Arriving at Coimbra

We arrive at Coimbra and see the great university, high on the hill. We have come many miles, are tired, and glad to arrive. We have walked through heat, wind, and rain. The University of Coimbra was founded by King Dinis in 1290. It is one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world. It represents the European tradition of scholarly learning, based on books. Lao tsu writes (chapter13): “Success is as dangerous as failure. Hope is as hollow as fear. What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure? Whether you go up the ladder or down it, your position is shaky. When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance. What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear? Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of the self. When we don’t see the self as self, what do we have to fear? See the world as your self. Have faith in the way things are. Love the world as your self, then you can care for all things.” I am an old guy arriving at Coimbra, the town with the Great University. The students wear medieval gowns to class and still do many old-time academic rituals as part of their student life. I have been trained in scholarly traditions but have also walked the Inner Way. How can a person forget the self? Merely hearing such advice has little effect. Lao tsu represents a tradition not based on books but derived from the Inner Way. Sit quietly, focusing the mind on the breath. Thoughts come and you let them go. Return you awareness to the breath. These thoughts are not the self. Where is the self? Experience the emptiness and everything falls onto place.

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