I am currently re-reading “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff. A delightful book where he reveals that one of the world’s great Taoist masters isn’t Chinese, just a calm reflective bear. A.A. Milne’s Winne-the-Pooh!
I was reading a selection Hoff chose from the writings of Taoist Chuang-tse (Huang-Tzu), disciple of the famous Lao-tzu, to illustrate how many people…“try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are.” Everything has its own place an function.
Hui-tse said to Chuang-tse, “I have a large tree which no carpenter can cut into lumber. Its branches and trunk are crooked and tough, covered with bumps and depressions. No builder would turn his head to look at it. Your teachings are the same – useless, without value. Therefore, no one pays attention to them.”
As you know, Chuang-tse replied, “A cat is very skilled at capturing its prey. Crouching low, it can leap in any direction, pursuing whatever it is after. But when its attention is focused on such things, it can be easily caught with a net. On the other hand, a huge yak is too easily caught. It stands like a stone, or a cloud in the sky. But for all its strength, it cannot catch a mouse.
You complain that your tree is not valuable as lumber. But you could make use of the shade it provides, rest under its sheltering branches, and stroll beneath it, admiring its character and appearance. Since it would not be endangered by an axe, what could threaten its existence? It is useless to you only because you want to make it into something else and do not use it in its proper way.”
I decided to share this passage. As I started to type, I was struggling with where I usually work. The setup was all wrong for what I was trying to do. It just wasn’t working. I found myself trying to contrive ways to “make it work,” but no matter how I moved things around, I just couldn’t “fit the square page into the round hole.” It took me a minute to “get it,” and I ended up moving my laptop to another place where I could work with ease. Things Are As They Are.