A Glimpse of Stephen’s New Book

He calls it The Second Book of the Tao. The book is now available online and in bookstores everywhere.

Here Stephen reads an excerpt from the book:

Chapter 8

How do I know that loving life
isn’t simply a delusion?
How do I know
that when we’re afraid of death
we aren’t like someone
who left home as a young child
and has forgotten the way back?
How do I know that the dead
aren’t so happy that they wonder
why they once clung to life?

You may dream that you’re at a banquet
and wake up to find yourself miserable.
You may dream that you’re sobbing your heart out
and wake up to find yourself at ease.
How, in the middle of a dream,
can you know that you’re actually dreaming?
In the middle of a dream, you may even
try to interpret the dream;
only after you wake up
do you realize that you were dreaming.

Someday there will be
a great awakening, when we know
that all this was one big dream.

And when I say that we’re dreaming,
of course I am dreaming too.

COMMENTARY

How do I know? Well, I don’t. So that settles that.

But loving life isn’t a problem. Preferring life to death: that’s what causes the confusion.

It could be (if there were such a thing as departing) that death is the return to a presence the wandering mind has long forgotten. It could be (if there were such a thing as separate beings) that the dead look upon our attachment to life like fond grandparents watching a teenager’s first tumultuous love affair. It could be, in fact, that the dead are nothing but their own delight, there (if there were such a thing as space) where they know even as they are known.

We are close to waking up when we dream that we are dreaming. All the imagined ups and downs, the hubbub and reversals of fortune, are what most people call life. But before and after, at the point where the end meets its beginning, there is only what has woken up from the cycle of waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep.

As for a “great awakening”: dream on. When do you think that that someday will come, after all? Isn’t it enough just to open your eyes, feel the pillow beneath your head, and see the hands of the alarm clock pointing to this very moment (as if there were such a thing as time)?


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