Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Tao Te Chin(g) of Skateboarding: A Guide to Stoke (Part 3)

See this post for introduction. 

This post contains 20 chapters of the Tao (I had been posting them in groups of 10).

The Master keeps his mind
always at one with the Stoke;
that is what gives his skating radiance.

The Stoke is ungraspable.
How can his mind, and skating, be at one with it?
Because he doesn't cling to ideas, tricks, or styles.

The Stoke is dark and unfathomable.
How can it make his skating radiant?
Because he lets it.

Since before time and space were,
this Stoke is.
It is beyond is and is not.
How do I know this is true?
I look inside skateboarding, and myself, and see.

If you want your skating to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
If you want to be reborn,
let yourself die.
If you want to be given everything,
give everything up.

The Master, by residing in the Stoke,
sets an example for all skaters.
Because he doesn't display himself,
people can see his light.
Because he has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words.
Because he doesn't know who he is,
people recognize themselves in him.
Because he has no goal in mind,
all of his skating succeeds.

When the ancient Masters said,
"If you want to be given everything,
give everything up,"
they weren't using empty phrases.
Only in being lived by the Stoke
can you be truly yourself.

When skating express yourself completely,
then keep quiet.
Be like the forces of nature:
when it blows, there is only wind;
when it rains, there is only rain;
when the clouds pass, the sun shines through.

If you open yourself to the Stoke,
you are at one with the Stoke,
and your skating can embody it completely.
If you open yourself to insight,
you are at one with insight
and you can use it completely.
If you open yourself to loss,
you are at one with loss
and you can accept it completely.

Open yourself to the Stoke,
then trust your natural responses,
and everything will roll into place.

He who stands on tiptoe
doesn't stand firm.
He who rushes ahead
doesn't go far.
He who tries to shine
dims his own light.
He who defines himself
can't know who he really is.
He who has power over others
can't empower himself.
He who clings to his own skating, and work
will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Stoke,
just skate, then let go.

There was something formless and perfect
before the First Push, and before the universe was born.
It is serene. Empty.
Solitary. Unchanging.
Infinite. Eternally present.
It is the mother of all skating.
For lack of a better name,
We call it the Stoke.

It flows through all things,
inside and outside, and returns
to the origin of all things.

The Stoke is great.
Transition is great.
Lines are great.
Skaters are great.
These are this four great powers.

Skaters follows the lines.
The lines follow the transition.
Transition follows the Stoke.
The Stoke follows only itself.

The small slappy is the root of the giant handrail.
The unmoved is the source of all movement.

Thus the Master skates all day
without leaving home.
However splendid the spot,
he stays serenely in himself.

Why should the lord of the country
flit about like a fool?
If you let your skating be blown to and fro,
you lose touch with your roots.
If you let restlessness move you,
you lose touch with the skater you are.

A good on-the-road skater has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
and keeps his mind open to what is.

Thus the Master is available to all people
and doesn't reject anyone.
He is ready to skate all terrain
and doesn't waste anything.
This is called embodying the light.

What is a stoked skater but an unstoked skater’s teacher?
What is an unstoked skater but a stoked skater’s job?
If you don't understand this, you will get lost,
however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.

Know ollies,
yet keep to the ground:
receive the world in your arms.
If you receive the world,
the Stoke will never leave you
and you will be like a little child, with his first board.

Know backside airs,
yet keep to the lip:
be a line for the world.
If you are a line for the world,
the Stoke will be strong inside you
and there will be nothing you can't do.

Know the smooth concrete of an expensive skate park,
yet keep to the natural crust spots:
accept the world as it is.
If you accept the world,
the Stoke will be luminous inside you
and you will return to your primal self.

The world is formed from the void,
like a deck from a block of wood.
The Master knows the utensils,
yet keeps to the block:
Thus he can use, and skate, all things.

Do you want to improve your skating?
I don't think it can be done.

Your skating is sacred.
It can't be improved.
If you tamper with it, you'll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you'll lose it.

There is a time for being ahead of others,
a time for being behind them;
a time for being in motion,
a time for being at rest;
a time for a vigorous session,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for trying tricks that are safe,
a time for trying tricks that bring danger.

The Master sees, and skates, things as they are,
without trying to control them.
He lets them roll their own way,
and resides at the center of the bearing’s circle. (see Chap 11)

Whoever relies on the Stoke in governing his skating
doesn't try to force tricks or style
or become angry if there is something he can’t do.
For every force there is a counter-force.
Anger and violence, even well intentioned,
always rebounds upon oneself.

The Master skates his session
and then stops.
He understands that skating
is forever out of control,
and that trying to dominate all tricks
goes against the current of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
he doesn't try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
he doesn't need others' approval.
Because he accepts himself,
the whole world accepts him.

Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.

Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn't wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?

He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.

The Stoke can't be perceived.
Smaller than an electron,
it contains uncountable galaxies.

If skaters could remain centered in the Tao,
all of skateboarding would be in harmony.
The skate-world would become a paradise.
All skaters would be at peace,
and the law would be written in their hearts.

When you have trick names and style forms,
know that they are provisional.
When you have institution trends
know where their functions should end.
Knowing when to stop,
you can avoid any danger.

All skating ends in the Stoke
as rivers flow into the sea.

Knowing other skaters is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering other’s style is strength;
mastering your own is true power.

If you realize that you have enough,
you are truly rich.
If you stay in the center
and embrace death with your whole heart,
your skating will endure forever.

The great Stoke flows everywhere.
All skaters are born from it,
yet it doesn't create them.
It pours itself into a session,
yet it makes no claim.
It nourishes infinite skateboarders,
yet it doesn't hold on to them.
Since it is merged with all skaters
and hidden in their hearts,
it can be called humble.
Since all skating vanishes into it
and it alone endures,
it can be called great.
It isn't aware of its greatness;
thus it is truly great.

He who is centered in the Stoke
can go skate where he wishes, without danger.
He perceives the universal harmony,
even amid great pain,
because he has found peace in his heart.

Music or the smell of good cooking
may make people stop and enjoy.
But words that point to the Stoke
seem monotonous and without flavor.
When you look for it, there is nothing to see.
When you listen for it, there is nothing to hear.
When you use it, it is inexhaustible.

If you want to shrink something,
you must first allow it to expand.
If you want to get rid of something,
you must first allow it to flourish.
If you want to take something,
you must first allow it to be given.
This is called the subtle perception
of the way things are.

Soft truck metal overcomes a hard curb.
Slow overcomes the fast.
Let your workings remain a mystery.
Just show people the results.

The Stoke never grinds anything,
yet through it all grinds are done.

If skaters could center themselves in it,
the whole skate-world would be transformed
by itself, in its natural rhythms.
Skaters would be content
with their simple, everyday lives,
in harmony, and free of desire.

When there is no desire,
all things are at peace.

The Master doesn't try to make his skating powerful;
thus his skating truly is powerful.
The ordinary skater keeps reaching for powerful skating;
thus his skating is never powerful enough.

The Master learns nothing,
yet he leaves nothing unlearned.
The ordinary skater is always learning things,
yet many more are left to learn.

The kind skater does something,
yet something remains undone.
The just skater does something,
and leaves many things to be done.
The moral skater does something,
and when no one responds
he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.

When the Stoke is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.

Therefore the Master concerns himself
with the depths and not the surface,
with the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality,
and lets all illusions go.

In harmony with the Stoke,
the spot is clear and spacious,
the obstacles are solid and full,
all skaters flourish together,
content with the way they are,
endlessly creating new stoked skaters,
endlessly renewing the session.

When man interferes with the Stoke,
the spots become filthy,
the obstacles become depleted,
the equilibrium crumbles,
skaters become extinct.

The Master views the parts with compassion,
because he understands the whole of skateboarding.
His constant practice is humility.
He doesn't glitter like a jewel
but lets himself be shaped by the Stoke,
as rugged and common as stone.

*This is the original text, unedited. I attempted to rewrite Chapter 31 substituting “weapons,” “enemies,” etc. with things like skate stoppers, wax, scooters, security guards, cops, and a whole host of other things. Nothing seemed to fit and/or feel right with the original meaning of the passage. Instead of omitting the entire chapter, I decided to just include it, unedited. Perhaps someday I’ll grasp a way to rewrite this one. Maybe a reader will show me The Way.