Our last posting emphasized the importance that the Zentropist must place on acting decisively and committing with a “fullness of intent,” yet also paradoxically suggested that all actions must remain interruptible; that is, the Zentropist must adapt to changing circumstances by remaining keenly attuned to all senses.
Upon first impression, this may seem a virtual impossibility, for how can one commit yet not commit? This can be expressed by invoking the mental image of an antenna that can transmit or receive signals depending on how it is wired. The Zentropist, even while in “transmission mode,” must always reserve sufficient “bandwidth” to continuously receive, to be able to process the data stream arising from his or her interaction with the surrounding environment and make necessary adjustments without fail. Newtonian physics teaches us that every action has an “equal and opposite” reaction, which again, is nature’s way of finding and achieving balance.
In order to operate effectively, the Zentropist accepts that one must maintain, “The adaptability to operate in fluid environments and to remain interruptible.”
The Zentropist acknowledges that if a course of action is not producing the desired results, it is foolhardy to blindly continue on the course without making some adjustment. In certain circumstances, the adjustment(s) may be relatively minor; yet these seemingly small acknowledgments can have significant cumulative effect. Conversely, there are times when a particular tactic or stratagem is simply untenable, even if they have worked previously, and to stubbornly refuse to see this creates unnecessary hardship and stress on the enterprise in question. In these instances, the Zentropist must be prepared to find new solutions, which may reflect a change in objectives (the short-term) or signify a change in goals (the long-term).
Again, one must be cautioned against falling into the trap of interpreting resistance as an indication that a course of action is misguided or incorrect; change of any kind produces stress, and stress must not always be looked at in a pejorative light. What is critical is maintaining a careful alignment of both the objectives and goals and seeking to move continuously towards their resolution.
In Lao Tzu’s classic work, Tao Te Ching, the expression appears, “to be like water.” Water is a natural element that is at once fluid and powerful; given sufficient time, water will erode the mightiest rock and can even defeat metal. It does this, however, not through brute application of force or imposition of its will, but by remaining fluid, chipping away at the obstacle as it continues on its journey, whether as drops falling from the sky or a stream, river or sea which is constantly in motion. In this deceptively compliant manner, it imposes the “death of a thousand cuts.” And the Zentropist does well to remember that, “The fluent (or fluid) blade cuts cleanly.”
I’ll leave you for now with a passage from Lao Tzu, as translated by Chao-Hsiu Chen:
The greatest good is like water:
It benefits all life without being noticed.
It flows even to the lowliest places where no one chooses to be
and so it is very close to the Tao.
It settles only in quiet locations.
Its deepest heart is always clear.
It offers itself with great goodness.
It keeps its rhythm as it keeps its promises.
It governs tributaries as it governs its people.
It adapts to all necessities.
It moves at the right moment.
It never flaunts its goodness
and so it never attracts any blame.