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FREEDOM FRIDAY: The true man


You can listen to the podcast version of this episode on Apple, Spotify, or this audio player:


In today’s episode, Curt Mercadante marks his 47th birthday by sharing "The True Man," from The Way of Chuang-Tzu by Thomas Merton.

The True Man

What is meant by a “true man”?

The true men of old were not afraid

When they stood alone in their views.

No great exploits. No plans.

If they failed, no sorrow.

No self-congratulation in success.

They scaled cliffs, never dizzy,

Plunged in water, never wet,

Walked through fire and were not burnt.

Thus their knowledge reached all the way

To Tao.

The true men of old

Slept without dreams,

Woke without worries.

Their food was plain.

They breathed deep.

True men breathe from their heels.

Others breathe with their gullets,

Half-strangled. In dispute

They heave up arguments

Like vomit.

Where the fountains of passion

Lie deep

The heavenly springs

Are soon dry.

The true men of old

Knew no lust for life,

No dread of death.

Their entrance was without gladness,

Their exit, yonder,

Without resistance.

Easy come, easy go.

They did not forget where from,

Nor ask where to,

Nor drive grimly forward

Fighting their way through life.

They took life as it came, gladly;

Took death as it came, without care;

And went away, yonder,


They had no mind to fight Tao.

They did not try, by their own contriving,

To help Tao along.

These are the ones we call true men.

Minds free, thoughts gone

Brows clear, faces serene.

Were they cool? Only cool as autumn.

Were they hot? No hotter than spring.

All that came out of them

Came quiet, like the four seasons.


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