Friday, 12 October 2012

How Old Is Mindfulness?

This genial old cove is, allegedly, Lao Tzu, sage of ancient China, founder of Taoism and author of the Tao Te Ching.

My current meditation class leader teacher gave us a poem/passage last night:

Always We Hope

Always we hope
someone else has the answer,
some other place will be better,
some other time it will all turn out.

This is it.
No-one else has the answer.
No other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.

At the centre of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.

There is no need
to run outside
for better seeing,
nor peer from a window.

Rather abide at the centre of your being;
for the more you leave it, the less you learn.
Search your heart
and see:
the way to do
is to be.
             Lao Tzu 

OK modern common sense says there may well be a better place, depends where you live; other people may have an answer for us, none of us can know everything. But there is a valuable centre to this which is about not being distracted by procrastination and wishful thinking. I particularly like "it has already turned out," and "the way to do is to be." 

Living in the moment, in yourself, not searching for non-existent alternatives but accepting yourself where you are right here and now - mindfulness insights. From the sixth century BCE. Historians say Lao Tzu  may be a synthesis of several historical personages, or may not even have existed. I don't know if he really wrote this, and to me, it doesn't really matter. 

Maybe mindfulness hasn't got a date of birth. Insofar as Taoism exhibits mindfulness teachings and insights, maybe it doesn't have such a date either. Maybe mindfulness is a tendency, a mode of thought and being, that is there all the time and has been there since whenever. Waiting for us when we're ready to find it.

I certainly think that we trouble ourselves night and day by not abiding at the centre of our beings. That is, by not living in ourselves, here and now.  The way to do is to be - not the other way round. 


  1. I think this is an excellent poem, and a state of mind I'd love to achieve.

  2. This may sound like a cliche, Arkers, but I think it is already there for you. You are that state of mind; there is nothing to achieve in the effortful sense, just things to drop, and processes to still.

    And yet for some reason, it still takes hard work to be that state of mind.

    Thanks, as always, for coming by.