“If you know how to make good use of the mud, you can grow beautiful lotuses,” wrote Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh while reflecting on the Buddha’s teaching. “If you know how to make good use of suffering, you can produce happiness.”
The mystery of life distresses and frightens us in many ways. Sometimes it comes as a formless phantom, and our soul trembles with the worst of fears — that of the monstrous incarnation of non-being. But we also know that anything and everything, depending on how we see it, is a marvel or a hindrance, an all or nothing, a path or an obstacle. To see something in constantly new ways is to renew and multiply it. This is what great sage Lao Tzu considers in one of the chapters of his timeless Tao Te Ching.
TAO TE CHING
by Lao Tzu
Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty
only because there is ugliness.
All can know good as good
only because there is evil.
Therefore having and not having arise together;
Difficult and easy complement each other;
Long and short contrast each other;
High and low rest upon each other;
Voice and sound harmonize each other;
Front and back follow each other.
Therefore the wise go about doing nothing, teaching no-talking.
The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease,
Creating, yet not possessing,
Working, yet not taking credit.
Work is done, then forgotten.
Therefore it lasts forever.
Complement the Tao Te Ching with Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching on the delicate interplay of suffering and happiness and how to manifest beautiful lotuses out of the mud of life.