As always, the Tao is a well spring of truth and inspiration. Its complex simplicity can speak to your heart no matter what you are going through. After a chaotic day, I was trying to decide what to post. I flipped around in a few books for a while and then came back to the Tao. I immediately opened to this passage and a light went off in my head. Enjoy!
“The Great Way is easy,
yet people prefer the side paths.
Beware when things are out of balance.
Stay centered within the Tao.
When rich speculators prosper
while farmers lose their land;
when government officials spend money
on weapons instead of cures;
when the upper class is extravagant and
while the poor have nowhere to turn–
all this is robbery and chaos.
It is not in keeping with the Tao.” The Tao Te Ching, chapter 53.
I often look at my life and wonder why I always seem to choose the side paths. The Great Way is easy. It’s outlined for us, written on our hearts by God. Whispered to us each day by His loving Spirit. Yet we always seem to say, “Yeah, yeah. That’s all good. But what about what’s over here…No I hear you. Just hold on a sec while I check it out…” And then everything gets thrown out of balance. Part of me says it’s the experience of life. But I ask that part, aren’t we supposed to learn from experience? Why do we seem to get caught up and sidetracked more often than we follow the simple advice of our hearts? For me personally, a lot of it has to do with my thinking that I know what’s best for me. I can handle this. I don’t need God or the Tao or any cryptic sayings of old dead men to tell me what to do. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Only, those old dead men knew what they were talking about. Say what you want about human progress, but people really haven’t changed. All that’s changed is fashion and technology. People are much the same today as they were thousands of years ago. All that technology has done for us is added another level of distraction to an already distracted populace. Now, when the government spends money on weapons instead of cures and the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible, the people scroll past it on their social media apps, only stopping long enough to give it a cursory “like” or to comment about “how horrible it is!” But that’s as far as the outrage is likely to go. And this…all of this…is not in keeping with the Tao. It seems there’s no sense in showing all that robbery and chaos when there’s a cute picture of a kitten covered in toilet paper instead.
Another quote from Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao. I know there are several translations out there, but this is by far my favorite. Poetic and powerful all in one.
Ever thought to yourself, “There isn’t enough time in the day!” “I can’t get everything done!” Or maybe you’ve noticed all the other busy little bees buzzing around the streets and stores and thought something similar about them. Little do they (we) know, our lack of time stems from trying to do too much with our time. Enjoy!
The Master doesn’t try to be powerful;
thus he is truly powerful.
The ordinary man keeps reaching for power;
thus he never has enough.
The Master does nothing,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.
The kind man does something,
yet something remains undone.
The just man does something,
and leaves many things undone.
The moral man does something,
and when no one responds
he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.
When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.
Therefore the Master concerns himself
with the depths and not the surface,
with the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality
and lets all illusions go.
—-The Tao te Ching ch. 38.
The second to last stanza really speaks to me. I think this is where humanity is at. Caught in the throes of ritual because we’ve lost sight of God, or the Tao. You need only watch a few minutes of the news or scroll through the headlines to see that chaos has already begun. So for the love of God, focus on the fruit!
Death and life. Life and death. Like everything in our world, they are polar opposites. One extreme cannot exist without the other. As students in this realm of learning, we are inevitably drawn to these extremes. But extremes of any kind are a trap. They overwhelm us. Blind us to truth and eventually become stumbling blocks along our path. But there comes a time in every great epoch of history when men and women are called upon to choose a side. When faced with your great choice, will you have the integrity to become a disciple of life? Or will your need to survive override your humanity, turning you into a disciple of death?
When taxes are too high,
people go hungry.
When the government is too intrusive,
people lose their spirit.
Act for the people’s benefit.
Trust them and leave them alone.
Men are born soft and supple;
dead, they are stiff and hard.
Plants are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are dry and brittle.
Thus, whoever is stiff and inflexible
is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life.
The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.
—-The Tao te Ching Ch. 75 and 76
I think one of the underlying themes of the Tao follows closely with the adage, “The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Often, our intentions (even good ones) cloud or vision and judgement. They become a stumbling block instead of a building block. This is especially true on a societal level where a few peoples’ clouded judgement can literally collapse the whole system. Enjoy!!
“If you want to be a great leader,
you must learn to follow the Tao.
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
and the world will govern itself.
The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
The less self-reliant people will be.
Therefore the Master says:
I let go of the law,
and people become honest.
I let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
I let go of religion,
and people become serene.
I let go of all desire for the common good,
and the good becomes as common as grass.”
—-The Tao Te Ching Ch. 57
Corruption has been around as long as social structure. Selfishness, greed, ambition, hate, pride—all of these are part of the human condition. And all of these have gotten the world where it is today. The spiritual side of man has always understood the shortsightedness of the flesh. The spiritual side of man also understands that everything under the sun is temporary. Everything has it’s end. Nothing material lasts forever. If only we weren’t so obsessed with trying to force our debilitating institutions into eternal truths…
“If powerful men and women
could remain centered in the Tao,
all things would be in Harmony.
The world would become a paradise.
All the people would be at peace,
and the law would be written in their hearts.
When you have names and forms,
know that they are provisional.
When you have institutions,
know where their functions should end.
Knowing when to stop,
you can avoid any danger.
All things end in the Tao,
as a river flows into the sea.”—The Tao Te Ching Ch. 32
Ah, the Tao te Ching. Such a poetic and lovely piece of literature. So simple, yet infinitely complex. I’m partial to the Stephen Mitchell translation. It inspired me very early on in my Search and I attribute a lot of my “Enlightening Up” to the understandings it revealed to me. I hope it can offer some inspiration for you as well. Enjoy!
“Fame or integrity: Which is more important?
Money or happiness: which is more valuable?
Success or failure: which is more destructive?
If you look to others for fulfillment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If you happiness depends on money,
you will never be happy with yourself.
Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.” —-The Tao Te Ching. 44
Continuing from where I left off last time…
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
—- From the Book of Genesis. Verses 1 and 2.
See? The Hebrews saw it. They knew what was really up. What I like is the spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters. Just waiting…waiting…waiting…but waiting for what? Then BAM! “Then God said” God spoke. Sound…vibration. What the Upanishads calls OM.
The imperishable sound, is the seed of all that exists.
The past, the present, the future—all are but the unfolding of OM.
And whatever transcends the three realms of time, that indeed is the flowering of OM.
—–From the Mandukya Upanishad
The waters were sleeping. The Spirit of God was still. But they existed. They were. They are. Then God spoke. Suddenly the Spirit was jolted, it was energized. It became. The energy became vibration that became ripples on the Waters of Creation that became the universe.
In the beginning this universe was not.
There was just pure potential, from which was then born Being.
And from being was born the Self, which is known as perfect.
–From the Taittiriya Upanishad
IT’s all related, but no one wants to see that. To see that is to admit that we’ve been wrong this entire time. And well, you know how people are. People have never been wrong. People are always right, it’s the other people who have it all wrong. And if only those other people could just get it right like we have it right, then everything’ll be right and dandy. Just like in 1984 or “Brave New World.” That’s what modern fundamentalism is gearing towards. Of course, that’s what modern liberalism is gearing towards as well they’re just coming at it from a different angle. Don’t let them fool you, though. They’re both playing on the same team. One Nation over individualism. Dangerous grounds to be treading on. I don’t know what that was about. I hate politics and want nothing to do with them. Leave the politics to the wolves. That is all I’m going to say on the issue. That’s my two cents. Take it as you will.
And then there’s this:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
And all things were made through Him, and without him nothing was made that was made.
—-From the Gospel of John. Chapter One, Verses 1-3
Again with the Word. Again with creation stemming from it. Here’s a widely held misconception: The Word that the Gospel of John was referring to was the Bible. What kind of idiotic and off-base nonsense led people to assume this? Nowhere does it even hint to that. The first “Christian” Bible wasn’t even compiled until around the 4th century A.D. And don’t even get me started on the King James Bible. At best, defining the “Word of God” as a religious text, the comparisons are more easily assimilated with the Torah.
In the beginning, two thousand years before the Heaven and the earth, seven things were created: The Torah written with black fire on white fire, and lying in the lap of God
But that’s not all!
When God was about to create the world by his word, the twenty-two letters of the alphabet descended from the terrible and august crown of God whereon they were engraved with a pen of flaming fire. They stood round God and each said, “Create the world through me!”
——–Both excerpts from the Haggadah
Words made holy. Sounds inciting creation. There are secrets here.
Dig this: In the Beginning was God. God the Absolute. And God, for whatever reason, decided he wanted to create things (such are the benefits of being the Absolute). It was this decision, this first impulse (or Word or Logos or OM) of God that separated the physical from the spiritual. The impulse caused vibrations…caused sound…caused the universe to take shape. Energy was created and transferred into God’s desire. From nothing sprang something. However, this new impulse couldn’t exist within the realm of God. God can be nothing but absolute. He is One, He is Whole. He cannot be fractioned or portioned. Thus, God is set apart from physicality. God does not exist on physical levels. He manifests himself on them and through them, but will not exist there.
That’s why the existence of God can never be proven by science. Science and its interpretations are strictly limited to this “mundane” realm we are immersed in. Because how can you explain something that you really have no concept of? How can you prove the existence of something that doesn’t exist on this level of reality? Its easy to disregard the existence of God based solely on the devastating misunderstandings that Western culture and its new religion, Science, have deemed “Truth.” It’s right there in front of you. All you have to do to see it is look at it. Logic offers no understanding.
And it is impossible that any one can explain the passing out of one existence and the entering into a new existence, or the growth, increase and development of consciousness, independent of bodily form, feeling, perception and mental formations.
The world however is given to pleasure, delighted with pleasure, enchanted with pleasure. Verily such beings will hardly understand the law of conditionality, The Dependent Origination of everything; incomprehensible to them will also be the end of all formations, the forsaking of every substratum of rebirth, the fading away of craving, detachment, extinction, Nibbana.
——-From Majjhima-Nikaya (Buddhist Text)
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
—— From Tao Te Ching.
It comes about in an individual’s Personal Quest that they reach a threshold. This is the threshold to the Doorway of Realization. Stepping through is the most terrifying journey one can embark upon. For to step through that doorway is to commit one’s entire being to the fulfillment of their Legend. This means a person has staked their very existence on the outcome of their story. Success means personal enlightenment and contentment on an epic scale. Failure means oblivion. It is literally an all or nothing wager. However, the game is a long one and sometimes you’re up…and sometimes you aren’t. And it’s easy to cash in your chips and move on when you’re down and feeling the presence of Destiny hovering seductively over your shoulder urging you to bet even more…It takes a Seeking Fool to accept the advice of that seductive Aphrodite. It takes a True Believer to stare her in the face when you lose. To watch her eyes sparkle with laughter and joy as she asks, “Do you trust me?” And it takes a Legend to smile with laugher and joy right back at her and reply, “What the hell?” And how does a person go about accomplishing this Herculean feat?
The mark of a moderate man
Is freedom from his own ideas.
Tolerant like the sky,
All-pervading like sunlight,
Firm like the mountain
Supple like a tree in the wind,
He has no destination in view
And makes use of anything
Life happens to bring his way. Tao te Ching (59)
That’s IT. The Answer. In order to achieve your Personal Legend you must release yourself from the very obligation of it. Once you do this, you free yourself to move forward through that Doorway of Realization. Tolerant, all-pervading, firm and supple. You have no destination in view because you already know where you are going. Thus, anything life brings your way will ultimately further your journey toward your fulfillment. The next line the Tao gives is of the utmost importance:
Nothing is impossible for him. (59)
What a beautiful thing this is! To know that realization is tickling your fingertips…begging you grasp it. To know that your real journey will begin as soon as you take that first step!
However, dear Seeker, this does not mean you won’t meet with failure. You should understand that failure always signifies a fork in the road. It gives you a choice: You can let your failure discourage you enough to get up from the table and cash in your chips, feeling hurt and indignant at your loss. Jaded and blaming those who’ve wrong you on your Path. Or you can use the failure as an opportunity to realize one of your weaknesses. Weaknesses can always be turned into Strengths with enough will power and determination.
Failure is an opportunity.
If you blame someone else,
There is no end to the blame. Tao te Ching (79)
Simply: Take responsibility for yourself and get on with it!
Therefore the Master
Fulfills her own obligations
And corrects her own mistakes.
She does what she needs to do
And demands nothing of others. Tao te Ching (79)
An autobiography is so difficult to write because we possess no standards, no objective foundation, from which to judge ourselves. There is really no proper basis for comparison. I know that in many things I am not like others, but I do not know what I am really like. Man cannot compare himself with any other creature…I am a man…Like every other being I am a splinter of the infinite deity…only a mythical being has a range greater than man’s.
Carl Jung. “Memories, Dreams and Reflections.”
This is a letter or something. It’s to you, but not specifically to you. It’s to you and others. Mannerisms, like fractions of memory, become me. I am one with IT and one without IT. I am all IT ever needed and all IT ever feared. People scream and people yell and it makes no difference. They still wind up in hell. That’s the sadness. That’s what makes us think IT is hopeless. That IT has no real meaningbeyondthesocialconstructionweorchestrateforit. In IT’s honor do we pray now. I find it hard to write of spiritual matters. What’s the point of telling a story when there is no story to tell? I understand now. God must be experienced to be understood. It’s like the Tao says. The more you speak of it the less you understand. How do you explain the universe to people when they refuse to believe in anything past the big blue sky?
Check this out:
Mystery and Manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
–From the Tao Te Ching
But wait, there’s more!
There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born. It is serene. Empty. Solitary. Unchanging. Infinite. Eternally present. It is the mother of the universe. For lack of a better name, I call it the Tao. It flows through all things, inside and out and returns to the origin of all things.
–From the Tao Te Ching Ch. 25
You see, the thing is, is that I’ve been there. I’ve seen that darkness. Experienced it. Been consumed by it. It was terrifying and beautiful all at the same time. But sadly, no one can actually understand that by my meager verbal depictions. There are no words in existence that could accurately manifest that feeling in the human psyche. To understand you must experience. And to experience is to reject all preconceived notions of life, of reality, and most importantly, of yourself. When God begins to flip through the pages of your soul every page turned is a self annihilating exercise in humility. You literally feel naked in the most absolute sense of the word. Part of me wants to believe that is what Judgment feels like…what Adam and Eve felt like after they screwed it all up for the rest of us.