Know the Moon

 Posted by on June 18, 2011
Jun 182011

By Mako Allen

Lao-tzu often said that words get in the way of understanding. While words are needed for communication, their use is problematic. Words separate you from the immediacy of the world around you. There’s a Japanese saying I’m fond of, “the finger which points to the moon is not the moon.”

Verse 10

Can you hold on to your ego

and still stay focused on Tao?

Can you relax your mind and body

and brace yourself for a new life?

Can you check yourself

and see past what’s in front of your eyes?

Can you be a leader

and not try to prove you’re in charge?

Can you deal with what’s happening

and let it happen?

Can you forget what you know

and understand what’s real?

Start a job and see it through.

Have things without holding on to them.

Do the job without expectation of reward.

Lead people without giving orders.

That’s the way you do it.

In this verse, Lao-tzu asks you to do seemingly impossible things. All the contradictory things he asks have something in common: duality. The particular duality in question distinguishes you, the reader of this column from every other thing, idea, person, or circumstance in the universe.

But thinking in a paradigm of duality is like being in a battle: you against… everything! It’s not really a battle you can ever win, either. Let’s look at all the different ways you can lose it.

You can concern yourself with your own accomplishments. You can focus on your own deficiencies, finding fault with what you’ve done before, or may yet do. You can work hard to convince others that your way of doing or understanding something is the right way, the only way to do it. You can expend huge effort in an attempt to make a certain change in the world.

By doing any of these things, you make a crucial mistake. You remove yourself from the moment. In reality, there is only this moment, and only this place.

Lao-tzu knew this, and saw things differently, in a way that understands and encourages unity, instead of duality. The truth is that we are all one in the Tao, together, right now. When you know this, when you live it, it makes you fluid, powerful, flexible, and responsive.

Unfortunately, duality is all over the place in kink, and is an easy trap to fall into. There are just tons of these “either-or” binary stereotypes that kinky people buy into. For example:

There’s the binary of kinky OR vanilla, separating US from THEM.

There are Old Guard players versus the new age/new wave.

There are people who identify as Gorean, versus those who don’t.

Closer to home, personally, I’ve seen adult babies versus diaper lovers, as well as sexual age players versus nonsexual ones. Heck, I’ve participated in that sort of rigid, codifying, limiting crap!

Years ago, right after I’d gotten involved in the scene, I was deeply entrenched in it. Most of my friends were kinky, and almost 100% of my social life. I was totally drinking the kool-aid about how anything and everything to do with kink was good, while anything vanilla was bad. During one late-night discussion a kinky friend of mine pointed out to me that missionary-position vanilla sex is still sex.

It was like a slap in the face, and one I needed. I realized that I had been defining myself in opposition to other people. “Look, I’m enlightened and sexually adventurous, unlike those vanilla people.” Intolerance, in any form, and against anyone, is still just as ugly.

It’s such an easy, tempting trap to label yourself in counterpoint to someone and something else. But when you do that, you aren’t really seeing that other person, idea, or concept. You’ve stopped looking at it, and slapped a label on it, a judgment. It’s an act of vanity, pride, and honestly, stupidity. When you judge like that, it’s as if you say, “Look, I know everything there is to know about this, and now I will pass my absolute judgment upon it.” Sounds pompous and unpleasant, doesn’t it?

Thankfully, it’s an easy habit to unlearn. Be open and receptive to new ideas, new relationships, new people, and new actions. Approach your life with a sense of adventure, and pay attention to things as they happen. Don’t stay hidebound in some expected result. Instead, be bold, and see where it takes you. Recognize that the result that happened yesterday may not be the one that happens today. Do things for the joy of experiencing them. And instead of bossing people around, act in the way you think is best, and allow people to profit from your example, if they choose to do so.

Stop pointing at the moon, and know it.

  One Response to “Know the Moon”

  1. Quick note about this month’s column, too.

    This verse of the Tao te Ching is taken from a modern translation of the Tao te Ching called “Getting Right with Tao”, by Ron Hogan. It’s also commonly known as the Beatrice Tao. That’s because you can read the whole thing at Ron’s website, Here’s a link to it:

    It’s a really great translation, which is sort of simplified and gritty. He’s blunt, direct, and forward. I love it.