Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Beginning

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New moon starts a cycle. We see a new moon near the horizon close to sunset: the beginning of a lunar month comes at the close of the cycle of a day. Anywhere in the middle, of a project, or a conversation, or your life, beginnings and endings are dancing in perfect sync. The middle is probably where you are, so begin from there. Where does a circle start, anyway?
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"There is a beginning. There is not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is being. There is nonbeing. There is not yet beginning to be nonbeing. There is not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be nonbeing. Suddenly there is nonbeing. But I do not know, when it comes to nonbeing, which is really being and which is nonbeing. Now I have just said something. But I don't know whether what I have said has really said something or whether it hasn't said something"
--the Taoist Chuang-Tzu (369?-286? B.C.E.) in Stephen Mitchell's The Enlightened Mind
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One of my clients wondered how a good writer knows at the beginning how everything will come out at the end, having seen all the interesting twists and turns along the way ahead of time. She was certain that they do, which disqualified her as a writer, since, though she is great at delivering punch lines for jokes, she can't foresee the ends of stories. Not surprisingly, she was having trouble even getting started again on her own writing. After doing The Work on the thought "Writers see the whole piece before they start," she was able to jump right into writing exercises, and voila': instant costume change from non-writer to writer.

For me, The Work (four simple questions and a way of turning thoughts around) is the very best place to start. It clears the mind, like a new moon does.
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