This week’s weekly insight is an ancient Chinese parable about the day of the great storm.
As the storm approached, the mighty oak tree said to the reed, "I am the mighty oak. My roots are deep, my branches are strong, and I am powerful beyond measure. I can resist any storm. I shall weather the wind no matter how great it becomes. I have seen many great winds in my long lifetime."
The oak tree then said to the reed with pity. "Where I am strong, you are weak. I will weather the storm, and the wind will destroy you."
The wind blew up, and the mighty oak resisted. The wind blew harder, and the oak felt its roots gripping deep in the earth confident of its great strength.
Throughout the storm, the reed bent with the wind. The cold, powerful air passed over the reed as it bowed down with the wind and it shimmered with the vibrations of the wind passing over it. It was as if the reed had become part of the wind.
Soon the storm became a typhoon, and then a great gust of wind raced across the land, driving the rain before it and destroying every structure in its path. The pressure of the typhoon grew, pushing on the mighty oak with a growing and irresistible force. Then with a crack like thunder, the storm uprooted the oak pulling its roots out of the ground along with tons of earth and smashing its branches as it toppled to the ground with a great crackling of broken branches.
In time, when the storm had passed, the reed dried out and straightened up. It was now bathed in sunlight from the gap in the forest canopy where the mighty oak once stood.
The forces of nature will always overcome any resistance in the end. Your mind is a force of nature. At some point in your life, you will encounter circumstances you can't overcome or resist.
You have to learn to go with the flow of life.
Wu Wei is a Chinese term for uniting with the forces of nature. Wu Wei is at the heart of the Eastern Wisdom traditions. Life can not be about overcoming force with force. If you believe you can force the universe, the universe will force you. So you need to learn to respond to the natural currents of your mind and flow with them rather than trying to swim against the tide.
Everybody seems to believe they can control their minds in the modern world. They believe that they can resist their mind and overcome it. That is the story of the mighty oak.
The story of the reed tells us that we need to become one with the wind. And with the force of nature, and with our minds.
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