Carefree in Minimalist’s Life

“The tailor bird builds her nest in deep woods,
she uses no more than one branch.”
Chuang Tzu


“The mole drinks off the river,
it can only fill one belly.”
Chuang Tzu


Live with less,
then you can live with loss.

Autumn.jpg Wang Shu
Take a light walk leisurely in autumn,
looking for what?
Wild winds blow in its own nature
with many wonder words.
Keep your heart carefree
to discover true meaning.
Love beyond material things,
then you’ll know the minimalist’s life.

Lone Boat.jpgWang Shu

Lone Boat
Everyone engages
in social life with passion.
Why not aspire
to seize gallantly
a lone boat,
reflect in leisure,
the deep green waters.

treesWang Shu

Red vs Green
If the red hot dusty world
can be less than the greenery,
that is happiness and harmony
for the universe.
But people all love
the red hot habit reaction,
they have become more and more
fanatic in rallying,
shouting “Communist Red”
and “Nationalist Red”.
Why not have fresh breeze
gently blows
and everywhere is luxuriant growth
dyed in vivid green.

Twilight.jpg Wang Shu
Worldly Status

Luck, whether chill or fervor,
rests in Heaven’s hands.
Wealth is transient and
not worth suffering for.
It does not matter who is poor
and despised in worldly status,
all end in a cup of dust.

Wang Shu
(national artist of Austria, also taught Chinese philosophy in Germany)
Wang Shu is a dear friend who inspired me to embark on the long journey to study Taoist philosophy of Lao Tzu and then Chuang Tzu. Hope his art and poetry will facilitate your appreciation for Chuang Tzu’s teachings.His poems are all in Chinese, some in German.

(To facilitate understanding of the western readers, I have taken liberty to excerpt from the poem“Slimming” and changed the title to “Lone Boat” as well as using “Communist Red”instead of “Orient Red” (a song of Mao’s Red China) and “National Red” instead of “Red all around the ground” (The highly  controversial national flag of Republic of China as the National Party is crumbling to pieces with pro-Taiwan- independence in power.”)


Concept Maps

Fast Mind and Sit Forget

As in Buddhism, the mind is crucial in daily practice with life challenges. Unlike Buddhist meditation with specific instructions in sitting, Chuang Tzu’s writings describe “sit and forget” as not clinging to physical form and removing wits in the mind. Connect with free flowing energy of oneness in the world. This is the void or empty mind waiting for things to come. Stop listening to the ear or mind to find what is in accord with our preconceived opinions or ideas but listen with energy.

Forget form, emotions, self and others, then integrity develops and Tao is attained. We are consumed by emotions when we think of “I, me, mine” or our ego, the body, any material form or comparing others with ourselves.

According to Chuang Tzu, supreme integrity is no self, name and merit or self interests for gain. The same words are found in Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. When people forget each other and focus on abiding in Tao, there would not be any conflicts.

Along with “sit and forget” or “mind fast” unique to Chuang Tzu, in his writings he also coins other terms referring to the state of mind, namely: “clear as morning”, “independent insights” and “peace amidst chaos” or stillness in motion. When our mind is open and void with nothing, it has clarity and can see things on its own without being influenced by anything else. Then the mind becomes independent, unwavering and free. This is what Buddhists strive to achieve with long hours of sitting meditation.

Chuang Tzu

Chuang Tzu in a boat under trees

Genius Mind in Ancient China

“Chuang Tzu is the greatest and most brilliant poet among Chinese thinkers so far known.” Herman Hesse.
Most Westerners have heard of Lao Tzu and Tao, and Tao Te Ching is probably one of the most read Classics both in East and West. Whether Lao Tzu actually wrote Tao Te Ching himself is still a myth. There is no verifiable record on Lao Tzu, it is believed that he probably lived around 3rd to 6th century BCE. There are few historical details on Chuang Tzu’s life, but a brief biography is documented. Most would consider him a follower of Lao Tzu and he lived after Confucius (551-479 BCE). He is as important as Lao Tzu in terms of his influence on Chinese thoughts.

One of the most intriguing, humorous and enjoyable personalities in the entire history of Chinese philosophy and literature, Chuang Tzu presents in his writings philosophy for individuals and emphasizes the need for individual freedom and transcendence from worldly concerns. He advocates “Free from the World”, but man must first of all discard baggage of conventional values before he can be free.

Employing rhetoric to awaken readers to essential meaninglessness of conventional values, he uses short narratives that start out sounding rational and end up reducing language to gibberish like the Zen Koan to alert the mind into awareness of a truth outside ordinary logic or pseudo logical discussions.

He lived in fourth century BCE (369-286 BCE) during Warring States Period (403-221 BCE) when nations were split up into a number of autonomous states that were constantly at war with one another. In this golden age of Chinese philosophy a hundred schools of thoughts arose to envision a better social order. Continue reading