New work – 23rd December, 2009

A Tao of One’s Own II. (excerpt)

István Vörös

New work–23rd December, 2009

New work

In our heads there is
the memory of an ancient world
from the time before our birth,
a sight emerging
from the time of closed eyes.

Do not follow the saints,
do not hold the wise man as holy;
and the wise shall be holy men,
and the saints shall be wise.
It is not good to act without their counsel.
Do not fall into depravity,
and do not hold the tedious to be virtuous:
the virtuous shall be wise,
the wise shall be virtuous.
It is not good to act without their counsel.
Do not consider children to be saints,
do not lead their parents to depravity:
and the parents shall be children,
and the children parents.
It is not good to listen to each others’ counsel.
Do not follow the masters,
do not follow the disciples:
and the saints shall be disciples,
the wise men shall be simpletons.
Without cultivation there is no forgetting,
without forgetting there is no purity.
Do not count your money,
            but the stars,
do not gaze at the stars,
            but at the heavens,
do not be engrossed in the sky,
            but with yourself,
do not know yourself,
            but the world.
Do not set off into the world
            but call the path the world.
Do not dispel the world,
            but yourself.
Do not disrupt the oneness
             but the multiplicity.
Do not set off on a path, let the path come to you,
name nothing by its name
            the name shall come to you.
Do not learn, knowledge shall come to you,
do not teach, the questions shall come to you.
Do not forget,
            the answer lies within itself.
The good arrives upon the path. Otherwise
it wouldn’t find its way here.
We do not see the path.
Be there, where the good
shall arrive.
The path is covered with secrets,
like the autumn dawn with fog,
secrets cover the good
like bread by a dish-towel.
Secrets cover the path
like concrete, the cars
rumble forward upon it,
secrets cover the good.
Like nakedness by a bikini.
But the mother’s milk of uncertain
origin penetrates the secret,
eventualities and pollen,
sweet foods and greasy drinks,
the incandescent scent of beginnings.
Milk trickles in the ditches next to the street,
if you stop your car,
you lean over and drink from it.
If a car drinks of the milk
of the beginning, it becomes a
carriage pulled by six horses.
If the driver drinks of the milk,
he will be able to ride the billy-goat,
he will be able to turn back
the vehicle,
to travel in the opposite direction with
the necessary recognition.
Not every path is a path.
The byway trodden by the beasts is a path,
the Gulf Stream is a path,
the misguided path is one-way, concrete-covered
and only passable at high speeds.
The Tao of the car
leads it to the concrete path. But the Tao
of the car and the person are not identical.
The virtue of the car and the person
are not identical.
Who does not pass along his own route
shall lose his virtue.
Who finds what has been lost
sees himself from without.
And one of them travels
upon the path. That which becomes one
with our I shall perish.
To be born is the hardest,
to die the easiest.
Do not move: strength is needed.
If we live: celebration without end.
The wise man packs up his books
and at times leafs through the pages.
The person who sleeps in the street
in a larger box finds shelter.
The begging bowl before him,
meditates on the gasoline vapor,
carrying his own birth,
on his back no easy death.
Instead of the path you can say
anything: aqueduct,
pulse, air-corridor.
Or this: horse dung,
beer bottle, golden chain.
But do not say: constipation,
thrombosis, air-raid warning.
Do not say: exhaust-pipe fumes,
plastic bottle, fake jewels.
The Tao can mean anything,
but not anything can mean the Tao.
The funnel of a tornado, touching close
to the ground, a tree reaching to the sky, its
roots not extending to the fertile soil.
The possibility of miracles,
the one true power,
the star-splotched sky,
the cloud-grimed sheet of glass
splinters upward.
That is why we have made,
down below, a country and a world.
Who would dare to revolt
against the rule of names?
Who bestow a name
betray themselves,
who would hear that name
stray dangerously close
to the truth.
The path begins on the water
of mountain brooks, it seethes down,
but not towards the sea.
Traverse it to the end,
but board no vessel!

If you are that which
others believe,
you are not.
If you are not what
you believe yourself,
you sweat.
If you do what
others also want,
no problem.
If you don’t do what
you yourself want,
it’s baffling.
If you want what
others don’t,
that is you,
if you give it up,
and then forget –
it remains on you.
If you renounce the other things
and yourself,
you will find
in yourself not-yourself,
in your end
the beginning.
In our heads there is
the memory of an ancient world
from the time before our birth,
a sight emerging
from the time of closed eyes.
We suckled on non-existence
in the amniotic fluid.
We drank and we pissed it out.
Who can recall
the sphere of non-existence?
The holy man, the wise man, the madman.
A truer, older form,
colour slipped away:
the fourth brethren
yellow, blue and red.
Who saw this:
dreams in black and white.
Who touched this
puts his hands behind his back
as if sitting on the school-bench.
Once the world
was the size of a child’s fist.
And lighter
than an egg.
Floating disembodied forms
ruled over the rest.
The holy man notices
their chilled places,
the wise man fills their footprints
with words,
the madman clings
to the edge of their cloaks.
The house must be built
so that it can be demolished.
The windows must be glazed
so that they can be broken
The walls must be raised upright
so that one day they will lie horizontal.
But we think it natural
that there is a past.
However, the past, if we
are not watching, does not happen.
The horizontal comes before
the vertical, the fragment
does not believe in the whole,
what exists does not yield its place
to that attempting to exist.
We should not be able to know
about the fishes of the deep sea
and – wobbling through the void –
the magnetic rocks.
Translation by Ottilie Mulzet 
Previously on HLO


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