

Once it has established itself, the spider does not desire to expand unnaturally. It does not encroach on the territory of rivals, it does not seek adventure, it builds no ramparts for defense, it enslaves no other than the prey who find their way into the net. Morality and intellect mean nothing to the spider. It is simply a spider, and is content being just that.



 

Delayed Daily Musing - May 17th, 2013 - Prophets - 先知 - Xiānzhī

Prophets - 先知 - Xiānzhī

A prophet peddles secrets,
infused with mysterious magic.
The sage, out on a stroll,
attracts little attention,
as he deals only in the ordinary.
Which is the true Tao?
That which is sold,
or given?



Prophets are a special category. These men and women were respected masters of meditation, philosophy, medicine, numerology, martial arts, science, literature, history, music, painting, poetry, and scripture. They accomplished that which is extraordinary. The questions they asked and answers they passed down are highly valuable. The secret knowledge they took with them to the grave is likely immense. Such a formidable set of skills combined with intense dedication is quite rare.

They were great men and women. Do not forget, however, that they were just that...men and women. Like you, they struggled. Life was not as simple as stories make it seem.

Those who follow Tao strive towards self-perfection, but are wary when the word prophet arises to designate who they are. The role of prophet is limited. Relying on others to designate you as a prophet is nearly as disastrous as issuing the proclamation yourself. Considering yourself to be a prophet brings with it the temptation for self-importance. How can this mesh with the ultimate aim of transcending identity? Those who call themselves prophets (or even masters) maximize their identity.

It is far better not to be considered a prophet, to eschew that divine responsibility. Do not allow yourself to be tempted down the path of limitation. Be obscure. Let others consider your ideas stupid. Having someone refer to you by a title diminishes the connection. Do not introduce needless interference. When witnessing the greatest wonder of life, the last thing a true master would do is stand in front of the light.
 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Delayed Daily Musings - May 16th, 2013 - Labels - 標籤 - Biāoqiān

Labels - 標籤 - Biāoqiān

Whatever you do,
do not call me
a follower of Tao.


Do not put into words which should remain silent. Following the path is an intensely personal endeavor which should continually be refreshed. Spend each moment of your life in the present, picking up on the Universe's pulse. You should ride the current, without seeking to control the shifting Tao. Experience every thing. Once you have lived like this, you will want nothing more than to be one with the void - a perfect mirror to reflect the myriad of nuances which life presents.

By placing labels upon yourself, you separate from Tao. As soon as you designate race, gender, name, or fellowship as a requirement for oneness, you give rise to inexorable conflict. By claiming constant contact with Tao, you stand invariably in contrast with True Tao.

This is why those who truly follow Tao never seek to identify themselves as such. They do not care for labels which others bestow. All people have equal access to Tao. Those who choose to utilize this conduit desire no recognition.


Reject
labels
identities
conforimity
convention
definition
names.

  

Delayed Daily Musing - May 15th, 2013 - Order - 秩序 - Zhìxù

Order - 秩序 - Zhìxù

A life is built
brick by brick.
When you finally reach the end,
it is possible to find the path of truth,
stretching back to your first moment.
Those who have lived a life of fantasy
will only find shifting sand beneath their feet.



What is good today is based upon what was good yesterday. Certain principles are not valued the same by all people, but their intrinsic worth is unchanged. This is why we should be continually attentive to our actions and their consequences.
The first step is living a frugal life. Recycle, do not simply consume. Forge a closer relationship with your food. Do not rely on others to make your dinner edible; simple recipes will suffice. Do not waste water. Do not spend money frivolously. Apply these same principles to your quest for spirituality.

Do not fritter away your energy on amusements. Rather, concentrate on the efforts most fundamentally important to you. Do not randomly gather information; rather, consciously categorize and compile the data into a comprehensive whole. Do not carelessly tell lies, or you will find yourself divided from truth. You cannot live an authentic life on charisma alone.

Whether your current status in life is magnificent or wretched, what matters is how you order the little details that add up each day. Organize the parts, compose them into an attractive scene, and find pleasure in everyday life. Only then will you find meaning in this world.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Delayed Daily Musing - May 14th, 2013 - Perfection - 完美 - Wánměi

Perfection - 完美 - Wánměi

The young hero descends the mountain road,
radiating power with every step.
An old man refuses to clear the path;
the hero cannot ignore the slight.
One tussle brings an end 
to a life lived arrogantly
in pursuit of
perfection.

There are always people in the world to learn from if you hope to better yourself. Learn to recognize elders, not simply based on age, but by wisdom. Respect them, and learn to respect yourself. Know that you will not be great right away. Seek to live a long, rich life full of experience. To perfect one's self is difficult, but not impossible. To forgo perfection for wisdom, much rarer than the first alone.
 

Delayed Daily Musing - May 13th, 2013 - Redemption - 贖回 - Shú huí

Redemption - 贖回 - Shú huí

Every night-
meditate.
Every morning-
cleanse.
Still, uncovering flaws,
struggling to keep
(s)in balance.

Those who seek to improve themselves on a daily basis still possess many faults. Eliminating one, they find another shortcoming soon enough. Freeing themselves from one situation, they are soon entangled in another conflict. They may cry:

Why is it so hard to find liberation?

They never stop to think about the source of their difficulties. Their own mind holds them back.

We are blessed with intelligence and ambition, but these two traits give rise to intense desires. We want things. We devise strategies to acquire what we want. Whether we are thinking about food, sex, or societal approval, we all hunger in some way for satisfaction. Once we have desire, we begin to objectify our desires. Money, sex, fame, infamy; all results from the over-grasping mind.Anger, frustration, and disappointment are all too often associated with one's failure to meet the demands of the self. Even if we get what we want, there is always room to desire more...

This grasping never ends.

Meditation can help temper desire, but it cannot eliminate it. Therefore, when in the midst of meditation, one must be entirely sincere when declaring that redemption will not come quickly or easily. The follower of Tao knows how to eliminate some desires, accept most personal shortcomings, and work towards a patient co-existence with the mind's hunger towards outward satisfaction. Tame the beast inside, ignorance will do no good.