Saturday, October 8, 2011

Blame it on the midnight brewing up of the Bialetti — Or is there something else at work here?

Photo/Text © 2011 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.


This impulse to be irreverent to the possible detriment of one's bank account, at least in the short-term. The desire, that is, to throw caution to the wind and to create with (relative) reckless abandon. An impulse fueled by a number of recent happenings, some of which shall herein go undivulged, others, like the titular brewing up of the Bialetti and the textual urgings of the I Ching, propelling me to live life more fully, more wholeheartedly, more courageously.

Two nights ago Zhouyi counseled me to craft a vessel which unites all our concerns, to complete a revolution, to cast a new order. And to write words worthy of being cast into bronze, words to be inscribed upon a ding, or cauldron, which as a vessel from which to feed the many once symbolized legitimacy to rule over a land, over a people. But with this came a responsibility to rule with wisdom, humility, and compassion for the well-being of those people.

Far from being fueled by a late-night infusion of caffeine, the ideal person who held a bronze three-legged ding, and who thereby held the right to rule, was to serve others while being, himself, an empty vessel, one who could integrate all levels of society with Heaven and Earth. In being this empty, the noble one emulates the ding, solidifies his command, much as the bronze solidifies the writing and the magical motifs on its surface. This sage-ruler is advised to melt his own honor "in the crucible of change, and cast it into the mold he makes by his daily activities."

A tall order, no?

But this has come up again and again, this cauldron, the vessel of Hexagram 50. And in recognition of its truth, I have decided, just tonight (though like the Bialetti this has been brewing slowly for some time), to live more fully, more courageously, much more wholeheartedly within the territory of this simple blog which, for too long now, has served mostly as a repository for my various course and workshop offerings.  These will no doubt continue to be a motif engraved upon the surface of this place we have for five years now referred to as Mindful Living Guide, sometimes with, sometimes without, the dot-com. However, beginning with this very post, a more lively brew shall begin simmering in this cauldron which shall integrate, if not all levels of society with Heaven and Earth, my own thoughts and imaginings beyond course particulars.

This post owes its existence, in substance and in phrasing, to Deng Ming-Dao, the author of The Living I Ching, which I had the pleasure of using in the I Ching course I led this past February through March. Additionally, Ming-Dao (his first name) sent me, via email, the following further explanation:  "The cauldron, or ding, is a deep symbol of Chinese culture. It symbolizes stability, antiquity, ceremony, and sacrifice. In the past, possessing certain cauldrons was tantamount to legitimacy of rule. From a creative standpoint, it is the container for our investigations and ambitions." In this way, I intend for Mindful Living Guide to be a container for my own investigations and ambitions, both writerly and spiritual/philosophical. And I hope this container shall, in turn, provide some nourishment and nurturing for those who come here to visit and, ideally, to share.

1 comment:

  1. How does one integrate the "impulse to be irreverent" with the aim "to write words worthy of being cast in bronze?" The artist must always think beyond societal limits, and yet, paradoxically, only such imagination makes art the centerpiece of a community.

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