The ancient Chinese form of checkers was a wickedly complicated game. When two friends played, Chuang-tzu always won, because he had more than logic at his disposal. He could not only see straight ahead; he could see around corners. This gave him a distinct advantage.
Their dialogues were a form of checkers as well. Here the subject is suffering. Hui-tzu believes that anger, fear, and sadness are a necesary part of life, that they spring up out of nowhere, inevitable, uncaused. But every painful feeling is caused by a prior thought. We can’t understand the why of the thought’s arising, but we can learn the how of undoing it and, with it, our suffering. Then we don’t need to bother about the why.
The constant happiness that Chuang-tzu talks about may seem to be an ideal, but in fact he is the realist here. The only thing that can interrupt happiness is an untrue thought. It’s like a cloud hiding the sun. When we investigate it, it dissolves. Wisdom is the art of cloudlessness.
From “The Second Book of the Tao”, compiled and adapted from the Chuang-tzu and the Chung Yung, with commentaries by Stephen Mitchell
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