The Tao of Chicken Butt

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The Tao of Chicken Butt

The supreme good is like water,

Which nourishes all things without trying to.

It is content with the low places that people disdain.

Thus it is like the Tao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.

In thinking, keep to the simple.

In conflict, be fair and generous.

In governing, don’t try to control.

In work, do what you enjoy.

In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to simply be yourself

And don’t compare and compete,

Everybody will respect you.

-Tao Te Ching - verse 8


A friend and I were chatting earlier today. Ok, that sounds weird. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever used the term “chatting” before. I really just wanted to try it out, and honestly, it sounds dumb. If you could see the two of us, you’d think “chatting” wasn’t the right term. Grunting like apes, maybe. Having a “bro sesh”, again, maybe. And technically, we were texting. So… Ok. Let’s take chatting off the table.

So, we were texting. The idea of having the rug pulled out from under you came up. Like, what if everything is on point, career, affairs in order, the right house, the right situation all around. All of the things that you wanted have come to you. Not magically, but through your very own hard work and determination. Proper planning, foresight, diligence. You look around and say “Damn, I made it.” And then, through no fault of your own, an industry shake up, a hurricane, you get robbed. Whatever. But suddenly it’s all taken from you.

What then? Well, foresight and due diligence would tell us that we should have a plan B. And a plan B to backup plan B. I guess that would be Plan C. Or Plan B squared. Semantics.

Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well?

-        Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Page 61

My buddy and I are alcoholics. So fortunately, there was a book written about us before we were born. This describes what we were talking about in very clear language. We go about most of the time as alcoholics, even in recovery, trying to control shit. Like it says on page 61, we are victims of a delusion. That delusion says that if we could just get everything arranged properly, we’ll be happy. Finally. But damn, that means we’ve gotta get everybody else to cooperate. That’s always been the problem for me. As much as I want things a certain way, there’s billions of other people on the planet, and guess what they want?

Well that’s not my problem, I’m a man! A man who discovered fire, and built the wheel with braun! I’ll show these little piss ants!

So, we set about our day, making the calls. Doing the research. Shopping for the best interest rate, the highest dividends. We wait on hold. We send the emails, and we check our inbox even though there’s been no notification that a new email has been sent back. There must be something wrong. Don’t these people know who I am? That’s it, I want to talk to the manager.

Take it easy Karen, smoke a bone.

At this point, the to do list is getting longer. The dishes are piling up in the sink. Our eyes are bloodshot and the dog is just plain scared. The phone rings and a friend asks how things are going and we shout, “Great! I’m fucking feeling amazing!” Meanwhile we’re standing on a milk crate in our underwear, and there’s a steak knife in our hand.

Maybe that’s just me…

But you get the idea. We’ll be happy when-

We’ll take time off when-

Things will be perfect when-

I’ll take 3 actual full breaths in a row when-

Dude, how about now?

Let’s not miss out on today, while we plan our tomorrows.

This dude Brad was the singer in a band called Chicken Butt. Their guitar player was later arrested and charged for being the center city bandit. Whoa, that’s a whole other story. Anyway, Brad used to sell carpet cleaner on the street and do all these demonstrations. He even worked the gimmick into the bands live show. Anyway, we used to get drunk and he’d talk about this book called The Tao. I was so intrigued I wound up shoplifting it and it changed my way of looking at the world when I was about 24 years old. I highly recommend it. The book, not shoplifting. I have a new copy on my desk as I write this. I paid for it. I swear.

Taoists believe that all things in nature work in conjunction with each other. Tao can be translated as “way”. There’s a way. A natural order of things. And we all play a role. Our true nature. To push against that is to endure misery. To accept and embrace it is to follow the way. Someone who is in alignment with their true nature is in the flow of life. Like water, when we come up against an obstacle, we find a “way” around, or under, or over. Easily, effortlessly. The path of least resistance. This is the way.

When we get quiet and turn that monkey mind down, when the great creative intelligence sees that we are at our most authentic. When we are living our true nature. The path lights up before us and we see the way clearly. I think that’s the way to do it.

Maybe when we feel like we’re paddling upstream and life’s tossing us toward the rocks, we should just toss the oars overboard and let the river take us where it wants. That’s kind of what’s gonna happen anyway so why fight it? I’ll take the path of least resistance. Like water.


Jai Guru Deva

Thomas Ramsburg

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