Here is an excerpt from The Questioning Way adopted for posting here on the blog…….
The Chinese language has a very helpful and insightful word that combines the concepts of individuality, usefulness and purpose. The word is “te” (pronounced “dă”). Te is most often translated as “virtue” or “power.” To help understand the connection between virtue, power, and individuality, think of a hawk. The natural behavior such a bird is to soar on thermals, conserving its energy while it hunts for prey with acute eyesight. It does this by means of the way it is made. So, the special virtue, or te, of a hawk is its ability to hunt and lies in its wings, eyes, and claws. Te is the innate, individual power in things that allows them to be the best at what they are best at.
Te appears in two ways— as an aspect of all nature together and as expressed by the unique mixture of abilities we each possess. In the latter context, it’s a very singular attribute that results in the individuality with which we each are born. We gain it without forethought or contriving to attain it. We have it because we are who we are. Likewise, te, as expressed by the world, is intrinsic to its nature. The way of the world follows a certain path only because that’s how things happened to fall into place. These two aspects are simply different faces of the same thing. Te in nature points to the idea that there is life on earth only because part of the virtue of of our little blue planet is that it facilitates life on it to exist. In other words the virtue of our planet is that it’s good for life as we know it. It is a common fallacy of western culture to view nature as hostile. The fact of the matter is if the earth and the universe were really hostile to living creatures none of us would have ever lived in the first place.
Te in each of us is spontaneous and instinctive, without being compulsive or impulsive. Likewise, te is passion and persistence, but never unbalanced zeal or rabid fanaticism. When someone realizes his te, his pattern of action is easily distinguished from impulsive or self-destructive behavior, such as the betting of a habitual gambler or the compulsive nature of consumers when purchasing such things as antibacterial cleaning supplies to sooth our exaggerated fear of germs.
Te means that there is something that each and every one of us will be good at doing. It means that each and every one of us has a potential purpose to life that is built into him or her from birth. It means that until you find te, much of your life will be written as the story of your search for it. Some of us are fortunate to learn what we ought to do with our lives at a very early age. These are the prodigies and those fascinated by a single group of related subjects from early childhood. Others search their whole lives and never really discover what they should be doing. When someone finds their virtue, they are much better able to become someone who can lead a happy, fulfilling life that is beneficial and useful both for himself and the world around him as well. You can begin to look for your own virtue by looking at what in life fascinates you the most. If you haven’t yet discovered your virtue, remember that your mind and body have already been trying to point you in that direction all of your life. Look at what you do each day that you enjoy the most, because invariably, each of us most loves to do whatever it is that they do most naturally. Remember that your virtue can be anything—not just what might lead to a career that will make you the most money. I have a friend who once told me that all that she was good at doing was talking and listening. After discussing it for a while, we decided that the gift of gab was a pretty good virtue to have because it could lead to any number of useful careers, such as a therapist, a bartender, a talk show host, an announcer, an auctioneer, or any other career that involved a great deal of social interaction. Now, some of these careers might lead to a lot of money; others, not so much, but all of them could be very fulfilling for someone who likes to talk. When someone figures out his virtue and points his life in that direction, he is usually so good at doing whatever it is that he is meant to be doing that he can turn it into a living because te is always beneficial to you and the world around you. All the same, remember the point of te in your life is not money, it’s happiness, fulfillment, and usefulness.