The Tao Te Doughnut

by Bill Stifler


The doughnut that is eaten is not the enduring
and unchanging Tao.  The doughnut that is eaten
is released from the emptiness that contains it.
Always with desire, the doughnut is eaten,
its deep mystery taken into the flesh,
but if it remains uneaten,
its outer fringe is all that we can see,
its essence lost in absence.
This is why we eat doughnuts,
to become the container of doughnuts,
to become the absence that is the essence
of the Tao Te Doughnut.

All in the world know the beauty of the doughnut, but in eating
the doughnut, they have the idea of what hunger is,
the eaten doughnut inspiring desire when all that remains
is emptiness.
So it is that the doughnut contains existence and non-existence,
each giving birth to the other, the doughnut uneaten, desirous;
the doughnut eaten, satisfaction generating desire generating
dissatisfaction at the doughnut’s absence.
This is why we eat doughnuts, take their softness into
the softness that is not our true self, but the corrupting
flesh.  The doughnut is the essence of corruption.
It lies heavy in the flesh, its absence tainting our fingers
until we lick them clean, remembering what has been lost
and found.
Therefore the sage eats doughnuts without thought, and
having eaten them, both gains and loses them.

The Tao is the emptiness of the doughnut middle; and in our
enjoyment of the doughnut, we must be on our guard
against all fullness. We should blunt desire; resist
the hand that reaches for another; grasp the emptiness
within the doughnut and draw it into our hearts;
become the doughnut, both circle without end, and
center without substance.



Copyright 2016, Bill Stifler

Bill Stifler is an Associate Professor of English and Humanities at Chattanooga State Community College. Originally from South-central Pennsylvania, Bill has lived in the Chattanooga area since 1972. Bill is also the webmaster for the Meacham Writers’ Workshop.


Prior Contents Next