‘Sometimes in life, there’s no problem and sometimes in life, there is no solution.
In this space – between these apparent poles – life flows.’
― Rasheed Ogunlaru
There is an ancient painting of three men standing around a vat of vinegar. Each man has dipped his finger into the vat and has tasted it.
These three men represent the three teachings of China and the vinegar represents the Essence of Life.
The three Masters are K’ung Fu-tse (Confucius), Buddha, and Lao-Tzu, author of Taoism. Each man’s facial expression shows an individual reaction to the vinegar.
To K’ung Fu-tse, life seemed rather difficult and sour. He believed there needed to be strict, complex rituals and control at certain times of each day, for life to work and flow. He would often say, if the mat on the floor was not straight, he would not sit on it.
To Buddha, the second figure in the painting, life on earth was bitter, filled with attachments and desires that led to suffering. In order to find peace, the Buddhists considered it necessary to transcend the daily attachments of the world, which often caused suffering, if they were to reach Nirvana.
To Lao-Tzu, who is the only one smiling, he said there was a natural harmony and flow in life at all times and this existed between heaven and earth from the very beginning. He believed this could be found by anyone at any time. He said that this natural balance and harmony is only compromised and complicated when we impose strict rules, resistance, or force from the outside.
‘The Taoists believe that life itself when understood and utilized for what it is, is sweet.’
What’s your reaction to life?
The Tao of Pooh – A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard