63 Riddles: Wisdom of the Way

What is a riddle?

A riddle is an answer to a question, and a question to an answer.

Each of the following statements is a riddle.

Read each line, and see if you can figure out the meanings for yourself.

Some you will “get” right away, other’s take more time.

At the end, there will be explanations.

Can you discover the Wisdom of the Way?

Good luck!

 

To live in the past is to make it the future.

Lose your anger and it has found you.

Run around and go nowhere.

Be a slave to freedom and you are its master.

Turn your back and face forward.

Erupt and you corrupt.

Climax and its over.

Put out and you inflame.

To be is a present.

Cross your legs and open your mind.

Think loudly and it is spoken.

Read creatively and it is written.

Force and you are weak.

Push back and you’ve given up.

Sit still and stand firm.

Pay attention and receive dividends.

Seize hold and let loose.

Launder and you’ve thrown in the towel.

Climb the ladder and the earth is taken out from under your feet.

Think clearly and speech is unnecessary.

Take off and you’ve quit.

Jump through hoops and face obstacles to reconsideration.

Adjust and remain steady.

Empty and be full.

Burden with light.

To foretell is to have not known.

The stream is consciousness.

Nonsense is a sense.

Bench and you are at rest.

Receive and you give back.

Turn inward and expand outward.

Move away and come close.

To put together is to take apart.

The period asks. The question marks.

Reach in and pull out.

Reach out and let go.

Pretense pretends, expense expends.

Clothes wear you.

To know that one does not know is to know.

To ask a question is to have found an answer.

To create is to destroy.

To not know is to know not.

Close off and open up.

To procreate is to conserve.

Prostrate and proclaim.

Listen intently and you can’t hear.

Profane with profundity.

Stand on shoulders and you are a burden.

The cart pulls the horse.

To destroy is to create.

To know not what is known is to know what is unknown.

Explaining is difficult, understanding easy.

Pray and you no longer ask.

Compound and lose.

Lost and found.

Hide and seek.

Protect and cover.

Recycle and use up.

Explain and confuse.

To know now is not to know then.

Believe and you don’t.

Believe you me.

Two are one. One is three.

 

We have come to the end of our riddles.

Have you discovered the Wisdom of the Way?

Here, this should help:

To live in the past is to make it the future.

When we do not let go of the things that have happened to us,
we bring those thoughts and feelings with us into the present
- we carry them as our baggage in life.
And as our present soon becomes our future,
we therefore make our “past” our “future.”

If the past was good, let us “live in the past”
so we may make it “our future.”
However, if the past was bad, let us move on.

 

Lose your anger and it has found you.

When we get upset, we are the ones who get hurt.
The tyrant becomes the victim of his own tyranny.

 

Run around and go nowhere.

Being busy only means something
if you are going in the right direction.

Sometimes, it is better to be still.

 

Be a slave to freedom and you are its master.

When we allow ourselves to be free,
we reap the benefits.

 

Turn your back and face forward.

By “turning our backs” to what has happened,
we orient ourselves to new possibilities.

 

Erupt and you corrupt.

By losing our temper, we lose peace.

 

Climax and its over.

When lust is mistaken for love, and the “moment” is gone,
there is nothing left to hold onto.

Reaching the highest point, we will begin to fall.
Dropping to the lowest, we are soon met with relief.

 

Put out and you inflame.

When we kick someone out (“put out”), we inflame them.
When we show disrespect, we stir up passions.

To be is a present.

To be in the moment is a gift (“present”).
To be alive is a present.
To be in the moment is to be truly alive.

 

Cross your legs and open your mind.

When we meditate (“crossing our legs”) and reflect on what we’ve done,
we may become aware (“enlightened”) by new thoughts and experiences.

By “crossing our legs,” we may put aside sensual desires for the moment,
as well as other short-term gratifications,
to think about our long-term goals, as well as other interests.

Think loudly and it is spoken.

When we act with intentionality (“think loudly”),
things “just happen.”

When we are free to think,
we can discuss without arguing.

 

Read creatively and it is written.

When we embrace our own experiences of the world,
we set in motion our own destiny.

 

Force and you are weak.

When we try to force others to do what we want them to do,
it shows that we are inherently weak,
for if we were “strong,”
they would want to follow us on their own accord.

Without force, show true strength.

 

Push back and you’ve given up.

When we resist (“push back”),
we “give up” on being patient.

However, sometimes when we resist
we “give up” on trying to live a life that’s not right for us.

 

Sit still and stand firm.

When we resist (“sit still”),
we show discipline and courage
- for example, in a “sit in.”

 

Pay attention and receive dividends.

When we care for others, we receive more in return
then when we try to buy people’s favor.

 

Seize hold and let loose.

“Seizing the moment,” we can have fun.

“Seizing hold” of what actually is,
we can free ourselves of what it’s not.

“Seizing hold” of ourselves,
we can let loose of false intentions.

 

Launder and you’ve throw in the towel.

When we allow our system to become corrupt (“money laundering”),
by washing (“laundering”) our hands of responsibility,
we have “thrown in the towel” on doing what is right.

 

Climb the ladder and the earth is taken out from under your feet.

When we climb “the ladder,” for example the “corporate ladder,”
we remove ourselves from our “native roots,” (“the earth”)
- our friends, family, past desires.

We serve “the ladder,” (corporate interests, making money, “the man”)
rather than “the earth.” (everyone’s best interest, fertility, humanity).

 

Think clearly and speech is unnecessary.

When we are comfortable around others,
we may enjoy “conversing” with them in silence.

When our thoughts are clear,
our minds aren’t filled with clutter.

When we are free to think as we’d like,
there may be no need for war or revolution.

The man who speaks the most,
does not know what to say.
The man who speaks the loudest,
does not listen to himself.

Take off and you’ve quit.

When we “take off” in our new pursuits,
we leave our old ones behind.

 

Jump through hoops and face obstacles to reconsideration.

The more “hoops we jump through” in life,
the more entrenched we become in that endeavor.
And while we may be making gains in that direction,
it is at the same time taking us farther away from whatever we were doing,
and so putting up “obstacles” in case we do reconsider.

 

Adjust and remain steady.

When we allow ourselves to accommodate others,
we are not disrupted, and so may remain “steady” on our paths.

 

Empty and be full.

When we clear our minds, we may be full of clarity.
When we are empty of war, we may be full of peace.
When we are free of toxins, we may be full of health.

When we drink (“empty”) a bottle of wine, we become it’s container.

When we empty our anger onto others, we are filled with shame.

 

Burden with light

“Burden” yourself with knowledge and insight (“light”).
“Burden” the world with goodness.

Take upon yourself the responsibility of living “light,”
for example, by reducing your use of fossil fuels and waste.

 

To foretell is to have not known.

When we think we know what lies ahead, we are claiming to “know.”
By claiming to “know,” this implies we have come to a realization.
Having come to a realization suggests we didn’t know before.
If we didn’t know before, how sure can we be of what we “know now?”

 

The stream is consciousness.

When we listen to our thoughts, we are most ourselves.

The stream, or river, is alive as well.
It has it’s own “guiding principles.” (it’s “consciousness”)

 

Nonsense is a sense.

All meaning is originally “meaningless.”
Before we find the words, we use our “nonsense”
to understand what is going on
- our intuition.

That which isn’t, is.

 

Bench and you are at rest.

When we bench (“work out”), we build ourselves up,
and so can “rest easy” knowing we have put in a good effort.

When we bench (“pray”), we have taken time out of our lives
of “working” to “rest.”

By being like “the bench,” which stands firm, we may be still.

 

Receive and you give back.

When we receive a gift graciously,
we “give back” through our appreciation.

When we “receive” rather than “block” incoming energy,
we can recycle it and “give it back.”

Turn inward and expand outward.

When we reflect on ourselves and our actions (“turn inward”)
we grow as a person (“expand outward”)
and so we see how our actions affect others,
and that we are all “connected.”

 

Move away and come close.

When we create distance from one thing,
it allows us to become closer to another.

Sometimes, we need our own space
in order to be able to appreciate what we have.

 

To put together is to take apart.

When we think of something new (“put together”)
we start to disassemble (“take apart”) our old belief systems.

When we put together two things,
for example, two white people,
we take apart something else, natural diversity.

 

The period asks. The question marks.

When we make a statement, we are actually asking a question.
The reason why we are saying something is to effect some change,
to gain reassurance in what we believe to be true.
If we already knew, we wouldn’t need to say anything at all.

And sometimes, our statements ask other people’s questions.

 

Reach in and pull out.

When we question life’s meaning (“reach in”),
we pull out answers and new meaning.

When we “reach in” to the affairs of others,
for example, another nation,
we “pull out” of our own isolation
- or independence.

 

Reach out and let go.

When we ask for help (“reach out”)
we realize that we all have our limitations,
and so “let go” of stubborn pride.

When we offer help (“reach out”),
we let go of selfishness.

 

Pretense pretends, expense expends.

When we pretend to be something we are not,
we only kid ourselves.
And when we take on “expenses” we don’t need,
we only destroy our own energy.

 

Clothes wear you.

When we pretend to be what we aren’t (our “clothes”),
they “wear us,” for we are serving their purposes.

When we wear a nike shirt,
we become a walking billboard
- an advertisement for who they are, rather than ourselves.

How we act, affects how people view those we are associated with
- friends and family, our communities (“our clothes”).

 

To know that one does not know is to know.

When we realize the limits of our knowledge,
that’s when we first start to really understand.
For example, as we become good at something,
we start to see how we are better than those around us.
But when we start getting really good,
and we become acquainted with others who are even better,
then we realize how much room there is still to improve.
And so, we “know” that we do “not know” all there is to be known.

 

To ask a question is to have found an answer.

When we ask a question, we do so for a reason.
We do so because something has stirred inside us.
Something has been awakened.
And we want to find out what it is.
Therefore, the answer to our question is already there
- waiting to be “found.”

To create is to destroy.

In order to create something new,
we must destroy something that already existed.
For example, when we draw on a piece of paper,
we “destroy” it’s blankness.

When we shout into the world,
we “destroy” the silence.
And when we “create” justice,
we destroy tyranny.

Likewise, when we “create” barriers,
we destroy relationships.

 

To not know is to know not.

When we don’t know what “something” is,
we know what it “isn’t.”
We know through experience,
but can’t put it into words.

 

Close off and open up.

When we close one chapter of our lives,
we are ready to open the next.

 

To procreate is to conserve.

When we give new life (“procreate”), we conserve (“maintain”)
the circle of existence.

“Pro” and “Con” are two aspects of the same reality,
to “create” and to “serve” are two dimensions of the same life.

 

Prostrate and proclaim.

When we humble ourselves, laying “prostrate” on the ground
we may proclaim the glory of the world,
as well as show our own virtue.

 

Listen intently, and you can’t hear.

When we are trying to find “the answer,”
we may miss what is actually being said
- or what the real question should be.

 

Profane with profundity.

If you are going to be critical of something (to “profane”),
do not do so out of meanness or spite,
but to pave the way for something new and more “profound.”

 

Stand on shoulders and you are a burden.

When we build ourselves on past traditions, institutions or prejudices,
we may unintentionally perpetuate bad habits.

On the other hand, when we stand on the shoulders “of giants,”
we “burden” the world with a reminder of what is really important.

 

The cart pulls the horse.

The horse pulls the cart not because it wants to,
but because the cart wants to be taken somewhere.
Therefore, the “cart” pulls the “horse.”

 

To destroy is to create.

When we destroy something, we pave the way
for something new to take its place.
When we destroy a tradition, we make room for innovation.
When we destroy honor, we create distrust.

To know not what is known is to know what is unknown.

When we “know” something, that means we’ve conceptualized it in our minds.
When we conceptualized something, we’ve turned it into “a thing.”
When we do so, we’ve actually corrupted our “pure experience” of it,
when it wasn’t “a thing” but simply an “experience.”

Therefore, when we “know not what is known,”
we are still able to “know” what remains “unknown.”
- the mystery.

 

Explaining is difficult, understanding easy.

To know something is different than to be able to teach it,
however, without understanding, there is nothing to teach.

There are things we understand but cannot explain
- even to ourselves.

 

Pray and you no longer ask.

When we offer a true prayer to the world,
we are ready to accept whatever is given.

Compound and lose.

When we “put together,” we lose mystery.
By “making things difficult,” we lose simplicity.

 

Lost and found.

When we lose “ourselves,” that which other people see,
we are able to find our true “selves,” that which we are.

When something is lost, for example, a job,
it opens up the possibility of finding something else
- or of being found by someone else.

When we lose something,
we “remember” what it meant to us.

 

Hide and seek.

When we remove ourselves from an oppressive environment (“hide”),
it gives us the freedom to “seek” a new life.

 

Protect and cover.

When we protect those who are good, we “cover” them.

However, when we “protect” those who are bad,
by serving as their “cover,”
we protect neither those who are good from them,
nor them from themselves.

 

Recycle and use up.

When we keep doing the same things (“recycling”),
whether its past ideas or fossil fuels,
we may soon use up whatever energy we have left.

On the other hand, when we make the most of what we have,
we can use our resources to take us in an “upward” direction.
Explain and confuse.

When we explain something to someone,
we allow them to see a new insight.
This insight will soon bring other questions to mind,
and so, when we “explain,” we “confuse.”

Also, when we attempt to “explain” to ourselves “some thing,”
we corrupted “what was” as a pure experience.

 

To know now is not to know then.

When we know “now,” this implies that we didn’t know before.
And just as we didn’t know before (“then”),
likewise, we may not know later (“then”).

And if we didn’t know before, or we didn’t know that we knew before,
and we don’t know if we will know later,
then how do we know that we really “know now?”

Believe and you don’t.

When we “believe” one thing, we “don’t” do something else.
For example, when we believe in taking care of the environment,
we don’t support harmful practices.
Also, when we formulate our belief into words,
and the words come to mean more than the experience,
we have lost the “true” belief to rigidity.

 

Believe you me.

When we “believe in another,” (“believe you me,”)
we are actually trusting our own judgment.
Believe, “you” are “me” (“believe, you me”)
- we are both a part of life.

 

Two are one. One is three.

When we look at two things and see them as separate,
for example, two people, we emphasize their individuality.
However, when we see them as being “one”
- a couple, we emphasize their unity.

When we see the world as “one,” we recognize
that everything participates in that which we call life.
But when we start thinking creatively, we see that
there are many things (“one is three”),
- for example, past, present, future.

The Wisdom of the Way

The Way has been known throughout time. The Buddha, sitting under the Bodhi tree, found the Way when Nirvana whispered in his ear. As karma danced through the trees, he detached himself from speech, in order to speak enlightened words, compassion and understanding.

The Way then found Nagarjuna, a man living in Southern India in the first century. Like the Greeks, he embraced its tetralemma, which says that for any statement, there are four possibilities: that it is true, that it is false, that it is both true and false, or that it is neither true nor false.

He saw the infinite abyss which separates what “seems to be” from what “really is.” He recognized that our language can only speak of “conventional truths,” not “ultimate truth.”

Like the Buddha, he saw the interconnectedness of all things, that every “thing” only exists because of everything else, and that the “cause” is only the cause because there is an “effect.” He saw the world as “creating itself.”

In China, Laozi too knew of the Way. He saw the bamboo tree bend to the wind, and so survive, while the mighty oak “stands strong” and is broken in half. He witnessed the river flow around the rock, rather than through it. He saw the sun give way to the moon, day to night, spring to fall.

He saw the world in harmony, the Dao, and that man too could live in peace, if only he could remember the knowledge he once knew.

He taught how to “act without acting,” we wu wei, and perseverance through gentleness. He spoke of passivity and emptiness, and the interplay of opposites, yin and yang, which exists in all things.

Practicioners of taiji also knew the Way. They understood that one extreme soon becomes its opposite. The strong fall, the weak rise, the empty are filled and the full become empty.

They explored these principles in embodiment, channeling their vital energies, chi, moving with intention, and contemplating the mystery.

Accommodating rather than opposing, they learned to redirect bad intentions, to make subtle adjustments in order to remain “still,” and that the greatest strength coming from within.

Zen Masters also spoke of the Way. Fed by the twin streams of Buddhism and Daoism, they experienced natural tranquility and plumbed the depths of their minds, meditating deeply on life and the meaning of existence.

These Masters taught koans, paradoxical statements pushing the limits of languages and thought. They strived for enlightenment, to overcome the preconceptions of our limiting minds.

There is a mountain. There isn’t a mountain. There is a mountain.

The great mystics too delighted in the Way. They dared to go beyond the surface, to see more than what had seemed. The Sufis went to the depths to taste the divine, while the Kabbalists went to the heights. “Turning inward,” they found the light of the world.

They knew the meaning of nonsense, and the sense in meaninglessness. They knew that words play games, and so too the world. They believed in the God who can dance, and the dance that is God.

The great philosophers also knew the Way. Cicero and Sun Tzu understood that the same principles which apply in one area of life, so too apply in another. They knew of the force that is weakness, in life and on the field of battle.

Socrates and Plato too found the mirror of the world in their own soul. They knew there is no justice without goodness, and of the temptations which we must all overcome. They knew of true friendship, that is the greatest gift of all.

Many of the great writers, poets and activists also knew the Way. With actions louder than words, and pens mightier than swords, Thoreau and Gandhi knew when “sitting still” meant to “stand strong.” They knew that nothing is more important than freedom.

There have been many who have seen the harmonious workings of reality, the nexus where “rationality” and “intuition” meet, the connection between life and death, the bond between man and woman, the ground where East meets West.

Many have known the Wisdom of the Way. And now, so do you. 

Welcome!