chapter 9: where is the stopping point?

by kye on June 27, 2010

A skilled archer knows when he’s pulled the bowstring back just enough, but not too much. He knows if he pulls it too far, he may injure himself or the bow–and the arrow will not fly as true. The practiced archer knows with ever greater precision where to stop, because he’s devoted to the art of archery.

Where is the stopping point, though? How does he find it?

–He discovers it via his interested care for the effect of his action. He practices a restraint that doesn’t feel restrained, but attuned.

Writing’s like that too. I’m attuned to what this chapter invited me to say, and sensing ‘it’, I remove any excess that isn’t it.

Now I feel the point approaching where I’ve said it.  It’s time to stop.

a bowl will spill

a blade won’t last

too much gold and jade
can’t be guarded

and worse,
you start defining yourself
in terms of an excess
that’s doomed to be lost

when it’s completed, stop!
that’s Heaven’s way

— Kye Nelson: translation and commentary on Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching

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This post was written as part of the tao together project.  Would you like to join us?

©2010 Kye Nelson

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