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!
One of my favorite passages from the Tao. Enjoy!
“A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever he wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
and keeps his mind open to what is.
Thus the Master is available to all people
and rejects no one.
He is ready to use all situations
and doesn’t waste anything.
This is called embodying the light.
What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man’s job?
If you don’t understand this, you will get lost,
however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.”—-The Tao Te Ching Ch. 27
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
I think, maybe…but what if…this weren’t where it ends but where it begins…or ends or begins or ends or begins… What if it were a cyclical evolution—a grand spark of hope in the minds of fractured men called “great thinkers.” But this time…something enigmatic like when a glance becomes a symphony of whispers. Might as well turn it into something legendary. This sad race needs new lullabies to sing to its restless young. Why can’t you? Why can’t I…become a Lullaby?
I swear that somewhere underground is the real heart and soul of dark shadows back from the brink in new shades of gray. Maybe the importance lies in only feeling luscious. Wow, to think it could be as simple as that. But, why can’t it be? It’s just as easy to shatter (we all do it. The difference is we don’t fucking need all the king’s horses and his men. We have drugs to put us back together again.) Is there something more? Some exquisite level where a new energy becomes the indulgence of excited essences.
“How was it in the dream? You know…” In situations such as these one cannot afford a moment’s hesitation. In a night’s tale Scheherazade saved a life. In a thousand, she became a queen. I’m not exactly sure what that meant, I realize this now. But I think it has something to do with the Song of Solomon. Such an eloquent example of erotic love. In that moment, I see it now, it’s the kind of purity found when two lips meet. It tastes like a secret conversation under moonlight’s canopy, like an Italian love song and candlelit tables with checkered cloths.
That is my final answer to that timeless question. If I had the words to properly describe it, I wouldn’t be a poet, I would be a god. And sadly, some things are not for the likes of Cain’s children (we are an unfortunate lot of magnificent souls). We are not the product of history’s mistakes! We just couldn’t make our secret holy. So fuck them. Who needs their pompous god? I choose to worship in the temple of Surprising Truths.
Surprising Truth Number One: You know that place you used to go as a kid? That place where everything was perfect, there was no evil or wrong, just innocent holy moments. That place that dried your tears with the gentle brush of Gaia’s fingers. That’s the way it felt (the way it feels).
If it’s not okay, then what can it possibly be? There’s no time for the fine points of necessity and greed. There is only time for misty remembrances of things like the Rat Pack and all the rest of the good old days that somehow slipped out of our desperate grasp and plummeted into the oblivion of pop culture. I don’t want to be oblivious. I don’t want to be pop. I don’t even want to be culture. I just want to be an idea inside the memorial of the three rational questions (an ideal slightly to the left of a shifty eyed paperclip that knows too much for its own good.). If it’s not so predictable then what’s the harm? The true catastrophe rising is the realization that there are no conundrums to explore. So sing to the Tao, not in worship, but more in acknowledgement that it loves you (even if it doesn’t know you. [Like Jesus Christ’s private collection of souls he keeps hidden deep in his sock drawer.]).
I hate those eyes that glare at you tragically in black and white. Theirs is an infinite stare of passive longing. These are not the old days. The new era has begun, it always does. Why fight it? We can’t. The Flow carries us along regardless (that’s the reason we love it almost like blurry smiles in a peaceful opus). I wish I were Plato. I want to understand perfection, to know what it is to be at that pinnacle of the grandest hope of all mankind (for most of us spend our lives knowing imperfection but never understanding it. At least I can say I’ve progressed that much farther.). Embraces are warm and reminiscent of delicious summer breezes.
I wish I could see the light. So, I wrote this thing. You know, more like a prayer than
a hymn (so the shining emeralds tell me. But who ever believes them?). Sometimes I wish that life were a moonlight serenade underneath windows of lovely and elegant ladies. Sometimes I wish it could be just like (right now I’m having an 80’s flashback. Lots of red leather and bad haircuts. Have I found a window into hell?) it was that time that I looked over that cliff and my body told me exactly what it would feel like to fall. Who am I writing this to? What am I trying to say? I think you know. You know exactly who I’m writing this to. Your cleverness is truly a magnificent wonder. I think we’re safe, though. The sky still hasn’t fallen. (And fuck that little light bulb that appears above the heads of things when they are able to extract an idea from their junk food dependent and lazy brains. I really, really hate that fucking light bulb.).
It is popular belief that God is in everything. That every aspect of Creation has stemmed from God in his infinite wisdom. Thus, Creation could be seen as a reflection of God, Itself. Everything in Creation, containing its own divine spark, is like a divine Fractal. As above so below. Everything in Creation is, essentially, another aspect of God. Another tiny piece of It, so to speak.
So, Creation, being a reflection of God, shattered into countless pieces and agitated the Abyss into creating God in a physical form. Hence the Universe. Now consider each and every aspect of the universe. If Creation is God looking at His own reflection and trying to understand Himself, then each and every part of Creation, though it appears separate and individual, is in reality, a part of the Greater Whole. Thus, not only are people part of the Mind of God, but the experiences those people are having and the thoughts and emotions tied to those experiences are also part of that Mind. But the rabbit hole doesn’t stop there. The background and settings to those experiences and everything happening outside of them to everything and everybody else encompasses that Mind as well. Each and every thing in Creation from the Universe as a whole down to the tiniest quark is a piece of the reflection of the Mind of God. Warning:
Trying to grasp that concept may cause vertigo and headaches.
So the question remains, “How do we humans understand that Mind? How do we see the Greater Whole for what it is?” The answer is simple: We don’t. It’s like asking a figure in a painting to step outside the painting and describe it. Impossible. The figure would physically have to step outside his own existence. The paradox lies in the fact that as far as the figure is concerned, outside the frame, the painting doesn’t exist. And if the painting doesn’t exist, then neither does the figure vainly attempting to explain it all. He is as much a part of the painting as the trees and sky and grass and mountains set as his backdrop.
We cannot step outside the boundaries of Creation. It is our painting. The best we can do is to examine the painting from the inside hoping to glean some understanding of the artist on the outside. This examination gave us the polar twins religion and science. The difference being that religion gives credit to the artist for his masterpiece and science staunchly insists that the masterpiece spontaneously sprang into being of its own volition. Something akin to that picture of the hand drawing itself on paper.
So we return to humanity’s vain folly. In order to understand the Mind of God, we would have to step outside the painting. We would literally have to see every last person, place, thing or idea in the universe AT ONCE and AS ONE. Only then would we “understand the meaning of it all”. Unfortunately the very notion is impossible for the human mind to truly fathom, much less understand.
This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist and we can’t glimpse His Works from time to time. It doesn’t mean that we should quit seeking spiritual truths, enlightenment, salvation or whatever one may prefer to call it. It means that we, as figures in this beautiful masterpiece, must realize and accept what we are. Whatever glimpses of the Great Whole we are allowed to see are only that: glimpses of something much larger than ourselves. Something our limited perceptions can never understand.
See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.
“`The Tao Te Ching