instilling the stillness

Chuang Tzu said, “A man does not seek to see himself in running water, but in still water. For only what is itself still can instill stillness into others.”

This can be generalized, I think, to other virtues. I started to write about this, but realized it had already been written:

Martin Luther King, Jr said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

River 3

The light and the love are multi-faceted.

Kindness increases kindness; indifference cannot do that.
Peacefulness increases peace; belligerence cannot do that.

If you want to bring stillness and serenity, then you cannot be part of the cacophony.

river ripple

It can be the most difficult thing to do, to avoid surfing the cresting wave that tries to carry everything along with it. Yet finding the internal calm when all else seems agitated is the most important time to do so. If intention falls apart with every excited moment, then how strong was the implementation?

Like a muscle, it takes practice. I practice, and I keep practicing. Every time the wave carries me along, I hope it took a little more force to budge me from whatever inner oasis I’ve cultivated. That’s really the best any of us can do.

Simplistically, it’s like math. When the Number 100 wants to divide itself, moving itself more and more into the negative, what does adding more negative values do? To counteract the trend, be a function for the positive, or at least try to stay neutral…

And if you slip, if you get the wrong answer (and sometimes you will), be open to a new equation, a reset. Stillness is patient, and ready to be found when the waters settle.


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