Tao Te Ching Teachings: Ceaseless Thread

shazam-goddess

“Lingering forever like a ceaseless thread of silk

Draw upon her endlessness effortlessly”

Once the barrier we set up between ourselves and infinity is broken down, then the passageway of The Mysterious Female opens up. An infinite source of energy, it can be used to achieve anything. But make sure your intentions are good, and governed by integrity, otherwise that passageway will be closed to you soon enough.

Lao Tzu tells us that if we want to reach The Mysterious Female, we must have mastered inner effortlessness. I specify inner effortlessness to avoid confusion. A Taoist works hard in all his aims, but because he is at peace within, he does not get attached to them. He takes as long as he needs to take to do things, neither rushing, nor slacking, stopping when finished, so as not to overdo it. It is like picking up gossamer, or the subtle silk of a spider’s web; if you are anything less than gentle, you will break it. You have to touch it as though you were touching nothing at all.

It is the same with emptiness. If you want emptiness, and the peaceful power is conveys, you cannot aggressively force it come to you – that will only repel it further and further. Make yourself as gentle and receptive as diaphanous gossamer, and she will come to you naturally. Of course, being omnipresent and immanent, she hasn’t come to you at all. It is only that your new state of receptive awareness has enabled you to perceive it.

What you perceive, you welcome

What you ignore, you lose

You do not need to be a Taoist to appreciate the magnificence of the supreme female, for she manifests herself everywhere as Isis, Durga, Lakshmi, Sophia, Shekkinah, Mary, Spider Grandmother, and countless other goddesses that serve as avatars for the unrepresentable, unknowable, unimaginable Mysterious Female. There is a reason she is called mysterious, because no one can ever fathom her. Know that she is unknowable, and she will let you know everything about her.

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Tao Te Ching Commentary: Bellows of Heaven

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“The space between

Heaven and Earth

Is like a bellows

Empty yet inexhaustible

Each motion pouring out

More and more”

Moving away from impartiality – (which could be called the ‘emptiness of wisdom’) – Lao Tzu returns to the inherent emptiness of all things. Like a bellows, it is this inherent emptiness that enables the universe to create continually, always producing more and more. Flutes or saxophones are only able to make music because they are hollow inside. We are only able to speak and breathe thanks to the hollows and cavities within our bodies which enable resonance. If we were nothing but solid matter, we would die in an instant, destroyed by the rigidity of our own density. Even our bones are largely hollow, filled with spaces, and comb-like cavities. If they were nothing but pure calcium, and devoid of space, they would break as easily as a brittle branch, incapable of sustaining any shock or impact.

So, space leaves room for creation, like the blankness of a canvas, or the hollowness of a womb. Space is the essential mystery behind all creation. To try and be rid of it would be to pour cement into all your orifices. Death is density – life is space.

Tao Te Ching: 11

Tiger

Thirty spokes converge

In a single hub

A wheel’s use

Comes from its emptiness

A vessel is made from moulded clay

A vessel’s use

Comes from it emptiness

Cut out doors and windows

To make a room

A room’s use

Comes from its emptiness

A thing’s existence

Makes it valuable

But a thing’s emptiness

Makes it useful

Meditation: Seeing the Mountain

 

Open

When I last saw my father  and told him I had become a meditation teacher, he said:

“Meditation? So you teach people to sit still and do nothing? What good is that?”

In fact, Chinese mystics from the three jewels of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism have long referred to meditation as ‘sitting still doing nothing.” They recognized the immense treasure to be had from stillness and emptiness.

Our culture has always encouraged movement over stillness; excess over emptiness; intellectualism over transcendence; and opinions over observations. So, to most of us, emptiness and stillness sound like strange and frightening concepts. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we associate stillness and emptiness with death, and so avoid them as much as possible.

But they’re right. Meditation is death. We use it to kill the egoistic/selfish mind that is the source of all our suffering. Because people have identified themselves with their egos for so long, they think that, were they to be truly egoless, that would kill them. But only when we are free from our concepts of self, do we have the freedom to really become ourselves, without definitions, distinctions, attachments or delusions binding us, and keeping us restricted. As one translator of the Tao Te Ching has it:

“If you do not forget yourself,

Then how can you become yourself?”

Let me draw an example from my own life. Where I live in Wales, we are blessed with beautiful countryside, amazing mountains, and dramatic skylines.

On a bad day, when my ego mind is calling the shots, and I am lacking in inner peace or stillness, all of that natural beauty might as well not be there. I get encumbered by my thoughts, and, as a result, I am afflicted with perceptual tunnel vision. A phoenix could fly before me, or a dragon sprout from beneath my feet, but it would’t matter. Like an overflowing venue, my mind is already too packed with thoughts to allows anything else in. The dragons and phoenixes will have to wait.

However, if I am at my best, and have achieved inner peace and stillness within, then all is bliss. Not only am I able to relish these mountains and landscapes in all their beauty and wonder, I feel them, I become them. Such is the state of receptivity thanks to my emptiness that I can perceive everyone and everything with the utmost perceptivity. Boundaries between self and not-self disappear. All is unified. All is one.

So, emptiness is the difference between seeing the mountain and being the mountain. Try as you might, you won’t be able to eat one on a full stomach – how much less so a full mind!