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The Woodcarver

10 Jan

In my spiritual reading, I came across a poem that the author uses.  It was used as an example of what he has done in a “circle of trust.”  It provides a third party from the facilitator and the members, so as to give them something to base conversation and relating too.  This is taken from the book called “A Hidden Wholeness,” by Parker J. Palmer.  The poem comes from the teachings of Chuang Tzu.

The Woodcarver

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand

Of precious wood.  When it was finished,

All who saw it were astounded.  They said it must be

The work of spirits.

The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:

“What is your secret?”

 

Khing replied: “I am only a workman:

I have no secret.  There is only this:

When I began to think about the work you commanded

I guarded my spirit, did not expend it

On trifles, that were not to the point.

I fasted in order to set

My heart at rest.

 

After three days fasting,

I had forgotten gain and success.

After five days

I had forgotten praise or criticism.

After seven days

I had forgotten my body

With all its limbs.

 

“By this time all thought of your Highness

And of the court had faded away.

All that might distract me from the work

Had vanished.

I was collected in the single thought

Of the bell stand.

 

“Then I went to the forest

To see the trees in their own natural state.

When the right tree appeared before my eyes,

The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.

All I had to do was to put forth my hand

And begin.

 

“If I had not met this particular tree

There would have been

No bell stand at all.

 

“What happened?

My own collected thought

Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;

From this live encounter came the work

Which you ascribe to the spirits.”

 

There is something about the devotion that the woodcarver puts into his work.  We need to let go of everything so that the work we do is not influenced by the external commands and is more responsive to the inner teacher.  The inner teacher is guided by the Spirit.  It allows us to live in closer conformity to our very own souls.  I want to take some more time to reflect on it.  Share your thoughts and let us have conversation!

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Posted by on January 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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