Wisdom for the Ages

In honor of Thursday being my last day of classes at Ye Olde Acupuncture School,* I have decided to share with you a master work of philosophical genius that has been lost in the mists of time for at least a year, until the world was ready for such an offering. I refer to one of the most influential pieces of classical literature ever composed, the foundation of great civilization, the inspiration of great culture, the cornerstone of great religion, the cosmology of great healing, and the impetus for great learning: the Tao Te Ching.

Rewritten into jaunty limerick form by yours truly.


The Tao Te Ching

A new translation of the first 12 chapters, by David



Tao. An unnameable notion:
The eternal, original ocean
From which Earth and Heaven
And all mysteries have been
Revealed as just nothing in motion.



Yin and yang – ugly, attractive –
Arise mutually and remain active.
You can’t have just one, no:
The wisdom’s to let go.
The holding on’s what’s most distractive.



Here we investigate worth.
Preferring abundance to dearth
Just creates stealing,
Robbing, freewheeling.
Wanting nothing is Mastery’s birth.



Now to return to the Tao,
And it’s quite paradoxical how
The source of all matter
And celestial chatter
Is magnificent emptiness. Wow.



The galaxy’s not sentimental,
And Mastery isn’t judgmental.
Be empty, impartial.
The secret’s to marshal
Nothing: it’s so transcendental.



The Tao, inexhaustible Mother:
The subtle kind, not one to smother
A child with attention.
That’s not her convention.
Her power is something quite other.



What never starts will never end.
Those who move back will always ascend.
The secret’s to detach,
Be selfless and then match
The giving of Heaven. Transcend!



What benefits all without trying,
Is humble and simple, low-lying?
To accomplish the best good,
The aspiring Sage should
Mimic water’s unselfish supplying.



The opposite of your desires
Will come to you if it transpires
That you keep up your wishes
For overfilled dishes.
Detachment is what peace requires.



Lead without being controlling.
Let things happen and keep the ball rolling.
Seeing only the good stuff
Won’t make you a cream puff.
You’ll be virtuous, prime for extolling.



Like the empty inside a clay pot,
What’s there’s less of use then what’s not.
While the tangible’s fine,
It’s the space that’s divine:
A detail we’ve clearly forgot.



As the ear can be deafened by sound,
The heart hurts when desires abound.
To increase your vibration,
Please reduce stimulation
And keep your mind’s focus profound.


 * It is my last day of classes, but I will not be able to graduate until I finish up my clinical internship. Make your appointment today.



Is it just me, or are these chupacabras getting more improbable? They evolved for sucking goats’ blood, for goodness sake, a profession that does not require porcupine spikes and mosquito eyes. Wings? OK, maybe; there is a theory that the chupacabra is related to the Jersey Devil, which is of course a winged species. But all of those random boils on its flesh do not strike me as sufficiently aerodynamic.

That is my expert critique of this chupacabra.

How are you? I am fine. Fine-ish.

Here’s my news: the classes for my Master’s degree in acupuncture end next week; there is only one left, actually. And then a potluck. And then I have to finish my clinical hours. And then maybe another potluck. And then . . . a new career.

Ninth time’s the charm, they say.


A Research Project

Just after his second election as president, Abraham Lincoln saw a reflection of himself that had two entirely separate faces, one looking normal and the other much paler, which he took as a mystic warning he would not survive his second term. A few days before he was assassinated, he had a dream about a state funeral in the White House. Was this prescience or just pessimism?

A haruspex told Julius Caesar to beware the Ides of March, a notion he pooh-poohed until he was stabbed 23 times on the floor of the Roman Senate on the afternoon of March 15. Less willing to accept an omen than Lincoln would be almost two thousand years later, he nonetheless met the same fate.

In Ireland, a bean sí, or banshee, is a fairy woman or ghost who foretells a death by appearing before the family and wailing inconsolably. If several banshees show up at once, the deceased-to-be is a great person.

The Wild Hunt, a hunting party composed of specters, fairies, or other terrifying figures—in full accoutrements, complete with horses, hounds, and brandished weapons—in mad pursuit of prey, across the landscape or across the sky, is said to be a portent of death, war, or catastrophe.

Witnessed by dozens of ordinary people in Point Pleasant, WV before the Silver Bridge collapsed in December 1967, the Mothman—a large, brown flying creature with a seven-foot wingspan and large, reflective red eyes—has also been seen in the vicinity immediately prior to other horrific disasters, such as the an earthquake in Mexico City and the Chernobyl meltdown.

Other flying creatures­—birds—are much more common than giant humanoid moths as augurs of death. Crows, cuckoos, doves, eagles, geese, hens, jackdaws, larks, magpies, owls, pigeons, plovers, ravens, robins, gulls, sparrows, swallows, vultures, and whippoorwills all have portentous capabilities. To be taken seriously, some must display elaborate or unlikely behaviors, such as having a jackdaw climb down your chimney or a hen laying a double-yoked egg, but others, like the whippoorwill, need only be glimpsed, and the plover only needs to be heard.

I hope you all have a nice week.