The Dipper Mother, Qing Dynasty
Bamboo dipper, granite basin.
Crust of ice over inky reservoir.
Moon shimmers in the dipper
Until fullness drains away.
Some people are like dippers. No matter what they try to gather up, it ends up flowing out again. For such people it is exceedingly difficult to accumulate anything in life.
If you are like the dipper, that is all the more reason to concentrate the resources that you have. Poverty of any kind need not be a deterrent if you know how to utilize the wealth you possess. You must embrace your fate, work with it, and take advantage of it.
Ultimately, we cannot truly grasp anything permanently in life. We are born naked, we die naked, and in point of fact we live naked. What we take to us — our clothes, our wealth, our relationships — are all external to us. They are easily taken away from us by bruising fate.
We try to internalize our experiences and our understanding. Even that can be taken away by stress, senility, poor memory, disorganized thinking, drugs, or shock. Truly, we are all dippers. The little that life offers us dribbles away.
Perhaps even the poorest of situations is rich, because all the futility of life leads us to embrace Tao. After all, it is bigger than all infinities and more subtle than the slightest wisp. To feel it requires great strength. To sense it requires a dragonfly’s delicacy. When you tire of trying to hold on to life, you will find the means to enter Tao.
Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao
“Hide your body in the Big Dipper” — Zen Proverb
I used to accumulate things, now I seem to be in the process of getting rid of a lot of them. Most of that resulted from the hassles of having to clean all the accumulated crap out of my mom’s house after she died. There were years and years of letters to go through, stacks of papers, lots of clothing, and all the accumulated things stashed in the attic from so many years in the same house. I saved a few things, dishes and pictures mostly, but most of it nobody really wanted to take.
We all have our stashes of treasures, but they mean little to others when we are gone, really. There isn’t much point to accumulating a lot of stuff that someone else will simply have to sort through later on. It’s not a good chore to leave your loved ones.
I’ve already told my kids when I get to that age I’ll go rent a small furnished apartment somewhere. My goals is to be healthy enough to spend a lot of time traveling. Well, after I tire of the golden retriever ranch, of course! I still don’t really know if my desire to have a whole ranch and raise golden retrievers as service dogs and to give away is just a pipe dream or not.
And speaking of giving away, if anyone wants this copy of the 365 Tao I’ve been using this last year, please let me know. I would be more than happy to send it to you, or trade for another book you are ready to part with. Just email me at donna at woodka dot com, or comment here and we can email to exchange addresses. I would love to know this slightly bent and much loved book is going to a good home! It’s been an inspiring way to get me to journal this year. And I thank all who read here for their presence, comments, and thoughts as they share my space. I hope some of what has flowed out from my dipper of thoughts has been useful to you along your path. Namaste.