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Taoism

The Need to Win

When an archer is shooting for nothing
He has all his skill.
If he shoots for a brass buckle
He is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind
Or sees two targets—
He is out of his mind!

HIs skill has not chanaged. But the prize
Divides him. He cares.
He thinks more of winning
Than of shooting—
And the need to win
Drains him of power.

—Chuang Tzu, translated by Thomas Merton

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The Butterfly

Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.

- Zhuangzi 

One thing that is certain, however, is this: the quote is always attributed to Zhaungzi and not to the butterfly.

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The Garden

a retelling of a Taoist parable

In a village two temples stood next to each other. One was a Buddhist temple with a garden. One of the priests was a master gardener who spent time every day tending the flowers, shrubs, and trees.

Next to the Buddhist temple was a smaller Taoist temple. Every day the aged Taoist master sat outside and watched the Buddhist priest care for the garden.

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Master Kung and the Kicking Horse

a retelling of a Taoist parable

In a village in ancient China there were two wide streets running parallel to each other, and a narrow but heavily-used alley between them.

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Who Knows?

A retelling of a Taoist parable

In a valley lived a farmer. He was not rich, but neither was he poor. He had food enough for his family. He had fields that yielded a decent harvest year after year. And he had a very fine work horse.

One morning the farmer discovered that his horse had run away during the night. His sympathetic neighbors said, "What bad luck!" But the farmer simply replied, "Good, bad, who knows how it will turn out in the end?"

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