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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Tao of Fishing

This is a poem that I wrote long ago and is influenced by a time in my life that I felt very spiritually connected by fishing rivers. I would fish the mighty Shenandoah River for smallmouth bass one weekend a month and the other weekend I would fish the mountain streams of the Appalachians for trout for most of the year, though in winter months I would only fish the trout streams in the crystaline clear water and air of the mountains. At the time I was studying Taoism in depth as it resonated with my spirit and over a three day period, I wrote the following verse. I hope that you can feel the spiritual connection that I felt at this time of my life.

                                     The Tao of Fishing 

                                    The Tao of Fishing

                                Is not the Tao that can be named                               

                                It is the Tao of the universe

                                      Where all is one                                

                                 The Tao ebbs and flows                          

                               As the continuity of the river                                 

                                      Great and strong

                                    Slow and feeble                                  

                                    But ever present                               

                            As the great consciousness                

                    Where one joins the Ten Thousand Things               


           When does one man join the Ten Thousand Things?                          

                               Many have pondered for centuries                       

                                    When river meets man                         

                                    When man meets rod                          

                                    When rod meets reel                            

                                    When reel meets line                             

                                    When line meets lure
                                   When lure meets water                                        
                                   When water meets man                                      
                                    The cycle is complete 
                                   Time and river are one 
                              What flows by can not be regained
                                Take heart in this 
                         The wise fisher remembers and profits 
                         The foolish fisher forgets and has no success
                                     Many wonder how to live 
                                    It is best to be like the bass 
                                    Live not in the mainstream 
                                          But by the edge 
                                       Steadied by the calm 
                                     Ready to reach for the chance                               
                                         The carp is slow 
                                 Gliding low and out of range 
                                 Unperturbed is his nature 
                                       The trout is careful 
                      Swimming and waiting with a chance to discern 
                               Before belief comes swiftly and fatally 
                        Who knows the way of the freshwater clam? 
                         Traces of empty shell are only to be found 
                                   What was once is no more
                                       The fish is not the Tao
                                     But the Fish, one of the Ten Thousand Things
                                               Is of the Tao
                       The river motion is of the Tao  
                                  But it is not the Tao 
                                 The motion unites man and river 
                                  And are of the Tao
                                  But they are not the Tao
                         When the river does not flow 
                           And there is no motion
                                    There is death
                                   This is not the Tao
                                    And not of the Tao
                             In the Tao there is only motion
                                        Motion is life
                               Motion is at one with the Tao
                                        Life is Tao
                                         Tao is motion 
                         One does not strive to capture the Tao 
                         As the wise fisherman does not set out to catch the fish 
                          Instead the wise fisherman seeks perfection in motion
                                  And joins the Ten Thousand Things
                         In this manner the wise fisherman is set free by the Ten       Thousand Things
                                    In this manner the fish joins the fisher 
                                                When the fisher is of the Tao
                                                    He often releases the fish                      
                                                He does not rejoice in death
                                             He does not condone the waste of life
                        But consumes only what is needed to sustain life             
                    The Tao embodies and preserves life in the Ten Thousand Things                             
 © Sherri Lynne Tancyus 1983












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