Reflections on Life: Following the Course of Nature in All Worldly Affairs

Guan Ming

PureInsight | February 10, 2008

[] The ancients
said: "Life and death are determined by fate; rank and riches are
decreed by Heaven." Therefore, regarding all worldly affairs, following
the course of nature is the best choice. People's worries come mostly
from their concern over losses and gains or resentment growing from
certain issues. People thus often lose the peace and serenity that they
were originally supposed to have in the process of emphasizing
themselves or intentionally seeking for something. To handle things
well, one does not need to do anything with intention and should deal
with worldly affairs with common sense and a calm mind, following the
course of nature.

There is a fable like this: A puppy kept turning around and around
chasing its own tail and, becoming exhausted, it finally stopped and
lay on the ground panting. A larger dog passed by and asked what had
happened. The puppy said: "A friend told me that if I could catch my
own tail, I would obtain happiness and joy forever. So, I was chasing
my tail and got really tired." The big dog sighed: "When I was young, I
also heard others say the same thing and I also got exhausted just as
you did. When I pursued happiness, it never came to me. But when I
stopped seeking it intentionally and followed the course of nature in
everything, I found that the happiness and joy followed me day and

It is said that when Yu Youren, a renowned calligrapher, visited a
primary school, a student innocently asked him while touching his long
beard: "Grandpa Yu, when you sleep at night, do you put your beard
inside the blanket or outside the blanket?" Yu Youren felt puzzled at
that moment and didn't know how to answer. When he went to bed that
night, he felt very uncomfortable no matter where he put his beard,
inside or outside of the blanket, and suffered over the problem the
whole night. But, he finally found the best answer: he did not need to
pay attention to the issue at all and should just follow the course of
nature which meant that sometimes the beard stayed inside while
sometimes it stayed outside.

There was another calligrapher who was invited to a temple to write a
calligraphy scroll. When he was writing, a student of his ground lots
of ink for him and at the same time offered many frank and
straightforward criticisms: "This is badly done!" Each time the
calligrapher finished one line, his student was not satisfied, thinking
that he had not demonstrated his true quality: "This one is even
worse!" Trying patiently, the calligrapher wrote a total of 84 lines,
yet still couldn't get his student's praise. Finally, when the student
went away to go to the restroom, he thought to himself: "this time I
can avoid his sharp eyes." So, he calmly and leisurely wrote another
line. When the student came back and saw his work, he said: "Ah, a

Happiness and joy are actually part of life, yet many people in the
world do not know how to enjoy them. A lot of people seek fame,
self-interest, status and material comfort daily. They are exhausted
but still cannot find true happiness and joy. They never imagined that
happiness and joy are not things one can get through intentional
pursuit and that the highest realm of humankind is to obtain without
pursuing. If one follows the course of nature and is content wherever
one may be, good luck and happiness will come along.

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