Friday, May 23, 2008

The power of 'So what!'

You may have read the Tao Te Ching or another book about Taoism, non-action, non-desire and the like and wondered ‘yes, yes, this all sounds very well and good, perhaps for a monk living in ancient China. But how can I possibly apply it in my modern daily life?’ I know you may have thought this because I certainly have. And I am here to tell you of a book that will show you how.
The ‘Barefoot Doctor’s Guide to the Tao – A Spiritual Handbook for the Urban Warrior’ by Stephen Russell takes the precepts of Taoism and relates them to modern situations and emotions that everyone can identify with. And on top of this, he does so with a distinctive, humorous style that belies the profoundness of what he is telling you. In vain have I searched for a sequel to this book. But, in the end, no sequel is necessary.
Here is a powerful ‘urban warrior’ self-defence move against any disappointment attack. Trust me, it works.

So you’re disappointed. So what! Disappointment’s only disappointment. It will be transmuted into its opposite by the immutable law of yin and yang anyway.
So, so what! May sound impolite or downright compassionless, but really, so what.
The thing about “so what!” is that it’s got an edge, a small portion of anger released every time you say it. That’s its advantage over “never mind”, which is also good and valid, but only when you truly don’t mind. Most of the time, though, especially when the disappointment’s just recently dropped, you do mind. So with that faint hint of churlish delinquency, stand up, release that irritation and boldly proclaim, “So what!”
So when you experience frustration, disappointment and self-doubt, as your brilliantly conceived plans go astray and leave you stranded, try a “so what” session for yourself.

One by one, think of the things about your life that are pissing you off or causing you undue stress and drop a “so what”: ‘But I’ll lose my job – so what!; but Charlene/Charley will leave me – so what!; but I’ll die – so what!” That’s it, be brutal, gently brutal, until you’ve cleansed yourself of all attachments; and then you can sit down and call yourself the Buddha.

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond