Dao/Tao

A Shaman Meets the Taoist Master

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A shaman with the insight of a god came from Chi to settle in Cheng; his name was Chi Hsien. He knew whether a man would live or die, survive or perish, be lucky or unlucky, die young or live out his span. He would predict the date to the year, the month, the week, the day, as though he were a God. Whenever the people of Cheng saw him, they all ran to escape him. But when Lieh-tzu saw him his heart was drunk, and he returned to tell his teacher Hu-tzu:

“Master, once I thought your Way was the utmost, but there is another which goes still farther.”

“I have taught you all that shows on the surface,” said Hu-tzu, “but you have not exhausted the substance: have you really found the Way? With a crowd of hens and no cock, can you expect any eggs? Trusting in your Way and matching yourself against the world, you are bound to reach too far. That is how you let the man succeed in reading your face. Try bringing him here, and make him take a look at me.”

Next day, Lieh-tzu brought him to see Hu-Tzu. Coming out, the shaman told Lieh-tzu:

” Alas! Your master is a dead man. There is no more vitality in him. He cannot last ten days. I saw a strange thing; I saw damp ash in him.”

Lieh-tzu went in, with the tears soaking the lapels of his coat, and told Hu-Tzu. Hu-tzu answered:

“I have just shown him the configuration of my earth. My breathing, like the life in a growing shoot, did not vibrate yet did not cease. He must have seen me as I am, when I check the incipient motions of the virtue within me. Try bringing him again.” 

Next day, Lieh-tzu brought him again to see Hu-Tzu. Coming out, the shaman told Lieh-tzu:

“It is lucky that your Master happened to meet me. He will recover. There are pale signs of life in him. I can see him check­ing the power in him.”

When Lieh-tzu entered and told him, Hu-tzu said:

“I have just shown him my soil fertilised by heaven. Nothing had entered my mind, either as name or as reality; but the incipient breath was coming up from my heels. This is what made him think I was checking the powers in me. He must have seen me as I am when the goodness in me is incipient. Bring him again.”

Next day he brought him again to see Hu-Tzu. Coming out, the shaman told Lieh-tzu:

“Your Master has not fasted, so I have nothing to go by. I can­not succeed in reading his face. Try when he has fasted. I will read his face again.”

When Lieh-tzu entered and told him, Hu-tzu said:

“I have just shown him the absolute emptiness in which there is no foreboding of anything. He must have seen me as I am when I’m even out the incipient motions of my breath. Whirlpools, still waters, currents, all hollow out deep pools; of the nine kinds of deep pool I have shown him three. Bring him again.”

Next day he brought him again to see Hu-Tzu. Before coming to a standstill the shaman fled in a panic.

“Run after him!” said Hu-tzu.

Lieh-tzu ran after him but could not catch up with him, and returned to inform Hu-tzu:

“He has vanished. We have lost him. I could not catch up with him.”

“I have just shown him,” said Hu-tzu, “myself before we first came out of our Ancestor.

With him I dissolved, and drifted winding in and out of things. Unknowing who and what we were. To him, it seemed we had floundered. It seemed that the waves had swept us away.

That is why he fled.”

 

Excerpt from The Book of Lieh-tzu.

©Excellence Reporter 2019 

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Categories: Dao/Tao, Parables, Shamanism

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