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Book of the Week

Book of the Week: The Path

March 28, 2017

Book of the Week: The Path

The Path offers a profound guide to living well through making small changes to everyday routines. Covering a range of subjects, from decision-making to relationships, as well as blending ancient Chinese philosophy with modern life advice - it's a brilliantly inspiring read.

Extract from the book:

To wear yourself out to unify everything without understanding that they are the same—this is called “three in the morning.” What do I mean by that? A monkey trainer was handing out nuts, saying, “You get three in the morning, and four at night.” The monkeys were enraged. So he said, “All right, then, you get four in the morning and three at night.” The monkeys were thrilled. There was no difference between name and substance, but their happiness and anger were put into play. He simply shifted with them. This is how the sage harmonizes by using “right” and “wrong”—yet rests on Heaven’s wheel. This is called proceeding on two paths.

"turns conventional wisdom on its head"

By now you probably understand how our conscious mind trips us up by clinging to arbitrary, distracting, and useless categories, as shown in the monkey example. There is no overall difference between “three in the morning and four at night” or its opposite, except in how we perceive them.

A radical shift in perspective allows us to view the world in the way that the Zhuangzi advocates. This is why it so often turns conventional wisdom on its head: in one story, a grievously disabled man lives his whole life begging for food. He is seen as pathetic, and yet he lives a long time, whereas other young men around him are conscripted into war. So who is the lucky one here?

Read the full extract on Penguin

  • The Path by Michael Puett
    The Path

    The Path is in part a pleasing debunking of fashionable self-help disciplines... I can testify that Puett is one of the nicest people - if not the nicest person - I have ever interviewed: attentive, generous and patient. Tim Dowling, Guardian

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