Clay makes a pot.
Where the pot’s not
Is where it’s useful.
So the profit in what is
Is in the use of what isn’t.
(Book One, Tao Te Ching – trans. LeGuin)
I have a mantra that helps me on especially stressful days: “I’m a wave in the ocean.”
I visualize the undulation, hear the fiery rush, smell the earthy freshness, feel the cool spray. The experience works for me on many levels. I love water. It comforts me. It delights me. It instructs me.
As a wave in the ocean, I’m like all the others. Competitiveness dies. I’m not in control of what happens. Desire dies. I’m not alone. Fear dies.
Like the pot, where I am not is where I am most useful. Removing Self makes space. That is, where I am not — where I do not compete, desire, or fear — not-me can be.
Most of us live like spots of oil which water surrounds but never penetrates. Competition, anxiety, desire, ambition, and fear work as filters and obstruct our awareness of the reality around us.
As with oil and water, I cannot mix both Self and Dao.