Symphony for a seabird
   
     

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Contemplative Taoism/daoism

Taoism is about how we perceive the world around us and what we can learn from what we see.
It is not a religion nor a belief system.
This story/verse is from the The Way of Chuang Tzu (translated/interpreted by Thomas Merton).
These verses were designed to stimulate insights, considerations and encourage further contemplation.
The meaning will deepen as your capacity to understand grows:
 

You cannot put a big load in a small bag,
nor can you with a short rope,
draw water from a deep well.

Have you not heard how a bird
from the sea was blown inshore
and landed outside the capital of Lu?

The prince ordered a solemn reception,
offered wine to the seabird
in the Sacred precinct,
called for musicians to play
the compositions of Shun,
slaughtered cattle to nourish it.
Dazed with symphonies,
the unhappy seabird died of despair.

How should you treat a bird?
As yourself or as a bird?
Ought not a bird to nest in deep woodland
or fly over meadow and marsh?
Ought it not to swim on river and pond,
feed on eels and fish,
fly in formation with other waterfowl,
and rest in the reeds?

Bad enough for a seabird to be surrounded by men
and frightened by their voices!
That was not enough!
They killed it with music!

Water is for fish, and air for man.
Natures differ, and needs with them.


(Chuang Tzu)
 


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Page created 18 March 1995
Last updated 07 November 2018