|One day an invader country was about to conquer his neighboring country. The king of the peaceful country had a huge Buddha made of clay where everybody prays. The Buddha gave the king a dream to ask him to get ready and set up the defense. Booby traps were laid and when the enemy came, they were defeated. In honor of the Buddha, the king built a very beautiful temple for the Buddha. When the Buddha was being lifted, a crack appeared and it was apparent that something was shining from inside. When carefully checked, all of the Buddha was made of gold. The Buddha was transformed from clay into gold and the whole country rejoiced. Inside all of us, there is a Golden Buddha waiting to be discovered. It is the true self and Tao will lead us to restore it into Golden Buddha / Self.||
by Derek Lin
It was nearing dusk at a remote village in China. A traveler came along
paused at a house by the river to ask for directions. The man of the house
noted the hour was late and insisted that the traveler stay for the evening.
The traveler realized that the man practiced traditional hospitality and
accepted the generous offer with gratitude.
After dinner, the traveler sat with his host to talk and drink tea.
my curiosity," the traveler said, "but when I asked you for directions I
noticed you were just finishing your work for the day and putting away
your tools. What is your business, if I may ask?"
"Oh, certainly," the host replied. "My family specializes in cloth
We soak textiles in a special bleaching solution, then we take them into the
river and use the flowing current to wash away the solution. Old clothes
and bed sheets end up looking as good as new."
"That is fascinating," the traveler said. "It's a bit puzzling as well. We
the middle of winter right now and the weather is cold and dry. Aren't you
concerned that wading into the river day after day will cause your skin to
split into painful cracks, thus making it impossible for you to work?"
The cloth bleacher explained: "We are very fortunate in that we have this
aromatic ointment that protects us. We apply it in wintertime and it does
a great job in preventing the skin from getting too dry. It allows us to work
all year round."
The traveler was very impressed. "I have never heard of such a clever
How did you come by this aromatic ointment?"
"Oh, it's a secret formula passed down through the generations. No one
it, so it gives our business an edge over the competition."
The traveler was thoughtful for a while, and then he spoke up: "I have a
proposition for you. I am very interested in this secret formula, and I am
willing to pay one hundred gold pieces to buy it from you."
The cloth bleacher was amazed by this offer. Normally, it would take him
decades to save up that much money. He excused himself for a quick
conference with his family, and then came back to the traveler with a
condition: "Sir, I can only sell you the formula if you promise to never
give it or sell it to anyone else in the cloth bleaching business."
The traveler made a solemn oath to that effect, and the transaction took
place. With much ceremony, the money changed hands, the cloth bleacher
brought out the secret formula and made a careful copy.
The traveler resumed his journey the next day, and life returned to normal
for the cloth bleacher. He looked at the money and thought it had to be the
best deal he ever made.
The traveler went to the palace of King Wu and sought an audience with
His Highness. In the royal chambers, he presented the secret formula to
the king and explained its function.
King Wu did not understand and asked the traveler: "No doubt this ointment
can do what you say it does, but why would we find this to be of any interest?"
"Your Highness, is it not true that you are at war with your neighbor,
the state of Yue?"
"That is correct. They are our nemesis. One day we shall conquer them!"
"That day may be closer than you think, Your Highness. Tell me: why
do you not attack them now?"
"No one attacks during wintertime. Our two lands are separated by rivers,
so any attacks must be over water. In this weather, my soldiers will get
frostbite, skin cracking and … ah."
"Precisely, Your Highness. You now have a way of striking them exactly as
you would any other time of the year."
King Wu immediately ordered a large-scale production of the ointment based
on the secret formula. It took only a few weeks to get everything ready. Then,
he launched the first winter offensive ever. King Yue did not expect this at all
and thought King Wu must have gone mad.
Yue soldiers responded to the attack with a counterattack of their own.
armies met over the bordering river and a fierce battle ensued. The ointment
worked as expected and protected Wu soldiers, while Yue soldiers lacked this
protection and were fully exposed to the elements. After only a few days of
engagement, many Yue soldiers developed such painful cracks that they could
not even hold their weapons.
The people in the region were amazed. For as long as they could remember,
Wu and Yue had always been equally matched, neither able to gain an inch over
the other. Now, somehow King Wu found a way to completely decimate the Yue
army, bringing to an end generations of stalemate and unifying the two territories
under his rule.
In gratitude to the traveler who played such a pivotal role in his
victory, King Wu
granted him a large estate and made him a noble. As the traveler settled into the
privileged life of a lord, he reflected on the path that took him there. It all started
with the secret formula - plus not much more than a hundred gold pieces. It had
to be the best deal he ever made.
In this story by Chuang Tzu, the aromatic ointment represents the Tao. Just
the secret formula is passed down from generation to generation, so too are the
teachings of the Tao. Today, many people are still not aware of these teaching
despite their simplicity, elegance, and effectiveness. Therefore, a genuine tradition
of the Tao is still something of a well-kept secret in the modern world.
The ointment can be used to not only bleach cloth but also conquer a powerful
but no matter how you use it, it remains the same - its formula doesn't change. The
Tao is similar. There is more than one way to use it, but no matter how we use it, the
Tao remains constant. The crucial element that creates the difference is not the Tao
itself. It is you.
Some people regard the Tao as a philosophical pastime or an academic pursuit.
Approaching the Tao in such ways is similar to using the ointment for cloth bleaching.
While there is nothing wrong with this, Chuang Tzu makes it quite clear that there is
a lot more to the ointment than meets the eyes. Similarly, there is a lot more to the
Tao that may not be immediately apparent.
In the story, the cloth bleachers are satisfied with the ointment as it is.
It gives them
an advantage over their competitors, and that's all they want from it. It is the same
with the philosophers and scholars. They can derive satisfaction from using the Tao
as an intellectual pursuit, so they stop at that and look no further.
Such individuals focus on discussing and reading about the Tao. Some of them
regard themselves as experts. To them, the Tao is a hobby that gives them the
enjoyment of mental stimulation, Oriental mystique, and perhaps some knowledge
from time to time. Lacking any formal guidance, they think they really "get it" when
they are only touching the tip of the iceberg.
In reality, the true nature of the Tao goes far beyond the world of the
It is a way of life and a way of being. When we delve deeper into it, we will discover
the realm of transformation, where we apply the Tao in every aspect of life. This
practical application leads to a gradual, steady and profound change at the
In the story, the army that King Wu wields to overcome his longtime rival
this transformational power. This does not mean that we can use the Tao to dominate
others. Instead, Chuang Tzu is using the same metaphor that Lao Tzu uses many
times in the Tao Te Ching, where an advice for the king is in fact an instruction to
your true self. This makes sense because your true self wields absolute power over
your destiny just as the ancient kings of China wielded absolute power over their subjects.
This concept is something that has never made it past the language barrier
West. Perhaps this is because Tao teachings have largely been translated and
presented by those who are not aware of its deeper layers.
The King of Yue represents longstanding problems in your life that you have
been able to resolve. Such problems can be great or small, ranging from harmless
procrastination to severe substance abuse. They are the obstacles you have never
been able to get past no matter how hard you try.
Applying the ointment to the army represents the application of the Tao to
ointment must be used on every soldier. Similarly, the Tao must be applied every day
and in every aspect of life. This application must also be consistent and sustained over
a period of time, with willpower and discipline.
The overwhelming victory of King Wu represents the miraculous workings of the
The problems that you previously regarded as impossible suddenly fall by the wayside
when you apply the Tao. Issues you have never been able to resolve suddenly seem
easy. You triumph over your challenges because the Tao has transformed you into a
far more effective and powerful individual. The challenges haven't changed, but you have.
Becoming a noble represents the achievement of your goal in life. Having
power of the Tao to gain victory over stubborn problems, you can rightfully enjoy the
fruits of your labors. It is a reward you have earned.
As the traveler settles in to a life of luxury, the cloth bleacher continues
wading into the river each day to make a meager living. He may not be aware of the
dramatic changes that have taken place in the state of Yue, and he still cannot
envision leveraging the ointment for any purpose other than his own specific usage.
In just the same way, there is a gulf between those who play at being Tao
and those who rigorously apply the Tao to life. Modern-day "cloth bleachers" typically
feel that they don't have to do anything to advance their own understanding of the
Tao. They are secure in their superficial knowledge. Their lives remain stagnant, and
nothing changes for the better, while the true cultivators of the Tao continue growing,
learning, and living life as an exciting adventure.
One important lesson we can learn from this is that in order to achieve great
results, we must think differently and take action. Both ingredients are absolutely
essential. The traveler regarded the ointment from a new perspective, and then
took action on his insight. He invested a hundred gold pieces and then sought
audience with King Wu, after which the army of Wu went through weeks of
preparations that took considerable effort and planning. When the soldiers
went into battle, they did so with strategy, deployment, and fighting prowess.
All of this was necessary to transform the state of Yue into a province of Wu
and elevate the traveler from a commoner to nobility.
Chuang Tzu's message is clear: we won't succeed in tilling the field if all
is turn it over and over again in the mind. Work is a required element. It is not
optional. This may come as a surprise to those who, based on a common
misconception in the West, imagine that the Tao is all about being relaxed
and doing nothing. The truth is more complex and far more interesting.
Another thing we can learn from the story is that the Tao always works no
matter what. The ointment works for the soldiers just as well as it does for
the cloth bleachers. The Tao is like that. It embodies consistent natural laws
that yield predictable results, and it will function the same way for anyone.
It makes no difference to the Tao who you are. As long as you are willing to
leverage the ointment to the utmost - apply the Tao to your daily existence -
then you, too, can reap the abundant rewards.
The most exciting realization is that ultimately it's all up to you. The
is yours: bleach cloth or become nobility. You are the ruler of your own life
and you have the power to decide. You can dabble in the Tao, have fun with
it, and be satisfied at that level. Or, you can wield its transformational power
to resolve problems, overcome obstacles, and achieve your goals.
So... how will you use the Tao?