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Monday, May 29, 2006

Doing Nothing vs Doing for Nothing

This afternoon I noticed that the yucca hammock was gone, only my canvas hammock was hanging, and then a bit later when Bro. Juniper was strolling near the vegetable garden, I asked about the whereabouts of Gordon Hu, and Bro. Juniper related this to me. First I should note that Bro. Juniper is a very accomplished musician, anything with strings, he can make music with, and as always on Sundays after the noon time meal, Bro. Juniper gathers many of the brothers together in the chapel for his sing along, his attempt to keep many of us in the present, when in fact some of the elder of the brothers seem to think the latest of vocals are Gregorian chants. So, usually with guitar, Bro. Juniper attempts to stir up things a bit with some modern hymns (circa 1800-1900), or sometimes even his own compositions. Now back to the garden, Bro. Juniper said that Gordon Hu attended yesterday's sing along, at first as an observer, then soon he joined in the singing, and as Bro. Juniper put it, showed some chops, particularly with "Pass it On" when all the other voices fell silent when Gordon sang the last stanza: "I wish for you, my friend, this happiness that I've found; you can depend on him, it matters not where you're bound. I'll shout it from the mountain top; I want my world to know; the Lord of love has come to me, I want to pass it on." Well, I was dumbstruck, for I had missed the sing along, normally I am there, but yesterday I went to the monastery library, and as always, got caught up in a new book that just arrived, Joshua Greene's "Here Comes The Sun" -- actually I just scanned through it, but hope to find the time to read it soon, a most interesting combinations, a Jew writing about George Harrison's spiritual quest. Anyway, Bro. Juniper was very excited about the transformation taking place with Gordon Hu in so short a time, and further, the reason for his disappearance is that he had to take care of some business in Barstow, and promised Bro. Juniper that he would return within a week. Well, part of the transformation, as Bro. Juniper see it, is that Gordon Hu has never experienced living one's faith with song, and he discussed this with Bro. Juniper, for belting out in song one's spirituality was foreign to Gordon Hu, for his path had always been to either ponder the unknown, or to meditate upon it. I now recall my short discussion with Gordon Hu where he shared with me some thoughts, one that still resonates with me is how he explained that the Taoists teach the theory of "doing nothing" whereas the Confucianists teach that of "doing for nothing." He pointed out that in Confucianism, one cannot do nothing, because for every person there is something which he ought to do, and further, he does it "for nothing" because the value of doing what one ought to do lies in the doing itself, and not in the external result. After that said, I asked Gordon Hu if perhaps my time in the hammock was Taoist in nature, of which he agreed, and confessed that at times Taoism does have great appeal.

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