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Sooner or later, we are bound to...

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:23pm

Sooner or later, we are bound to discover some things about ourselves that we don't like. But once we see they're there. we can decide what we want to do with them. Do we want to get rid of them completely, change them into other things, or use them in beneficial ways?

The last two approaches are often especially Useful, since they avoid head-on conflict, and therefore minimize struggle. Also, they allow those transformed characteristics to be added to the list of things we have that help us out.

In a similar manner, instead of struggling to erase what are referred to as negative emotions, we can learn to use them in positive ways. We could describe the principle like this: while pounding on the piano keys may produce noise, removing them doesn't exactly further the creation of music. The principles of Music and Living aren't all that different, we think.

"Wouldn't you say, Pooh?"

"Say what?" asked Pooh.

"Music and Living..."

"The same thing," said Pooh.

That's what we thought. So rather than work against ourselves, all we need to do in many cases is to point our weaknesses or unpleasant tendencies in a different direction than we have been.

The following incident recorded by the Taoist Liu An can serve to illustrate:

In the state of Ch'u, a housebreaker became a soldier under the General Tzu-fa, a man known for utilizing the abilities of others to a remarkable degree.

A short while later, Ch'u was attacked by the army of the state of Ch'i. Tzu-fa's men went out to counter the attack, but were driven back three times. The Ch'u strategists exhausted their minds while the enemy forces grew stronger.

At that point, the housebreaker stepped forward and asked for a chance to work for the defence of Ch'u. The General granted his request.

That night, the housebreaker sneaked into the Ch'i camp, entered the general's tent, and removed the curtains from the bed. Tzu-fa sent these back the next morning by special envoy, with a note which explained that they had been found by some men who were out gathering firewood.

The following evening, the housebreaker removed the Ch'i general's pillow. The next morning, it was returned with a message like the first.

On the third night, the housebreaker removed the general's hairpin. It was returned the next morning.

That day, the Ch'i general called his officers together. "One more night," he warned them, "and it will be my head!" The troops were ordered to break camp and return home.

There is no such thing as an ability that is too useless, too crooked, or too small. It only depends on what you do with it.

So quite often, the easiest way to get rid of a Minus is to change it into a Plus. Sometimes you will find that characteristics you try hard to eliminate eventually come back anyway. But, if you do the right things, they will come back in the right ways. And sometimes those very tendencies that you dislike the most can show up in the right way at the right time to save your life, somehow.

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