Tao Te Ching 39

Humility is the root of greatness.

Those in the high positions do well to think of themselves as powerless, small, and unworthy.

Isn’t this taking humility for the root?

Attain honor without being honored.

Don’t shine like jade, or chime like bells

Ta Chuang

To achieve true power and true greatness

one must be in harmony with what is right.

False power and false greatness can be seen all around us in the world. Through egotistical and aggressive manipulations many people obtain a temporary position of influence. The I Ching teaches us a different way of acquiring and using power, one that leads to true greatness and enduring influence. The way of the Sage unites power with modesty, justice, gentleness, and equanimity.

The hexagram Ta Chuang indicates that you have increased your power now by purifying your thoughts and actions. Through contemplation of higher principles you have begun to open doors for yourself; through alignment with what is true and good you gain insight into situations and the power to resolve them in your favor. But it is important to remember that it is the Sage who is the source of your strength. If your ego takes over and wields the power that is at hand, the ensuing misfortune will be great.

The I Ching counsels us not to misuse our strength by judging, condemning, punishing, manipulating, or dismissing others. It advises reticence in speech and action: more often than not, the truly superior relies on stillness and nonaction, allowing inner truth to penetrate gently to the heart of difficulties. The I Ching also cautions us to wait patiently for the appropriate time for speech or action. Power can make us eager, but eagerness unbalances and leads us into trouble. By listening carefully and patiently to the Sage we know when to move ahead, when to wait, and when to retreat.

In the end, true greatness comes only to those in whom strength and proper principles are firmly united. If you follow the Sage and persevere steadfastly in what is correct, you will inherit the power of the great.

Project of the Day: Compost Screen

I built a three stage compost bin a couple of years ago. There are three adjoining bins where progressively composted material is stored.

Once material is in the third bin it’s almost ready to use in pots and the garden. Screening the compost removes the big chunks and twigs and creates a really nicely textured soil amendment. I built this compost screen using cedar scraps, hardware cloth and an old plastic bin.

To use it I don gardening gloves and grab handfuls of compost and rub it around the screen. I throw whats left into the woods. It takes about ten minutes to process a bin full of compost.

33 Days Without Facebook

hack social media

It’s been 33 days since I left Facebook.  I have mixed feelings about it.  I feel better about not supporting a company that acted irresponsibly with user’s data and that was complicit in a range of heinous actions including spreading tribal hatred inside the US and abroad.  Recently the NYT wrote an article critical of Facebook in Sri Lanka for not shutting down sites promoting the rumor that Muslims were feeding sterilization pills to Sinhalese.  I do miss posting and reacting to people I was connected to and without the contact I feel more distant from those people.  I did not replace it with phone, live or even email contact.  I feel better because I’m not routinely exposed to news that irritates me.  I feel better about being far less exposed to click-bait.  I substituted this blog as an outlet and although I spend a lot less time on it than I did Facebook, it’s still in the same genre of self-disclosure, self-promotion and reinforcement with views and “likes.”  I also read blogs from other people.  I feel like the level of writing is much higher than Facebook.  The posts are longer and better thought out.  The comments to posts seem to be better-written too and for whatever reason, less polarized and antagonistic.  Perhaps this is due to the gate-keeping role of the bloggers themselves.

I have no current plan to return to Facebook and I can’t say when or if that would change or what would have to happen for me to think differently about it.  It’s not just that Facebook was complicit in spreading state-sponsored Russian propaganda or even that it was complicit in spreading rumors and divisive opinions of real haters in America.  It’s more that I feel better without the interaction that Facebook promotes.  It was like candy.  Something I enjoyed but did not or could not moderate.