TAO TE CHING 67

mon

Everyone Under Heaven

Says my Tao is great

And unlike anything else

It is great

Because it is unlike anything else

And beyond description and distinction

If it were like other things

And could be described

How quickly it would vanish

And become small!

I have three treasures

That I cherish and preserve:

One is the love of a mother

That knows no bounds

The second is moderation

The third is not presuming

To be foremost under Heaven

Love empowers one to be fearless

Moderation enables one to be generous

Not presuming to be first in the world

Enables one to be a perfect and lasting vessel

Nowadays, people forsake love

Yet expect to be fearless

Discard moderation

And thus cannot give

Refuse to be humble

And yet demand to lead

Such things are certainly doomed

But if you love deeply

You can fight and overcome anything

Defend through this love

And you will be strength itself

Heaven rescues and saves the people

By using unconditional love to protect them

 

TAO TE CHING 56

funny

Those who know do not speak

Those who speak do not know

Seal your openings

Shut your gates

Temper your sharpness

Unravel your tangles

Blend your light

With the dust of the world

This is called The Secret of Identity

The Hidden Union

The Mystery of Sameness

It cannot be attained

Yet its love is always with us

It cannot be possessed

Yet is never distant

It cannot be owned

Yet greatly enriches

It cannot be gained

And yet is never lost

It offers no benefits

Yet always exalts us

It cannot be gained

Yet always humbles us

Thus it is the treasure

Of All Below Heaven

Tao Te Ching Teachings: Speaking the Truth

lady tiger

“The best words to speak are the truth”

Truth is the only thing we should allow to lead our lives. But how often does it just seem like too much of a tall order? How often are we too cowardly or closed off to say what we really mean, instead just resorting to those convenient stock phrases, the artillery of etiquette? Telling people what they want to hear?

But, if we only tell people what they want to hear, and only hear what we want others to say, then the whole world will be clouded by delusion. Somewhere along the line, someone has to give, take the lead, and just tell the raw, honest truth.

This takes practice. It takes a lot of deprogramming – getting rid of all the fear, adherence to social norms, and self-repression that has allowed us to live and speak dishonestly for so long. But, once we get more confident and certain of ourselves, the truth will flow more readily. We have to be true to ourselves before we can be true to others. Then the internal will naturally be reflected in the external.

What’s the best way to speak the truth? Be direct, forthright, gentle and equanimous. Tell the truth as soon as it becomes too clear. Speak too rashly, and you might be telling a lie, inadvertently formulated on ephemeral feelings that passed as quickly as they arose. Speak too late, and the damage may be too entrenched to reverse.

We are often frightened of telling the truth, because we’re afraid of how people might respond. But, I can vouch from my own experience, that when you learn to tell the truth concisely and without artificiality, your communication and communion with others will become infinitely more effective and intimate. The people you speak to will be so relieved to hear the truth for once, that you will be doing them a greater kindness than all the false words in the world combined.

The Bottomless Heart

redon_birth_of_venus

“The best hearts and minds are fathomlessly deep”

Most people have a limited conception of themselves. How we describe and conceive of ourselves often shackles us, preventing us from being so much more than we tepidly imagined. Whenever we have reached the limits of our mind, we must always know there is more; whenever we reach the bottom of our heart, we must realize it carries on without end.

People cling to tiny hearts and minds because infinity scares them. Not comprehending the patterns of Heaven, it all appears chaotic to them; a frightening morass, beyond comprehension. Thus, they dwell in confined personalities, restrictive social structures, and rigid classifications, because they are too afraid to confront the majestic spontaneity of the boundless.

The Wayfarer is not like this. He does not shirk things just because they do not give up their secrets readily. He is drawn to the fathomless like a magnet, for that is where he makes his home. Always approaching what he does not understand, and venturing into places he has never known, he consistently expands the purview of his heart/mind until it is without limits. With such depth within him, he is able to see that same depth within everything. What to others seems ordinary and prosaic, to him openly confides the enigmatic secrets of life. Being fathomless, he is a mystery to all around him. Incapable of being comprehended by narrower men, he cannot be corrupted, exploited, or understood. Only those who follow the Way will understand.

How can we cultivate minds/hearts of fathomless depth ourselves?

  • Meditate
  • Overcome attachment to material things, materialistic viewpoints and assumptions
  • Take emptiness as the foundation of your mind. Do not presume to know anything until you have investigated it carefully; and even then, proceed with caution
  • Be impartial – reject attachment to preferences – show kindness and compassion to all beings without exception
  • Refuse to let fear prevent you from seeking the truth. Losing boundaries and definitions is always scary –you must learn to love loss

Tao Te Ching Teachings: Water

water course

“It greatly benefits The Ten Thousand Things”

How does water benefit the ten thousand things? Scientists believe that water is one of essential components required in the gestation of life. Biologists believe that the very first physical organisms on this planet would have arisen from bodies of water. Whilst I believe there are plenty of organisms throughout the universe that are not dependent upon water for their survival, that it is integral to the proliferation of physical beings on our own planet (and dimension) is without question.

Most of us are composed largely of water. We need to drink and consume it on a regular basis just so we are able to function. Wherever there is water on planet – whether in the form of pools, rivers, the ocean, or rainfall – there is sure to be a hyper-abundance of life. A large percentage of the air we breathe comes not just from trees – which also need water to survive – but from the infinitesimal phytoplankton that resides in the world’s watercourses. Truly, water enriches and sustains the lives of all beings.

The Master of the Way also seeks to nourish and benefit all beings. But, rather than giving them water, he guides them back to the wateriness of the Tao. If water is the basic building block of life, then The Way is the basic building block of eternal life. It is the substance of everything. The Taoist guides people away from attachment to their physical forms, and helps them return instead to this.

 

TAO TE CHING 43

branch

The most flexible thing below Heaven

Gallopingly overrides

The most rigid thing below Heaven

That which has no form

Penetrates

That which has no space

Through this I perceive

The benefit of non-action

Wordlessly teaching

Non-action’s benefit

Few below Heaven can master it

Tao Te Ching Teachings: The Supreme Goodness of Water

dragon water

“Supreme goodness is like water”

Supreme goodness is like water. Here, the word shan refers not just to moral goodness and virtue, but supreme excellence in all its manifestations – excellence in wisdom, excellence in action, excellence in being.

Why do we this say this manifold excellence is like water? Water is fluid, flexible, yielding, and unconquerable. It is immensely powerful because it can adapt to every possible circumstance. If it gets too cold, it simply transforms itself into ice. If it gets too hot, it transforms itself into steam. Nothing can kill it – it just keeps changing form.

The reason water can keep changing its form is because it is essentially formless. Its form is determined by what is around it. Put it in a cup, and it will be cup-shaped. Put it in a ravine, and it will be river-shaped. It needs no form of its own, because it harmonizes with everything around it, taking other beings as its outline, instead of imposing itself upon others.

The sage strives to mirror these qualities. Fluid and flexible too, he adapts to every situation. When faced with untoward events, he simply transforms himself to suit the situation. Because he is selfless, he has no fixed personality, and can take on whatever personality is most appropriate to his needs. If he needs to be wise, he will be wise. If he needs to be silly, he will be silly. If it were better that he remain unseen, he will remain unknown. Like a great actor, he puts on the right mask to fit the mood.

This might sound insincere to some. Isn’t it wrong to pretend to be something you’re not? But, the sage has renounced his identity, so he can have any identity he likes. Knowing that he is part of the eternal, there is nothing he is not. But, in the same way as the celestial design, however he manifests himself, he does not do so out of self-interest, or with personal profit in mind – only with the ideal of helping enlighten other beings. Thus, any act that helps point beings towards the truth is a compassionate act, no matter how strange it may see on the surface.

TAO TE CHING 39

chinese-painting-crane-CR4111

The Ancient’s attainment of Unity –

Heaven attaining Unity became clear

Earth receiving Unity became peaceful

Spirits obtaining Unity became divine

Valleys gaining Unity became full

The Myriad Beings receiving Unity became vibrant

Rulers attaining Unity,

Thereby purified

All Below Heaven

Without the cause of it all, I fear –

Clarityless – Heaven would crack

Peaceless – Earth would explode

Spiritually-deprived – Gods would perish

Empty of fullness – Valleys end

Life-drained – The Myriad Beings die

Ignoble and corrupt

Rulers stumble and fall

Therefore,

Nobility is rooted in humility

High is founded on low

Accordingly rulers call themselves:

“Orphaned, bereft, desolate!”

Is this not rooted in humility?

Is it not therefore

That The Highest counts carriages

As no carriages at all

Not desiring the twinkle of priceless gems

Any more than an avalanche of rocks?

Tao Te Ching Teachings: Eternal No Self

09-20-MysticalEncounter

“Heaven is eternal

Earth is ancient

The reason Heaven and Earth

Endure everlastingly

Is because they do not exist for themselves

Thus are they able

To live forever”

That which has a self soon comes to an end. That which has no self never comes to an end. A self is defined by its limitations. What makes me appear to be different from you are my limiting factors: possessing one hair colour instead of another; being a particular height instead of another. What makes you appear to be different from me are your own limiting factors – your size, your smell, your shape, your concerns. In both cases, we are defined by what we are not –   a cookie cutter imprinting our individuating boundaries.

What makes Heaven and earth different (as spiritual principles, rather than just physical realities) is that they are defined by their lack of attributes. Having no attributes, they embrace all attributes – this is the attributeless attribute. Having no selfhood, their consciousness is limited to being neither one thing nor another. Because their consciousness does not dwell in specific vessels, it is free to dwell everywhere. So selflessness is boundlessness. And boundlessness cannot end.

TAO TE CHING 38

pale lady

Supreme power

Does not use power

And thus is really powerful

Inferior power

Clings onto power

And thus is really powerless

Supreme power is effortless

Having no need to act

Inferior power takes effort

Thereby having to act

Supreme compassion’s action

Is actionless

Supreme morality’s action

Is forced

Supreme ceremony is contrived

But when people do not respond to it

Arms are bared

To force them into line

Hence, separation from The Way

Results in integrity

Separation from integrity

Results in compassion

Separation from compassion

Results in morality

Separation from morality

Results in ceremony

Ceremony is devotion and sincerity

At its absolute thinnest:

The beginning of disorder

Understand beforehand

That is it only Tao’s flowery trappings;

The origination of delusion

Therefore, the great revered master

Abides in the substantial

And rejects the superficial

Dwelling in reality

Not ornamentation

Cutting off the latter

He is a recipient of the former