Nowhere and Nothing
Benjamin Hoff

  

"Where are we going?", said Pooh hurrying after him and wondering whether it was to be an Explore or a What-shall-I-do-about-you-know-what.

"Nowhere," said Christopher Robin.

So they began going there, and after they had walked a little way, Christopher Robin said:  "What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?"

(And of course, what Pooh liked doing best was going to Christopher Robin's house and eating, but since we've already quoted that, we don't think we need to quote it again.)

"I like that too," said Christopher Robin, "but what I like doing best is Nothing."

"How do you do Nothing?" asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time.

"Well, it's what people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, What are you going to do, Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, Nothing, and then you go and do it."

"Oh, I see," said Pooh.

"This is a nothing sort of thing that we're doing now."

"Oh, I see," said Pooh again.

"It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.

Chuang-tse put it this way:

Consciousness wandered North to the land of Dark Waters and climbed the Unnoticeable Slope, where he met the Speechless Non-Doer.  "I have three questions for you," Consciousness said.  "First, what thoughts and efforts will lead us to understanding the Tao?  Second, where must we go and what must we do to find peace in the Tao?  Third, from what point must we start and which road must we follow in order to reach the Tao?  Speechless Non-Doer gave him no answer.

Consciousness traveled South to the land of the Bright Ocean and climbed the mountain of Certainty, where he met the Impulsive Speech-Maker.  He asked him the same three questions.  "Here are the answers," Impulsive Speech-Maker replied.  But as soon as he started to speak, he became confused and forgot what he was talking about.

Consciousness returned to the palace and asked the Yellow Emperor, who told him, "To have no thought and put forth no effort is the first step towards understanding the Tao.  To go nowhere and do nothing is the first step towards finding peace in the Tao.  To start from no point and follow no road is the first step towards reaching the Tao."

What Chuang-tse, Christopher Robin and Pooh are describing is the Great Secret, the key that unlocks the doors of wisdom, happiness and truth. What is that magic, mysterious something?  Nothing.  To the Taoist, Nothing is something, and Something-- at least the sort of thing that many consider to be important-- is really nothing at all.  Our explanation of this will attempt to give some sort of indication of what the Taoists call T'ai Hsu, the "Great Nothing".

We will begin with an illustration from the writing of Chuang-tse:

On his way back from the K'un-lun Mountains, the Yellow Emperor lost the dark pearl of Tao.  He sent Knowledge to find it, but Knowledge was unable to understand it.  He sent Distant Vision, but Distant Vision was unable to see it.  He sent Eloquence, but Eloquence was unable to describe it.
Finally, he sent Empty Mind, and Empty Mind came back with the pearl.

When Eeyore lost his tail, who found it for him?  Clever Rabbit?  No.  He was busy doing Clever Things.  Scholarly Owl?  No.  He didn't recognise it when he saw it.


   

Through brilliant and witty
dialogue with the beloved
Pooh-bear and his companions,
the author of this smash
bestseller explains with ease
and aplomb that rather than
being a distant and mysterious concept, Taoism is as near
and practical to us as our
morning breakfast bowl. Romp
through the enchanting world
of Winnie-the-Pooh while soaking
up invaluable lessons on
simplicity and natural living.

More on zen.

  
    

If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything;
it is open to everything.  In the beginner's mind there are
many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.

Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi

  


 
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