Water and Dao of Effectiveness


water and tao

Dao focuses your attention on reality, rather than wishful thinking; making effectiveness maximization not a pipe dream. The approach would take some effort to get accustomed to. But it will prove its worth. To help you understand the approach, here is a story on water, which Laotzu likens it to Dao.

Once upon a time, there was a man who wanted to be successful in life. For that, he made his way to a temple on a mountain to seek advice from a wise monk.

The monk did not answer him directly. Instead, he asked, “What is the shape of water?”

“The shape of water … But water has no shape!” the man was perplexed,

The monk took out a cup, and filled it with water.

The man said, “I know it now! Water is in the shape of a cup!”

The monk decanted the water into a vase.

“Oh! Water is in the shape of a vase!” exclaimed the man. The monk shook his head, and poured the water to the sandy ground, where it disappeared into the sand in no time. The man pondered, and said. “I know it now. The water has no shape, and yet it can be in any shape.”

The monk nodded his head, and led him to a corner of the temple, pointing to a hole on the floor. “What do you see on the floor?” asked the monk.

“It is a hole, formed by drips from the roof,” said the man.

“If you want to be successful, be as pliable and yielding as water; so as to stay close to reality. If you want to be powerful, be as focused as water, it can penetrate a rock. This is Dao.”

Awestruck, the man thanked the monk. From then on, his life had never been the same again.

Water can stay close to reality, because it can be in any shape, and is willing to be anywhere, so that it can hear the vibration of reality. Water is strong, because it focuses, allowing it to destroy resistance of a rock through its persistence.

Like Laotzu says,

“The softest of all things, drives the hardest of all things.
The non-substance penetrates the non-crevice.
Hence, I know the value of action without striving.
Teaching of non-words,
Benefits of non-actions,
Rarely are they outstripped in the universal.” (43)

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