The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

–Written by Lao-tzu
From a translation by S. Mitchell

I love watching Chi experience the world. To watch him stick his nose into a blossoming rose,  bark at a squirrel taunting him on a telephone wire far above his head, or just lay on the warm flagstones by the shed in the backyard… all of these speak to immediate experience. I move to pick up my camera, and it all shifts. I’ll pester the pug, I’ll try to position him for a photo, I’ll cajole and beg.  The moment is gone, just like that.

All of Chi’s lessons are exactly like this. It’s all fun to watch him hamming it up, and then to tell you about it. But nothing makes Chi happier than me getting down with him and playing, chasing the squirrel with him, or sunning on the grass right beside him. When I play with Chi, I’m present and want nothing. The minute I grab my camera and say, “wow, I can get a perfect shot of this thing”… I’m in desire and the experience is now a manifestation, an idea — a Thing.

Chi helps me get over myself. And that’s a gift we can all use now and again.


And yet, though we strain

against the deadening grip

of daily necessity, I sense there is this mystery:

All life is being lived.

Who is living it, then?

Is it the things themselves,

or something waiting inside them,

like an unplanned melody in a flute?

—  Rainer Maria Rilke