Thursday, February 23, 2012

the tower of spirit

The spirit has an impregnable tower
Which no danger can disturb
As long as the tower is guarded
By the invisible Protector
Who acts unconsciously, and whose actions
Go astray when they become deliberate,
Reflexive, and intentional.

The unconsciousness
And entire sincerity of Tao
Are disturbed by any effort
At self-conscious demonstration.
All such demonstrations
Are lies.

When one displays himself
In this ambiguous way
The world outside storms in 
And imprisons him.

He is no longer protected 
By the sincerity of Tao.
Each now act
Is a new failure.

If his acts are done in public, 
In broad daylight,
He will be punished by men.
If they are done in private
And in secret,
They will be punished
By spirits.

Let each one understand 
The meaning of sincerity
And guard against display!

He will be at peace
With men and spirits
And will act rightly, unseen,
In his own solitude,
In the tower of his spirit.

~ Chuang Tzu
translation by Thomas Merton
sketch by Thomas Merton