Most mystical philosophers have a way of being unpronounced in their wisdom. I was always fascinated with stories of sages who would perform great acts of compassion and asked for nothing in return. It always seemed to be the highest form of wisdom anyone could enact in their life. This was especially apparent in Zen or Taoist literature, that spoke of having a type of “aloofness” towards the world. Staying centered in some form of semblance— wherein you know it doesn’t matter if you are receiving fantastic praise or egregious insults.
This makes sense on a fundamental metaphysical level. As in reality, we are not all inherently individuals— divided and alone among the myriad forms of matter. Instead, we remain as one mind, connected as a source of All That Is. In this way, what matters who is doing great deeds? And who cares which individual is relaying the wisdom? It is all our wisdom, channeled as All.
It is likened to the idea of praising the hands for satisfying your hunger by picking up the food. What about the mouth that chewed the food? And the stomach that digested the food? In this way, praise can be evenly given to everyone involved in our process on Earth. When a poet writes their poetry on a computer, who are we to thank? The engineers that created their computer? The electrical company for providing the electricity for the computer? The poet’s seventh grade teacher that introduced them to books that would inspire their poetry? The bird that sung the song which spurred up the words in their mind? Or do we just assume that the poet did it all alone, with no help from anything outside their own will to write poetry?
Of course, as the myriad forms are one, so too, the one becomes the myriad forms. We are still simultaneously individuals that can only endeavor towards such a consistent holistic mindset. I would always rather thank the poet, instead. Because still, there is something unique that can be said about the individual’s will to creativity.
Though it must be noted, that this mindset can often become insecure and unstable. Allowing the individual to assume they are the sole benefactor in their achievements and in their failures. Which happens to be the way we usually interact with others in our society. It is an unusual psuedo-scale of where an individual stands in contribution to the collective. Jealousy can easily overtake us, and arrogance can become common practice. Even for those that consider themselves to be among the most conscious portion of the population.
In my life, I have attempted to make this leap in a number of ways. I often tell people to “steal my work” and “steal my wisdom”. Because, if it is wisdom that you can understand, that means it is your wisdom. Otherwise, you could not grasp it as wisdom to begin with. (I am not even the one who originally said this!)
Then, as it usually goes, life began to test my resolve in speaking such arcane statements. I started to believe that certain folks were copying my ideas without giving me any credit. Of course, this is exactly the kind of thing I keep telling people to do. However, when it came to the actual experience of it happening in my life, I was far less than centered in the purpose of those statements.
Jealousy did creep in. Jealousy mixed with doubt. I assumed that perhaps my insights were being leeched off by others and that, as a result, I would not be able to make a living doing the things I desired to do in life. It was quite a bind, I enforced upon myself. But, as some mystics have said before me, a fool who persists in their folly, soon becomes wise. It would be good for the reader to know, that most of my work is just stealing wisdom that was already known by the ancients, and streamlined by our modern visionaries. Most, but not all.
It is often the case that we must become nobody in order to balance ourselves within the world. We may be of assistance to others in a free and loving way, but receive nothing in return. Not even a single accolade. We may not, and never will be, known to the world within any prevalent capacity. Thus, we are left with a continual withdrawal from our lonely, divided self— for the greater holistic self within the All.
Taoist sage Chaung Tzu, sums up the experience with this poem:
Who can free himself from achievement
And from fame, descend and be lost
Amid the masses of men?
He will flow like Tao, unseen,
He will go about like Life itself
With no name and no home.
Simple is he, without distinction.
To all appearances he is a fool.
His steps leave no trace. He has no power.
He achieves nothing, has no reputation.
Since he judges no one
No one judges him.
Such is the perfect man:
His boat is empty.