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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Stories

Question: Derek, I thought I was quite knowledgeable about Zen and Tao stories, but your new book contains quite a few stories I haven't come across before. Can you tell me where you get these stories?

Answer: They all come from the storytelling tradition of Chinese culture. Some of the stories are recorded in ancient texts and some are not, but all are told by teachers and storytellers from one generation to the next. There are literally thousands of such stories, but only some of them - a small fraction - have crossed the cultural divide. When such stories come into the West, they are often distorted in the retelling; sometimes they are altered on purpose in order to appeal to the Western audience. You may have already come across such stories in web sites and forwarded e-mails.

My primary purpose in writing The Tao of Daily Life is to bring across more of these ancient stories, especially the ones that are practically unknown in the West. For the stories that have already crossed over, I go back to the original source in order to create the most accurate version of the classic, with no distortions or alterations. The dharma talks that follow the stories are also written to be as authentic as possible. I want the reader of this book to experience the stories and teachings in exactly the same way that a Chinese person would - feeling the same sense of joy and inspiration, because the Tao transcends the division between East and West. Indeed, the Tao speaks to the core that is common to all humanity, for within the it we are all united in oneness... regardless of cultural background!

2 comments:

Michelle said...

That is exactly the joy and perfection of these stories....they cross all boundaries and are very enjoyable while also being completely accessible cross-culturally as teaching stories. The selection of stories is excellent. :-)

Derek said...

Michelle, your comment reminds me that at the end of the day, we are all human beings regardless of background or ethnicity. Just as Tai Chi and Qigong benefit Easterners and Westerners alike, I believe that these ancient stories passed down for generations in China will be just as cherished by English speakers everywhere - whether they happen to be Chinese or not!