31 May Happiness lessons from the Tao (No. 1)
From this week onwards I’m planning to share with you a few stories I’ve become interested in lately since I’ve been reading a few of the great Taoist writers. This is not to say that I or The Happiness Institute have now become Taoist but just, as I’ve always done, to encourage you to look for happiness and lessons on happiness anywhere and everywhere. I believe there are some fantastic messages in these stories and I hope you do to. Over the next few weeks I plan to share a few short anecdotes with you and then finish up with a short paragraph about how it might be relevant and/or applicable in our real lives. So read on and enjoy…
Hui-tse said to Chuang-tse, “I have a large tree which no carpenter can cut into lumber. Its branches and trunk are crooked and tough, covered with bumps and depressions. No builder would turn his head to look at it. Your teachings are the same _ã_ useless, without value. Therefore, no one pays attention to them.
_ã–As you know_ã, Chuang-tse replied, _ã–a cat is very skilled at capturing its prey. Crouching low, it can leap in any direction, pursing whatever it is after. But when its attention is focused on such things, it can be easily caught with a net. On the other hand, a huge yak is not easily caught or overcome. It stands like a stone, or a cloud in the sky. But for all its strength, it cannot catch a mouse.
_ã–You complain that your tree is not valuable as lumber. But you could make use of the shade it provides, rest under its sheltering branches, and stroll beneath it, admiring its character and appearance. Since it would not be endangered by an axe, what could threaten its existence? It is useless to you only because you want to make it into something else and do not use it in its proper way.
The message here, I think, is pretty obvious; do you live an authentic life, really being and believing in yourself? Or are you often/always tyring to be something else and not “use yourself” in your “proper way”? If the latter, then I humbly suggest you’ll struggle to find happiness. But if you want more happiness then take some time to think about who and what you really are, in your essence, and how you can live a life that’s consistent with this.