“I didn’t get specific lessons on how to live. I got stories.” – Deng Ming-Dao
The Wisdom of the Tao by Den Ming-Dao would make a lovely stocking stuffer. It’s the kind of book you might put in your car or purse and take out when you’re surprised with a longer-than-anticipated wait in line. The front and back covers fold to make an attached bookmark… which can be annoying in a longer book but are very much appreciated by me when it’s a shorter, smallish book like this one.
There are 144 short chapters on things like “The Usefulness of Being Useless” and “No Use Trying to Rule the World”. Throw in some history lessons about Emperor Yao and “The Yellow Emporer” and a chapter or two on “Death and Life” and you’ve got a very well-rounded book, indeed!
It should not surprise you that I resonate deeply with the concept of Taoism. One need only to go back through my blog posts to find my millions upon billions upon zillions of stories that add up to big and small life lessons. In fact, if I *ever* getting around to writing that self-help book, it will be set up very much like this one! Although, it will include photos. But I digress.
One chapter that especially caught my eye is called “Afraid of the World’s Collapse” and very well could have been written today. In fact, the book came out in 2018 … so… yeah … timely. But the story itself, like all our stories… are about the past.
In fact, follow me on a slight excursion down a bunny trail…
Are you like me? Did you read that sentence “… all our stories… are about the past” and think, “Surely, that’s not true!” and upon second thought realized that it IS true, unless you’re predicting the future, in which case – and this is a parallel bunny trail – you are using the past to predict the future.
Yikes, I got confuzzled there!
Point is… the past… as much as we try to move forward and even forget… it’s fruitless, really. We NEED to remember. To learn. Oh yeah, we’ll move forward either way… but talk about making the same mistakes over and over again. Oy!
But back to this chapter… and our world today. Do you worry? I DO! But you know, this book brought something **very important** to mind:
“If it happens, it will be the same for everyone alike.”
Now, this may seem so completely obvious that you wonder why I repeat it. Do you? Wonder, I mean.
Here’s my answer: Sometimes, it feels like “me and mine” are the only ones suffering. Yeah, I’m going there.
Life is hard… sometimes, it’s frightening.
Oh yes, there is good out there…. anyone who has read me knows I see it all around me.
But sometimes, it feels impossibly difficult. I can’t help those I love because I can’t even help myself.
This is such a season of the soul, if I may wax poetic.
During times like these, a little reminder here-and-there among the short stories in Ming-Dao’s lovely little book is welcome, indeed.
The human condition has always been – and will always be – shared. That’s something. It really is!