Kuala Tahan, Malaysia – she acts without doing

We are going to Kuala Tahan, Malaysia, the entrance to Taman Negara, the oldest rainforest in the world. We take a bus and then a river boat.

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Lao tsu (Chapter 2, Tao te Ching), notes the interdependence between opposites: good-bad, rich-poor, high-low, beautiful-ugly, powerful-powerless, existence-non-existance.

Without the bad, there is no good. Without non-existence, there is no existence.

What are the implications of this? How should the Master respond to this knowledge? Who is the Master?

The Master is the one you aspire to be — the master of the self.

Lao tsu writes:

“Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.”

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We are on an arduous journey — first by bus from Kuala Lumpur, then a three-hour boat ride to Kuala Tahan.

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The river is shallow and sometimes the boat is grounded. We must get out to pull the boat free.

How can the Master act without doing?

Lao tsu tells of the “way,” the inner journey, the process of meditation. By doing nothing, the meditator allows the muddy water of the mind to settle. By doing nothing, the Master can see clearly.

Thoughts come and she lets them come. Thoughts go and she lets them go.

We see the water buffalo.

People struggle to change the circumstances around them. The Master does nothing, taking an inner journey so that she can see.

We stay at the Nusa Village — up-river from the Kuala Tahan. Each day, we take a boat through the rapids on its way to the park entrance.

I would not recommend the Nusa Village (there are cheaper and better places in Kuala Tahan) but it was interesting to live in the jungle.

We hike in the jungle.

She teaches without saying anything. How can this be?

Through meditation you come to see what is going on inside yourself — you become an example of one who is aware. You teach without words.


The trail involves steep climbs and descents.

Things arise and she lets them come.

We walk by the river.

Things disappear and she lets them go.

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The floating restaurants of Kuala Taman.

She has but doesn’t possess, acts but doesn’t expect.

Lao tsu writes for people who lived many centuries in the past. You can figure out how to become your own master in today’s environment. It is not a matter of belief — meditation is a process. The secret is practice.


When her work is done, she forgets it.

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