So ha-ha-ho-ha-ha

John Blofeld [tooltip content= “The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain, Red Pine, (Copper Canyon Press 2000)”] [source][/tooltip]

The Tao of the mountain poet

…for the Tao is most easily found when laughter comes spontaneously and one is comfortably realized. Strain, tension, solemnity will blind you to its lovely radiance.

As to the nature of the Tao sought by Cold Mountain and his fellows, probably each mountain man had his individual concept. The numberless shades of meaning of this word fall into two broad categories. In one sense, the Tao is the originator, container, substance, and goal of the universe- thus nothing lies apart from it. Shapeless, invisible, intangible, it is the creator, substance, and being of a myriad transient forms, of which you and I are two, Mount Kanchenjunga forms a third, the garden dung-heap a fourth, the moon a fifth, and so on. The Tao seeks no praise, no worship. The Tao is. In another sense, the Tao is the path one follows in order to be transfused by the inimitable perfection which realization of the goal bestows. Moreover, since there are many kinds of sentient beings at various levels of understanding, the Tao comprises different paths, some long, some short. All lead eventually to the goal.

What goal? Blissful consciousness of perfect identity with the sublime Tao. From this consciousness flows such harmony between reality (the Tao) and its transient manifestation (say, you or me) that henceforth one can act with pure spontaneity in dealing with all life’s exigencies, like a tree bending towards the sunlight. Fear and anxiety vanish; for, in an ultimate sense, nothing can ever go wrong. Light and dark, up and down, health and sickness, life and death are all part of the interplay of transient phenomena whereby the Tao manifests the Tao. Your birth added nothing to it. My death will take nothing from it. Nor, in fact, are birth and death valid concepts, except in a wholly relative sense; for, since every atom of my body, mind, personality, etc., is the Tao, nothing came into being at my birth, nothing will cease to be when I die. So ha-ha-ho-ha-ha! Having realized what I really am, I can face all that may come with laughing equanimity, never sure that a change for the so-called worse (including death, ha-ha-ha) will not turn out to be a change for the so-called better. If it does not turn out that way, that’s fine too, for a realized Taoist is too wise to take opposites such as better or worse at all seriously. I am soon to become an emperor-ha-ha-ha-ha! I am destined to be a lousy beggar – ha-ha-ha-ha! It’s all a game. Any part will suit me fine. You are going to give me a thirty-two course (plus side dishes) Chinese banquet? Thanks, I’ll enjoy that. We have only a bowl or two of inferior-quality boiled rice for dinner? That will go down very nicely. We have nothing on which to dine? Splendid, we shall have more time to sit outside and enjoy the moonlight, with music provided by the wind in the pines.