Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mumonkan, Koan 20: The Man of Great Strength

Shogen Osho asked, "Why is it that a man of great strength does not lift his legs?"And he also said, "It is not the tongue he speaks with."

The man of great strength does not lift his legs because he does not need to. My answer recalled to me some lines from a poem I wrote during my Pete Retreat several years ago (the poem - 'Siegecraft' - is posted here on Zen Throw Down).

For the art of siegecraft
is to be...
and watch the world
wrap around you,
wand to sword to scepter

A strong or wise man draws his power from inside himself, so there is no need to act (to 'lift your legs'). This does not mean you should be a non-entity who sits around and waits or expects all things to move as you wish or imagine. You let this power inside of you - your essence - speak for you, and I think the more right-minded you are the more you amplify this essence to the world around you. There is a sense of strength, conviction, or truth that comes from you. So you do not 'speak with your tongue' but with your very presence or existence...with what you are.

I can look back at certain points in my life where I was definitely in this mindset and, at those times, it felt as though people and events conformed to me the way water flows around a rock. It wasn't that I was controlling anything or dominating people around me, there was a feeling of the 'world wrapping around me' rather than me conforming or adapting to the world.

When I am in that mindset, I'm not fighting things around me, nor am I submitting to them. I just am. Things happen as a result of this steadfastness. Perhaps this is what the concept of non-contention in Taosim is all about?

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