Heaven and Earth are impartial
And regard myriad things as straw dogs
The sages are impartial
And regard people as straw dogs
The first section of this verse makes me think of my white dog. At times, she seems to be the princess of evil: attacking my livestock, finding escapes from my secure fence, looking for ways to make my life miserable. However, when I settle and watch, I realize evil is a formation in my mind, a straw dog. My flesh and bone dog has needs and desires which I can only imagine and these urges have nothing to do with evil or destructiveness or me.
When I empty my mind of conclusions. When I allow my eyes to observe. When I let nature take its course. I can know more about the mind of another…even a dog. Rather than securing each breach in my fence AFTER it has occurred, I watch and determine if a pattern is occurring, if my dog is seeking the path of least resistance, if the increasing desire to escape will come back down to, decrease back to a tolerable level, to a level that doesn’t lead to a dead dog on the side of the road.
The space between Heaven and Earth
Is it not like a bellows?
Empty, and yet never exhausted
It moves, and produces more
Section two takes my breath away. The image of a bellows inhaling nothing, producing nothing, converting nothing into everything. This idea of physical nothing producing physical everything takes me to my thoughts of what a human should do for fellow humans. Act in good faith. It takes nothing. Listen to what is being said to you. It takes a hollow minute. Admit when you are wrong. It takes an empty ego. How better to repair your soul and enhance your standing with another.
Too many words hasten failure
Cannot compare to keeping quiet
Final section. My dog, though she doesn’t know it, benefits from my caring enough to watch her, to understand her, and thereby love her. My companions in life, though they do not always notice, get more than nothing from me when those nothings are good faith, listening, and humility. All of these nothings hold value where too many words have failed. The treasure of quiet, though less than a straw dog, produces more than tangible treasure. Fills the emptiness of desire. Lasts and fulfills in each one’s eternity of want.