Guest Post: Colin on reading the Tao Te Ching

Introduction: I first met Colin back in Istanbul in 1998. He’d already lived in the city for five years, I was there for just one. In 2000 we both came to Bangkok, and while I’ve been coming and going, Colin has been here the whole time since.

I’ve not yet seen Colin at a single Dharma talk of any tradition, but I know few people who live the teachings more fully in every moment of his life and art. He paints, draws, takes great photos, and lives a life of compassion and appreciation.

I asked him if he’d like to contribute a post on this blog, and he said he’d write something on the Tao Te Ching. Which, by the way, he reads, a single verse a day, from the most battered-looking book you’ve ever seen in your life!

Guest Post: Colin on reading the Tao Te Ching

Now all you need for this exercise is… a piece of paper and a pen !

Now get down and draw a vendiagram , yup one of those ( if you can’t recall what it looks like feel free to ask marcus )

now place an X in the diagram to express where you currently stand in your life related to groups of interest or disinterest

eg. mother-inlaws or religion… excellent !

Now if this current place appears to be a tiny bit fractious or indeed you simply fancy a change in perspective without being noticed,

then you need L’s hat shop.

” Ma ! Bobbie’s wearing his grimy awful baseball cap but he’s walkin’ like he’s wearin’ a Trilby !”

” Come on J.R. you’re just jealous. ”

( Bobbie always did have a hard time… I mean even when J.R. was shot he came out dancin’. )

” Hon’ you’re got to learn to shoot straight… like I do . ”

Now at L’s hat shop he has as you all know, 82 different hats in all shapes and sizes to fit anyone, and that’s not all you can change them

anytime you want unbeknown to your fellow groups . hat no 18…. is what I’m sporting today.

Imagine there you are in that bunker again… before hole no 18 you can just about see the flickering flag. yes you have to get your

shoes mucky again, muttering to yourself because quite frankly your parnter has had enough you take your first swing at the ball.

No ! it hits the bunker edge and gently laughingly rolls back down…

Now comes that job of finding your swing, the one that suits your body and mind…. you read chapter eighteen again. looking between

the lines gritting your teeth you let go ! You feel the sand beneath your soles, the wind ruffles your hair and you begin to listen

to the rustling of the leaves ( why are leaves always rustling in zen accounts you mutter…. )

flowing you swing your club and VOILA the ball sails cleanly over the edge and I’ll be damned right into hole no 18.

and once again connecting with yourself you fin d your walk and mind seem to just float along… man that L really knew his stuff

good job he was around.


He’s not updated it for a while, but here’s Colin’s excellent blog: Spaces and Lines


Picture: The lovely image here is also by Colin. His partner’s father, a wonderful man, passed away last year and after the five days of ceremonies at the local temple, Colin presented this magnificent work to the head monk, where it was very warmly received.

8 thoughts on “Guest Post: Colin on reading the Tao Te Ching”

    1. Thank you for the comment Tanya.

      The language we use to express both ourselves and the Dharma varies constantly according to person and situation, and what communicates with some might not with others.

      I mean, imagine the reactions to those first Zen teachers with their non-conceptual stories and hwadus and the like! People must have thought they were from another planet!

      Now, I’m not saying Colin is a Zen teacher (although he most certainly is to me) but I’m so glad to have his voice on this blog – I find it, like him, unique, talented, deeply honest, and wise. And fun too.

      By the way Tanya – we are still looking forward to a guest post from you! Do you know Chong Go Sunim’s email address? That’s where you’d send your post after you write it.


      1. thanks, Marcus, you answered my question on where to send guest post (which I asked you in my mind) and also I was just laughing (on my own) while reading Surangama sutra (I love it so very much), here is the passage:

        “Therefore, you should
        know that your Mind is fundamentally wonderful, bright and
        pure and that because of your delusion and stupidity, you
        have missed it and so are caught on the wheel of transmigration,
        sinking and floating in the samsaric sea. This is why the
        Tathàgata says that you are the most pitiable of men.”’

  1. This is mostly for Carl, but not only. You probably gonna take my comment out of here, but please read it before deleting. I just read Carl A. reply on my comment in his post and it just made me kind of sick, you, Carl so deluded with your sex and love making, and advise on relationship and really?? There is more to human life than thinking about your d…k ! It is your mind that is full of this crap that makes you want to copulate and make up reasons and justifications. You actually insulted every monk including Buddha. Good luck with your next rebirth.
    It is just totally useless even writing here, do not want to put a post anymore, thought Surangama’s fascinating explanation about mind would be interesting, but whom am I kidding, it is totally useless. By the way, Buddha’s reason for teaching Surangama is worth thinking about, especially for Carl. Carl -you make me sick!
    Don’t bother answering this, I will not open this blog or any other blog for that matter, it is just waste of time

    1. Tanya,

      How many times are you going to come on this blog, insult people, promise yourself publically that you won’t return, and then come back and do the same all over again?

      I take it your quote from the sutra was directed at me (“the most pitiable of men”), and I’d be offended if it weren’t actually true! I am pitiable, and, thank goodness, I am the recipient of great compassion for my state.

      As for your direct insult of Carl, well, I can’t really speak for him, and I agree that your post probably does deserve to be deleted pretty soon, but I can tell you that Carl is one of the most caring people I know. He might make you sick Tanya, but I am glad to know him. He is, beyond any doubt, a real brother to me.

      A running theme through all your insulting comments has been your disdain for sex. That’s fair enough Tanya, but disliking sex and intimacy does not make you a better person. It just makes you you. For many, sex is an important and valuable part of being human.

      I am sad to see your antagonism and disdain for others Tanya. You’ve said already how you enjoy being the only non-Korean at the Seonwon, and I suspect that with your aggressive and holier-than-thou attitudes, this might remain the case for a long time.

      Tanya, my advice to you is to go lighter on people. Allow them to be themselves. You don’t have to respond to every blog post you don’t like with negative comments. You don’t have to find sutra-based insults for me. You don’t have to insult Carl or pick up on Joseph’s every last word or have long-running disputes with Evelyn. Just relax.

      Tanya, just let go. Smile. Breathe.

      Don’t leave the blog. But do try to drop the insults.

      Marcus _/\_

  2. ‘Now comes that job of finding your swing, the one that suits your body and mind…. you read chapter eighteen again. ‘

    Tao Te Ching Verse 18
    When the great Tao is forgotten,
    Kindness and morality arise.
    When wisdom and intelligence are born,
    The great pretense begins.

    When there is no peace within the family,
    Filial piety and devotion arise.
    When the country is confused and in chaos,
    Loyal ministers appear.

  3. Thank you Evelyn and Carol for your lovely comments! They mean a lot. Thank you both so much. I can’t tell you how much your kindness is appreciated. Thank you.

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