Whoever is planted in the Tao
will not be rooted up.
Whoever embraces the Tao
will not slip away.
Her name will be held in honor
from generation to generation.
Let the Tao be present in your life
and you will become genuine.
Let it be present in your family
and your family will flourish.
Let it be present in your country
and your country will be an example
to all countries in the world.
Let it be present in the Universe
and the Universe will sing.
How do I know this is true?
By looking inside myself.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 54, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Yesterday, Lao Tzu told us to be aware when things are out of balance. The result is always robbery and chaos, and not in keeping with the Tao. Lao Tzu offered us three warning signs to be aware of; they were happening in his own day, and they are still just as prevalent in our own. And, while he insisted the great way is easy, he told us people prefer the side paths. This, too, is just as widespread, today, as it was in Lao Tzu’s day. We may wonder how can we more effectively persuade people to stay off those side paths. After all, the problems we perceive in our world are tied to people preferring the side paths. We can’t force people to do the right thing. So, what can we do? Be a better example, maybe?
It is tough to have to face the way things seem to be, especially for those of us that do perceive the eternal reality, before and beyond it. Why won’t people wake up? What has caused them to become so inured to the way things seem to be? They don’t seem to want to behave according to what we have come to know is innate in all of us. Why do they prefer the side paths?
We know the answer, don’t we? There is a powerful elite who benefit tremendously from the system they have set up in opposition to the Tao. From early in our childhood, we have been indoctrinated to prefer the side paths. Most people will go all their lives, unaware they are pawns in a game being played at their own expense. This is all the more reason for us to be aware when things are out of balance; and center ourselves, and stay centered in the Tao.
One of the things which has always endeared me to Lao Tzu’s teaching is he never expected great things from so-called powerful men and women. Oh, things would certainly be great if they could center themselves in the Tao, and stay centered; but our own personal happiness, true contentment, doesn’t have to, and indeed can’t, depend on them. Lao Tzu always uses “ifs” with them. But with the rest of us he uses “whens”. We shouldn’t be waiting on them to amend their ways. They won’t willingly give up their own need to control. But, ultimately, each one of us has everything we need to be content with our simple, ordinary lives. The great way, indeed, is easy. We just need to stay off those side paths.
We can do this! We can be planted in the Tao; and know we will never be rooted up. We can embrace the Tao; and know we will never slip away. We are the ones with direct access to the true power. A power which those who reach for it, will never have enough. When all is said and done, it will be our names which will be held in honor from generation to generation. So-called powerful men and women may be notorious; but they will only be remembered as those who tried to get in the way, and failed.
I know what you are thinking, right now. You are thinking that I keep talking about how easy this all is, yet you are wondering, exactly how do we get planted in the Tao, how do we really embrace it? So, once again, I will say, it is so easy, the so-called powerful will scoff at us. That is okay, let them scoff; it wouldn’t be the Tao if they didn’t.
Now, I will admit, this took me far too long to figure out for myself. Hey, I was just as indoctrinated, just as inured in the system, as everybody else. I was slow to begin looking inside myself, when everything and everyone around me was telling me to look outward at them. But, once I started looking inside myself, peering into the darkness, I found clarity. I found the Tao present in me, it was there, all along. Once I discovered the Tao is present, all that remained was for me to let it be present in my life.
The Tao is present. But I wasn’t letting it be present in my life. And because I wasn’t letting it be present in my life, I wasn’t being the real, genuine, me. Oh, I put on a good show, fooling myself and others, for a long time. I couldn’t really see just how out of balance things were. You see, Lao Tzu keeps insisting this is innate in all of us. Every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao. But if we don’t realize that, if we don’t let the Tao be present in our lives, we are settling for less than the real “us”. Those side paths got well worn by me. But that was never the real me. Now, I am real. Now, I have become genuine.
I said that was all that remained; but I, then, discovered something more, as I continued to look deep inside of me. The Tao isn’t just present in me. It is present in my family, too. And I needed to let it be. Then, my family would flourish. When I continued looking, I saw the Tao is present in my country, as well. And I need to let it be. Then, my country will be an example to all countries in the world. When I continued looking, I saw the Tao is present in the whole universe. And I need to let it be. For it is then, the whole universe will sing.
The Tao is present, in you, in me, in our families, in our countries, in our universe. We just need to let it be. People may prefer the side paths, right now; but, there isn’t one of them who wouldn’t be open to finding a better way. What can one person do? Let the Tao be present in your life, first. Then, let it spread outward from there. Let it be present. Your genuineness is the best example you can be for everyone you encounter. Before long, you will start to hear it too. The whole universe singing in perfect harmony.