Walking the Path

The function and role of the rainmaker is best described in a story. The concept of the rainmaker comes from a story from Jung and for those not familiar with the rainmaker, the following story is taken from the Tao of Psychology by Jean Shinoda Bolen and was told to Jung by Richard Wilhelm. It is the story of the rainmaker of Kiaochau:

There was great drought. For months there had not been a drop of rain and the situation became catastrophic. The Catholics made processions, the Protestants made prayers and the Chinese burned joss-stick, and shot off guns to frighten away the demons of the drought, but with no result. Finally the Chinese said, “We will fetch the rainmaker.”

And from another province a dried-up old man appeared. The only thing he had asked for was a quiet little house somewhere, and there he locked himself in for three days. On the fourth day the clouds gathered and there was a great snow storm at the time of the year when no snow was expected, an unusual amount, and the town was so full of rumors about the wonderful rainmaker that Richard Wihelm went to ask the man how he did it.

In true European fashion he said, “they call you the rainmaker, will you tell me how you made the snow?”

And the little Chinese man said, “I did not make the snow, I am not responsible.”

“But what have you done these three days?”

“Oh, I can explain that. I come from another country where things are in order. Here they are out of order, they are not as they should be by the ordinance of heaven. Therefore the whole country is not in Tao, and I also am not in the natural order of things because I am in a disordered country. So I had to wait three days until I was back in Tao and then naturally the rain came.”

— C.G.Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis pp 419-420

In many ways, I have taken this simple–and quite possibly made up story–to the heart of my spiritual practice. Even during bouts of harsh skepticism and atheism, the idea of “walking with the Tao” has always seemed true and natural to me. There’s a thin translation of the Tao te Ching I always keep around and re-read in times of distress. Not because of what it says, but because of what it doesn’t say. That is, after all, the way of the Tao.

In many ways, I think there is great benefit to this frame of mind. Whatever we bring with us, we tend to see reflected and manifested around us. That is the power of intention that I spoke of earlier. It isn’t that our minds can literally bend and warp the fabric of space and time, it’s just that our perceptions are flawed and strongly influenced by our state of mind. Time passes and we perceive a different thing. We rewind our memories and a new state of mind re-colors each memory. Do it enough, and you could drive yourself nuts from stress.

The zebra doesn’t have ulcers, folks.

But there is something more to be learned from this story. We should strive to become the rainmakers ourselves, not to relieve the spreading desertification of the world–though that would be a great accomplishment–and allow our way of life to continue. That wasn’t the sage’s goal or his effect. He didn’t heal the village’s dysfunction, but he left it to regain his own harmony. He didn’t cause the rain to fall, but made a way for the Tao to flow into the area. He didn’t teach the village folk to follow the Way in order to prevent future droughts; that was up to them.

For me, being a rainmaker means finding my center and striving to hold it, despite the “ten thousand things” seeking to alter and distract me. For you, it might mean something different. Regardless of your approach, strive for harmony within so that life without can follow.

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