Friday, June 12, 2009

When the Shoes Fit

For many years I struggled with internal conflicts.  Perhaps my melancholia has contributed to that constant sense of guilt and the quest for its resolution.  But often I was caught within the moral sense deep in my psyche and finding it difficult to get out, to look beyond, to transcend even meaningless guilts or conflicts.  Perhaps it is also from this very context that Chuang Tzu's nothingness becomes even more meaningful to me because through his paradoxical perspectives of life, I find a glimpse of freedom, a place and space for my soul's rest.  Here's one such an example.

"You forget your feet when the shoes are comfortable.  You forget your wait when the belt is comfortable.  Understanding forgets right and wrong when the mind is comfortable.  There is no change in what is inside, no following what is outside, when the adjustment to events is comfortable.  You begin with what is comfortable and never experience what is uncomfortable when you know the comfort of forgetting what is comfortable" (translated by Watson).  

I think often we start with what we ought to be or socialized to think how life is to be lived.  Perhaps it is better that we start from where we are.  What fits for us.  Starting from what fits lead us to do what is best without the constant nagging temptation toward right and wrong dichotomy.  


  1. Perhaps an aspect of spiritual maturity is being willing and brave enough to think outside of the parameters that we were brought up to believe. Tzu's work seesm to challenge the reader to question his or her beliefs in a new way.

    In order to truely understand what we believe in, we need to be willing to investigate the beliefs of others. This investigation can serve as a way to either further strengthen our beliefs or "tweak" them until they feel "just right."

  2. Julia Kroh: This is a very insightful thought about our absence of thought given towards that which is "comfortable." Perhaps, the comfort is some sort of reflection of truth we feel when participating in morally "right" behaviors and the fact that we aren't constantly thinking about it implies that we were in some way intended by our Creator to do right. Maybe the discomfort we feel when participating in morally "wrong" behaviors is what nags at us towards modification. I agree with Tzu's writings that we need to expand and challenge our beliefs. I don't believe that we necessarily need to believe in all religious orientations or beliefs, but I do believe that we need to understand different schools of thought. Also, if one is firmly grounded in a certain orientation it is often contradictory to accepts other opposing beliefs as truth. Often, our beliefs are independent and in order for what we believe to be true, than other theories, especially within the realm of spirituality, must be false. I realize that this sounds "judgmental," even harsh, but within the discussion of religion and spirituality, all views cannot be true, for each one is fundamentally opposed and independent in it's logic to another. This being said, as a clinician I understand that religion and spirituality of all orientations can have a very beneficial role in an individual's life and it is our job as clinicians to promote that which is important to our patients, regardless of our individual belief systems.

    Julia Kroh

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