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07 December 2008 @ 11:00 am
Tao of the Day  
I cheat a lot when I post these.

I often pick excerpts and aphorisms that I've come to understand and respect, and even some I've incorporated into my life with some small success.

I often avoid the ones where I'm the kid at the candy counter: I've got my nose above the counter, I can tell there's something I want there, but I'm waiting to grow some more.

Here's one such. Discussion in the comments.

There are 5 things that may lead to the loss of one's original nature
First are the 5 colors which confuse the eye and make it less keen
Second are the 5 sounds which confuse the ear and make it less sharp
Third are the 5 odors which becloud the nose and assail the sinuses
Fourth are the 5 flavors which dull the mouth and make it insensitive
Fifth are the preferences and aversions which unsettle the mind and make one's nature flighty

- Chuang Tzu (trans. Mair)
Current Music: "To You Alone" - Beta Band
Kburgunder on December 7th, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC)
Third are the 5 odors which becloud the nose and assail the sinuses

Sometimes I think: the city. Its smells are so strong that it masks subtlety. When I leave the city and walk along waterfalls, rivers, among trees, my nose is a different friend and source of information to me.

Sometimes I think: perfume. So many of those smells really do assail my sinuses, if taken literally. And then not only can I not smell anything except this man or woman who's making me hold my breath on the bus, but I'm so focused on the experience that I stop seeing and hearing everything going on around me.

Sometimes I think: it's the smells I've taken for granted and pushed into my background, instead of remaining conscious of them. The smell of my friends, my cat, my shampoo, Elliott Bay wafting up from the west ... maybe the distraction is what I want so that I'm fully experiencing every moment.

I can feel the wisdom in this excerpt, but I think it's still beyond me at a pragmatic level.
Kburgunder on December 7th, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
Or hey, maybe one of the 5 odors is you personally wearing something that smells to override all of the external smells.

Those people wearing the intense perfumes are missing out.
Varnvarn_ix on December 7th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
I'd say the number five is arbitrary, like numbers often are in such constructs.

The idea is valid, though. Strong sensory inputs often impair the ability to recognize and appreciate subtlety.
Kburgunder on December 8th, 2008 12:18 am (UTC)
Ha! It never even occurred to me that someone might take the 5 literally. One of many reasons why I'm not so good at explaining my understanding of a philosophical passage like this.
To Mega Thereminrwx on December 7th, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
this appears to be a summary of a Buddhist sermon called the fire sermon, q.v.
Kburgunder on December 8th, 2008 12:25 am (UTC)
1. All the songs have been sung. Sing anyway.
2. What do you think about the posted passage, or the fire sermon?