Tag Archives: Tao Te Ching

Ursula K. Le Guin Passes the Torch

An author leaves us the legacy of our humanity.

The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969. Often misattributed to Hemingway.

Leaving the library with the crispness of winter in the air this last week, I pondered the noisy freight express that pushes us, collectively, as a society, into the time-clock chores that eclipse our existence.

Being so “busy”, I wondered if we could afford to take the time to savor the lives of those who offer us the opportunity to participate in the fullness and spaciousness of being here.

Last night, I got an answer to my question when I heard that Ursula K. Le Guin had passed away. Here was an author, poet, translator, essayist, that I cherished, who has consistently inspired me to step off the conveyor belt.  Ursula was as candidly human, as she was a creator of worlds and encouraged us to honestly engage in life.

In 1968, Ursula originated a wizarding school, almost three decades before Harry Potter went to Hogwarts. But this daughter of anthropologists, steered the genre of fantasy and science fiction past the borders of literature into an open exploration of our humanity.

Throughout her novels, collections of poetry, children’s and Young Adult books, essays and translation of the Tao te Ching, there is a subtlety and finesse that upholds a balance. Her feminism, while strong and consistently well spoken, does not overshadow her humanitarianism. Her writing goes beyond ‘isms’, into a space where we may, “feel that progress is less important than presence.”

Just as the old Jewish adage states that “a good question is worth five good answers”, Ursula K. Le Guin’s writing asks us to ponder our lives. We are invited to consider our need to cling to such things as, hierarchy, gender roles, ambition, overstimulation, rage, youth, status, constant growth, constant noise, and control over everything.  Here is someone whose journey stands as a torch we can take up to venture into the unknown where our lives beckon.

I find it significant that she lived to be 88, the number of keys on a piano-forte. Ursula was like a beautiful instrument, with full dynamic range. The melodies she offered ring out to us as keys to unlock our cages of certainty.

This past year, Mrs. Le Guin had been blogging, active on Twitter and just published a new collection of essays called, No Time to Spare, Thinking About What Matters. (Did I mention she was 88?) I checked this book out from the library and plan on buying the other book she published last year, Words Are My Matter: Writings about Life and Books. Instead of buying it online, because it is more convenient and less, “time consuming,” I will honor her memory by walking into a bookstore, revel in the experience, and savor some human interaction.

Simplicity, patience and compassion

We are constantly seeking an identity in all that we do, so knowing  that we are love incarnate,  we can relax our effort towards self aggrandizement and silently bestow what we are to everyone and each task that we undertake.  Bringing the light hearted into what would be considered hardship or a serious endeavor allows us all to take sneak peeks behind the veil.


My sister, Dr. aimee, is an incredible human being, a powerhouse of energy, creativity and concern.  She is an amazing audiologist and has her practice at a holistic, therapeutic, pediatric collective called Therapeeds*, which provides positive results without zombifiying their patients with medications.

One day aimee was reading a Roald Dahl book with a boy who was autistic.  They were discussing the book and witches and the boy looked at aimee and said, “You look like a witch.”  Aimee asked him why he thought she looked like a witch.  “Because you have a nose like a witch.”

Now, not only is aimee beautiful and much more like Mary Poppins on the magic side of the spectrum than a witch in one of Mr. Dahl’s books but she is also patient.  The next day they were reading the Ugly Duckling and discussed the brother and sister ducks teasing the young swan in their midst.  The boy said it was mean the way they were talking to the swan. “Like telling someone they looked like a witch?” my sister asked him, not unkindly.  His eyes grew wide, “Oh, that was mean of me to say that to you,” he said.  She told him he could think whatever he liked, his thoughts were his own but that he didn’t always have to share if it might hurt someone’s feelings.  He got it without shame.

Rabbi Hillel was once rudely asked by a man if he could teach the whole of the Torah while standing on one foot and he replied, ” “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

There were also two men who had a bet that they could make Hillel angry.  They insulted his Babylonian origin, but they both lost the bet. Hillel had simplicity, patience and compassion.

“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

May the victory of simplicity, patience and compassion be ours, even periodically through the week.

*- www.Therapeeds.com

a Red Clover at the center of the world