Alphabe Thursday T is for the Taoist monk … etc.
This week I go back to the other side of the world to China;to where walkers in the mountains, often portrayed in ancient poetry and paintings, didn’t celebrate the mountains but the wanderings. To ‘wander’ is the Taoist code for becoming ecstatic; the arriving was sometimes regarded as a non-event . A common theme in 8th century poetry by Li Po, is the search for a Taoist master in the mountains and then not finding him. Mountains had both physical and symbolic geography so that literal walking has metaphorical overtones:
a poem by the humourous Buddhist Hermit Han Shan a contemporary of Li Po.
“People ask the way to Cold Mountain
Cold Mountain? There is no road that goes through …
How can you hope to get there by aping me?
Your heart and mine are not alike.”
It would seem that walking is a good thing to do but not without hardships and diversions on the way. For life is a journey through a wilderness. This concept, universal to the point of banality, could not survived unless it were biologically true.
None of our revolutionary heroes is worth a thing until he has been on a long walk. Che Guevera spoke of the ‘nomadic phase ‘ of the Cuban Revolution, Mao Tse-Tung did the Long March, Moses the Exodus then there was Odysseus’ epic journey home after the Trojan War.
Robert Burton writes in his Anatomy of Melancholy ‘Movement is the best cure for melancholy.