The Music of David Salminen

Posts tagged ‘The Way’

“fasting of the heart”

Yen Hui, said to be the favorite follower of Confucius, asked for advice from the old sage regarding a proposed journey to the state of Wei, where a certain Prince Hui was treating his country and the death of his people “with scant regard”. The young Yen Hui wanted to see if there was anything he could do to help out, and in fact he thought that in going to the state of Wei,  he was following previous counsels from Confucius about visiting “the state that is in real trouble.” But Confucius saw that Yen Hui was not yet ready to go on such a mission, and so he told his follower to “Go away and fast, then I will tell you what to do.” Yen Hui complained that because his family was poor, he had already been fasting, for months… and then Confucius countered with the observation that Yen Hui’s fasting was not the kind of fasting that was required for generating insight, and gave this marvelous description to Yen Hui, of something deeper, “Your mind must become one, do not try to understand with your ears but with your heart. Indeed, not with your heart but with your soul. Listening blocks the ears, set your heart on what is right, but let your soul be open to receive in true sincerity. The Way is found in emptiness. Emptiness is the fasting of the heart.” (this post is a summary of a much longer passage in the Martin Palmer/Elizabeth Breuilly translation of The Book of Chuang Tzu, published in 1996 by ARKANA – Penguin Books)

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