Heron stands in the blue estuary,
Solitary, white, unmoving for hours.
A fish! Quick avian darting;
The prey is captured.
People always ask how to follow Tao. It is as easy and natural
as the heron standing in the water. The bird moves when it
must; it does not move when stillness is appropriate.
The secret of its serenity is a type of vigilance, a
contemplative state. The heron is not in mere dumbness or
sleep. It knows a lucid stillness. It stands unmoving in the
flow of the water. It gazes unperturbed and is aware. When
Tao brings it something that it needs, it seizes the opportunity
without hesitation or deliberation. Then it goes back to its
quiescence without disturbing itself or its surroundings.
Unless it found the right position in the water's flow and
remained patient, it would not have succeeded.
Actions in life can be reduced to two factors; positioning and
timing. If we are not in the right place at the right time, we
cannot possibly take advantage of what life has to offer us.
Almost anything is appropriate if an action is in accord with
the time and place. But we must be vigilant and prepared.
Even if the time and the place are right, we can still miss our
chance if we do not notice the moment, if we act inadequately,
or if we hamper ourselves with doubts and second thoughts.
When life presents an opportunity, we must be ready to sieze
it without hesitation or inhibition. Position is useless without
awareness. If we have both, we make no mistakes.
365 Tao Daily Meditations
Harper, San Francisco, 1992