Can You Just…

Can you coax your mind from its wandering
and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become
supple as a newborn child’s?
Can you cleanse your inner vision
until you see nothing but the light?
Can you love people and lead them
without imposing your will?
Can you deal with the most vital matters
by letting events take their course?
Can you step back from your own mind
and thus understand all things?

Giving birth and nourishing,
having without possessing,
acting with no expectations,
leading and not trying to control:
this is the supreme virtue.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 10, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Can You Just…

Okay, this is day three of telling about the supreme good (or virtue), and how to put it into practice in our lives. I only hope you were able to read the last two chapters (with my commentary).

I decided on a title right away, today. Usually, it is something that only comes to me after I am pretty much done writing my thoughts on the chapter. But, some how, “Can you just…” seemed the right thing to call it, right from the beginning.

Can you just coax your mind from its wandering and keep to the original oneness? Can you just let your body become supple as a newborn child’s? Can you just cleanse your inner vision until you see nothing but the light? Can you just love people and lead them without imposing your will? Can you just deal with the most vital matters by letting events take their course? Can you just step back from your own mind and thus understand all things?

Those six rhetorical questions-no, they aren’t impossible things to achieve. They aren’t even difficult to do. You can do this without doing anything, at all. We are the ones that put up the road blocks, the stumbling blocks. We are the ones that make it difficult. That make it all too complicated. The questions are rhetorical for a reason. That can you just could just as easily be read, won’t you just.

Won’t you just understand how easy it is to give birth and nourish, to have without possessing, to act without any expectations, to lead without trying to control.

Yes, it is the supreme virtue! And, being the supreme virtue, it is understandable to think practicing it should be difficult. But that isn’t the way things are, at all.

Lao Tzu wants to remind us of who we have always been. That original oneness, like when we were newly born, with an inner vision so clear we saw nothing but the light, without any desire to impose our own will, or to interfere with the course of things.

It is what we think we know in our minds that gets in the way of our truly understanding all things. It is time to take a step back from that. To let go of what we think we know. To trust our inner vision.

And this, we will begin to do, next week. Have a great weekend, my friends! Enjoy your time saying, out with the old, and in with the new, year. Be full of joy, and remember, don’t drink and drive. 😉

When Enough is Enough

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 9, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

When Enough is Enough

Today’s chapter is really just a continuation of what we were talking about in yesterday’s chapter. How to practice the supreme good.

We covered the basics, yesterday. Lao Tzu ended yesterday’s chapter just beginning to get into the nitty gritty of it: Be content to simply be yourself. Don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.

Today he continues that thought, with the need to know when enough is enough, and how caring about what others think of you makes you their prisoner.

Just consider how silly we are acting, when we insist on filling our bowl to the brim. Just wanting to make sure we get everything we can get. But, of course, that always backfires. We end up spilling it. What a waste!

And, can we ever get ready, enough? Why keep sharpening that knife? It will soon be blunt, anyway. Just use it, already!

We chase, how we chase, after money and security. Postponing happiness until we get something more, something just around the corner, but always just out of reach. And, we wonder why heart disease is the number one killer among us, when we never give our hearts even a moment to unclench.

It all comes back to that comparing and competing with others. The keeping up with the Joneses I was talking about yesterday. Why, exactly, do we crave others’ approval so much? That prison cell we have built for ourselves, with its walls ever-closing-in on us. Lao Tzu is offering us so much better. Freedom!

And, serenity.

There is really only one path to take for that, my friends: Do your work, then step back. Know when to stop. Know when enough is enough. Step back, and be content with it. Enjoy!

The Good Book?

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself
and don’t compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 8, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

The Good Book?

Twice before, first in chapter two, and then in chapter five, Lao Tzu contrasted good with bad (or evil). There, I believe he was talking about a subjective thing, a mere human construct. But, today, Lao Tzu introduces something entirely different: an objective thing, the supreme good (or virtue). It is the Te in Tao Te Ching. If the Tao can be (and it often is) translated the Way, then Tao Te Ching, can be (and it often is) translated The Way of Virtue Book. Can I get away with calling it, “The Good Book”? Haha, maybe.

Anyway, in today’s chapter, we are going to learn a little something of what Te (virtue) is. And, how we can be virtuous. Since we can be good at it, we can also be bad at it. That is just the way things are. But, let’s not talk about being bad at it, just yet. In later chapters, Lao Tzu will tell us the Tao is a refuge for us when we are bad. But, for today, let’s just talk about what it means to be good.

And, to do that, Lao Tzu introduces his favorite metaphor for talking about the Tao, and Te; that is, water.

The supreme good is like water.

Oh, the things we could tell about the virtue of water! And, we will, over and over again, as we go along our journey. Today, Lao Tzu points at two remarkable attributes of water, which make it like the Te, and the Tao.

First, it nourishes all things effortlessly. It doesn’t have to try to do so. This is wei wu wei, doing without doing, a fundamental tenet of philosophical Taoism. We have talked about it before, and will do so many times again.

Second, it is content with the low places we humans mostly disdain. That water flows downhill, seeking out the lowest place, tells us of its humility.

Now, you might think it odd that Lao Tzu would attribute humility to something like water. “Why, all that is, is water being water.” Yes, and that is just the point. It just is what it is. Nothing more, and nothing less. Thus, it is like the Tao.

“But, weren’t we supposed to be talking about the supreme good?”

Do I really need to start over again?

That is the supreme good! Being simply what you are. Nothing more, and nothing less. If we are bad at it, it is because we are trying to be something more, or something less, than what we are.

But, I promised we weren’t going to talk about being bad at it. Sorry, my bad.

So, how can we be good at it?

“In dwelling,” Stephen Mitchell says, “live close to the ground”. Now, I like Stephen Mitchell’s translation. Really, I do. But, sometimes, I find his translation just not quite sufficient. I am a bear of very little brain, sometimes. Here, I turn to Robert Brookes’ translation, which says, “In dwelling, choose modest quarters.” That might help a little too much. I think Lao Tzu’s point is for us to be humble. And where we live, or how we dwell, needs to reflect humility. Just think of the many ways we try, to “keep up with the Joneses”, by having an even bigger home, or living in just the right neighborhood. We could talk more here, of the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the things “we couldn’t possibly live without”. The list could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

In thinking, keep it simple. I made mention of Winnie the Pooh in the previous paragraph. That wasn’t accidental. You may be familiar with Benjamin Hoff’s “The Tao of Pooh”. Being a bear of very little brain isn’t all that bad, when you are practicing the supreme virtue.

In conflict, be fair and generous. Robert Brookes’ also says it quite well: “In dealing with others, be kind.” It seems so simple. And, some will no doubt suggest it is a bit naive. So be it! If, instead of competing, and comparing ourselves with others, we would be content to be kind, what a difference it would make in our world. How quickly any conflict would be resolved, if just one party to the conflict chose to be fair and generous, instead of demanding they get what they want (what they desire).

In governing, don’t try to control. This one is my favorite one. Lao Tzu will talk a lot about the art of governing, in the days and weeks ahead, but this “don’t try to control”, those four words alone, says everything. It was what attracted me to Lao Tzu’s teachings in the first place. But, just so you know, it doesn’t just apply to governing others. It also applies to my favorite thing, self-government. How you govern yourself. Don’t try to control. Let things come and go. Don’t force. … Before I get carried away, on to the next one…

In work, do what you enjoy. I know this might be a sore spot with some of you. Because isn’t that what everyone tells everybody? Except they also tell you that you have to keep up with the Joneses, too. And, they heap stress after stress after stress on you. Who can enjoy that? But, really, I know this is true. If your work is truly something you enjoy, it will go a huge way toward your being content.

Finally, in family life, be completely present. I talked, the last couple of days, about my mother, and how completely present she was with her children, and then her grandchildren; and, even though she is gone now, she is still present within us. And, that is just what Lao Tzu means by being completely present. We have multiple roles in family life. We are children, siblings, parents, spouses, etc. Be present in each of those roles. Don’t be absent.

Te, the supreme good, is being like the Tao; it is being yourself, nothing more, and nothing less. Be content to be simply yourself, don’t compare or compete, and everyone will respect you, without you having to “earn” that respect.

The Meaning of Life: Being Perfectly Fulfilled

The Tao is infinite, eternal.
Why is it eternal?
It was never born;
thus it can never die.
Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself;
thus it is present for all beings.

The Master stays behind;
that is why she is ahead.
She is detached from all things;
that is why she is one with them.
Because she has let go of herself,
she is perfectly fulfilled.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 7, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

The Meaning of Life: Being Perfectly Fulfilled

Yesterday, I spent my entire commentary talking about my mother. After all, Lao Tzu did call the Tao the Great Mother. And, I had a really great mother. Lao Tzu is telling the mystery of the eternal, the infinite, Tao. And, it remains something we can’t quite realize. I had fifty years with a living, in the flesh, representation of the Tao, in my mother; and, it is still a mystery to me how she did all that she did. But, today, I am not going to continue telling about my mother. Lao Tzu wants to tell us more about the eternal, the infinite, Tao. And, he doesn’t use any metaphors for it, today.

Why is the Tao eternal? That would seem to be an easy one to answer. It isn’t bound to the time line to which all us finite and temporal beings find ourselves. It was never born. Thus, it can never die. It just is. It always is.

But, when it comes to answering the question, “Why is it infinite?”, that one is a little more complicated. Or, at least, I make it more complicated.

Looking back on yesterday’s commentary, and telling of my mother, maybe I saw it all along. I looked right at it, but never could realize what I was seeing.

Why is it infinite? It is its selflessness. It has no desires for itself. That is what makes it infinite. That is what makes it always present for all beings.

I think I see what Lao Tzu is saying, here. Why are we finite? Because of our desires for ourselves. Is it possible that we can be infinite, too?

The Master shows us how. Being ahead by staying behind. Being one with all things by being detached from them. Being perfectly fulfilled by letting go of self.

Don’t think, for even a moment, that Lao Tzu is talking about sacrificing self to some greater good. It isn’t a sacrificing of self. It is realizing your self’s great purpose. It is the meaning of life.

My mother was a simple woman. But, she got it. In fact, it was her simpleness which enabled her to realize it. She was perfectly fulfilled. And, you and I can be, too.

A Really Great Mother

The Tao is called the Great Mother;
empty yet inexhaustible,
it gives birth to infinite worlds.

It is always present within you.
You can use it any way you want.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 6, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

A Really Great Mother

I hope everyone is having a wonderful season of holidays. I am fresh off a visit from my sister, and my brother and his family. It was so nice getting us siblings together. Because we are scattered across the country, we don’t get to see each other more than a couple times a year. But, it being a holiday, I got to host a visit. And, as is always the case when we get together, after months away, we started talking about our common denominator, our parents. Since our parents are no longer living, each of us share our own favorite memories. This visit we happened to talk a lot about how hard-working Dad and Mom were. Especially Mom. And, that leads me to talking about today’s chapter. Because, in today’s chapter, Lao Tzu calls the Tao the Great Mother. And, I can’t possibly read today’s chapter without thinking of my own great mother.

Empty yet inexhaustible! That is a perfect description of my mother. I would also describe her as the most selfless person I have ever known. But, that wouldn’t really be quite true. Because her selflessness wasn’t really selflessness. Her purpose in life was to be a loving wife to my dad, and the greatest of mothers to her three children. It wasn’t selfless on her part. It was merely an expression of who and what she was. I was the oldest, so I had the good fortune of knowing her the longest. The woman seemingly never tired. She would get up hours before anyone else in the household. And go to bed after everyone else, too. And, she never complained. She just kept giving, and giving. Exuding joy. Empty. Just like the Tao. And, just like the Tao, that emptiness contained within itself inexhaustible potential.

Does the metaphor break down once we start talking about giving birth to infinite worlds? She only gave birth to three children, after all. No, I don’t think so. For she gave birth to infinite possibilities in each of her children. And, four grandchildren, who had the honor of knowing her for too few years.

My mother is gone. For three years, now. Yet, once again, and just like the Tao, she is always present within us. Each and every day. And, I can use that presence, any way I want. That, I am doing today, with today’s commentary. Tomorrow, we will talk more about the Tao being always present within us; and why, that makes it infinite. But, for today, thanks for letting me talk about my mom, a really great mother.

Hold On to the Center

The Tao doesn’t take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn’t take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.

The Tao is like a bellows;
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

Hold on to the center.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 5, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Hold On To the Center

I think it was back in my commentary on chapter two I told you what we would be talking about today. How the Tao doesn’t take sides; it gives birth to both good and evil. It is us humans, with our out of control desires, who make those distinctions. “This, right here, is beautiful; and that, over there is ugly. And, this here, is good; while that is bad.” The Tao doesn’t differentiate between things in this way. Making subjective judgments. There is no playing favorites with nature. It is always an objective observer. Now, just think about that for a moment: the Tao doesn’t make those distinctions. Whatever we call beautiful and good, or ugly and bad, each have their origin in the Tao. So, how dare we make those distinctions? The Master, anyone wise and virtuous enough to know better, welcomes both saints and sinners. Rejecting no one and no thing. Accepting and welcoming every thing that comes our way, whether we deem it good or evil.

Just like the Master, we want to be more like the Tao. More in harmony with it. And, the Tao is like a bellows.

Like a bellows? Yes. It is empty, like that bowl in yesterday’s chapter. And, just as with that bowl, it is because of its emptiness, it is infinitely capable.

The more you use it, the more it produces.

Once again, we are talking about the mystery. So, once again, that comes with a caveat: The more you tell of it, the less you understand.

But, I just want to know how I can be more like the Tao? How can I be more in harmony with it? And, what does a bellows have to do with it?

Just like that bellows starts out empty, not choosing a side to be on. We need to hold on to the center.

(And that, my friends, concludes this week’s leg of the journey. I have family coming in for the holiday weekend, which means I already have my planned days off (the empty) filled to the brim. Have a happy holiday, however you choose to celebrate it. I will be back to delve deeper into the depths of the emptiness, on Monday.)

It Is a Mystery, After All

The Tao is like a well;
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void;
filled with infinite possibilities.

It is hidden but always present.
I don’t know who gave birth to it.
It is older than God.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 4, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

It Is a Mystery, After All

It is so much easier to talk about the manifestations.

Those are my first thoughts, after reading through today’s chapter. But, we have been doing that for the last two chapters, talking about the manifestations. Lao Tzu warned us about this in chapter one. We want to be able to realize the mystery of the eternal Tao. But, we can’t, as long as we are caught in desire. That is why talking about the temporal manifestations is so much easier.

But, Lao Tzu did say he was going to tell of the mystery, too. He just warned us, what he can tell isn’t the eternal reality. He can point at it. He can come up with some useful metaphors to help to describe it. But, for now, that will have to be sufficient.

Thus, we arrive at today’s chapter. Where, Stephen Mitchell’s translation says the Tao is like a well, and like the eternal void. I have to be honest with you all. I don’t think this is offering much in the way of help with realizing the mystery. So, with apologies to Stephen Mitchell, I want to look at another translation, for inspiration.

Thankfully, I was introduced to Robert Brookes’ translation earlier this year.

“The Tao is an empty bowl

inexhaustible to those who use it.

Indeed, in its depths lies the origin of all things.

It dulls the sharp edges

resolves perplexities

softens the glare.

Yet it remains a part of the physical world.

This hidden tranquility –

I do not know its origin –

it has existed forever

it will endure forever.”

Subtle are its differences, with Stephen Mitchell’s translation. Subtle, yet profound.

I particularly like his use of an empty bowl as a metaphor for the Tao. We are going to be talking a lot, in the next several days, about the value of emptiness. We are going to be delving so deep into the depths of the value in emptiness, that I don’t hardly want to talk much more about it, today. Can we be content with knowing that emptiness makes it inexhaustible to those who use it? Is it enough to know you can “fill” that empty bowl anyway you want?

I’d like to think so; if for no other reason than that is only the first part of the chapter, and there is still the rest which needs talking about.

The Tao, infinitely empty, and eternal. How does it act in our world? Robert Brookes insists it remains a part of the physical world. But, how can this be? How can the eternal interact with the temporal? How can it be a part of the temporal?

So many questions. It is a mystery, after all.

It dulls sharp edges wherever they may be found. It resolves perplexities (good, I find myself quite perplexed, just now). It softens the glare. It is a hidden tranquility; no, make that, the hidden tranquility.

Hidden. Having existed forever. Enduring forever. Eternally tranquil.

When Everything Will Fall Into Place

If you over-esteem great men,
people become powerless.
If you overvalue possessions,
people begin to steal.

The Master leads
by emptying people’s minds
and filling their cores,
by weakening their ambition
and toughening their resolve.
He helps people lose everything
they know, everything they desire,
and creates confusion in those
who think that they know.

Practice not-doing,
and everything will fall into place.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 3, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

When Everything Will Fall Into Place

We started talking about this in chapter one, just a couple of days ago. Our problem with desire. It is a fact; we are caught in desire. And, until we are free from desire, we can’t realize the mystery of the eternal Tao. We are then left with seeing only the tao, the manifestations of the Eternal in the temporal.

And, in today’s chapter, Lao Tzu shows us two more manifestations we “see”, because we are caught in desire.

It is our desire which causes us to over-esteem great men, to overvalue possessions. It isn’t wrong to esteem great men, or value possessions. It is the over-esteeming, the overvaluing, that is the problem. That is what creates the imbalance. And, what becomes manifest is people become powerless, people begin to steal.

What is to be done?

What a question! And, we may not much like the answer-caught in desire, as we are.

Here, the Master comes to our rescue, once again.

The Master leads (by example) in emptying people’s minds, and filling their cores; weakening their ambition, and toughening their resolve. Helping people lose everything they know, everything they desire; and creating confusion in all those who think they know.

What is happening, here, is a turning things inside out, and topsy-turvy. Everything you think you know needs to be let go. That needs to be emptied. But, emptying is always followed by filling. Who, and what, we are at the very core of our being, our heart, is spontaneously filled. To know (intuitively) we don’t know. To lose everything we desire, all ambition weakened. And, have that ambition, focused on outward things, replaced with a toughened, inner resolve.

The problem with our desire isn’t that we have desires, it is that we are caught in it. Like being in a trap, a prison cell, a slave. We are mastered by our desires, rather than being masters of our desires. What Lao Tzu is offering us is freedom. The goal of our journey is, just that, freedom.

And, this is the way to be free. Instead of asking, “What is to be done?”, practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place.

Act without doing anything, that is how Lao Tzu described it yesterday, this practice of not-doing. Let things come as they arise, and go as they disappear. Don’t interfere. Don’t do…anything. Let. Allow. Be content. Be free. Be in awe of the spontaneous order (the way things are), as everything just falls into place.


Everything That Is and Is Not

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 2, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Everything That Is and Is Not

In yesterday’s chapter, Lao Tzu distinguished between the tao, and the Tao; between what we can tell of (and can be named), and that which is eternal and unnameable; between what we can see (what is manifest), and that which is shrouded in darkness (and a mystery). Those distinctions are important for us to keep in mind as we go about our journey. We need to understand the limits, being caught in desire, place on us. But, we also need to understand that the only way to free ourselves from desire is to continue on with our journey, tracing the manifestations we can see, back to their Source. In other words, we have already walked through the gateway to all understanding, All that remains for us, to truly understand all, is for us to continue on the journey. And, that, we do with today’s chapter.

In today’s chapter, we begin to see the manifestations of the Tao, the tao. It is our introduction to yin and yang, as we see how we perceive things, how we “see” them, creates a temporal imbalance which is spontaneously balanced out eternally.

When people see some things as beautiful, or good, other things become ugly, or bad. This is yin and yang, in operation, in our universe. It isn’t that either yin or yang is beautiful and good, and the other is ugly and bad. Those distinctions-beautiful and ugly, good and bad-are mere human constructs. The Tao certainly doesn’t make those distinctions. (For how the Tao doesn’t take sides, and gives birth to both good and evil, be here Friday for my commentary on chapter 5).

Yin and yang (complementary aspects of the Tao) merely work together to bring about balance and harmony, wherever there is imbalance. Being and non-being create each other. That is, what is and what is not, create each other. Difficult and easy support each other. Long and short define each other. High and low depend on each other. You simply can’t have one without the other. Even before and after follow each other. It is the interaction of the temporal with that which is eternal. Or, should that be, how the eternal interacts with the temporal? I talked about how deep the rabbit hole goes in my commentary on the last chapter of the Tao, last Friday. The rabbit hole, indeed, goes deep.

We have some exploring to do. We are going to look deep within ourselves for the answers. And, here to help us is a wise and virtuous person Lao Tzu refers to as the Master. The Master is in perfect harmony with the way things are. Watch how the Master maintains balance and harmony in their own life. Acting without doing anything, and teaching without saying anything. To someone unfamiliar with philosophical Taoism that is likely to sound nonsensical. But, Lao Tzu goes on to explain exactly what he means by this. Things arise, and the Master lets them come; things disappear, and the Master lets them go. The Master has without possessing, acts without any expectations. And, to further demonstrate how someone can be in harmony with the eternal, while being “stuck” in the temporal, as soon as their work is done, they forget about it-thus, it lasts forever.

I promise you, while this may be difficult to understand at this stage in our journey, we will gain light and understanding as we continue on. Today’s chapter was merely an introduction to everything we will encounter, and cover in much more depth, all along our journey. Come back tomorrow, we will go deeper into the rabbit hole.

The Gateway to All Understanding

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnameable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire,
you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire,
you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 1, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

The Gateway to All Understanding

Today, we begin another journey through the Tao Te Ching. And, thanks for letting me take a couple days off before beginning, again. It felt strange taking those two days off, not doing what had been quite routine; but, I got to go see “Rogue One” with my son (don’t worry, no spoilers), so I enjoyed my time off.

Now, to get back to it. Lao Tzu does have a couple of caveats before we get started, though. First off, the tao that can be told isn’t the eternal Tao. Even the name Lao Tzu gives it-the Tao-isn’t the eternal name.

The eternal Tao, the eternal reality, the way things are, is unnameable. But, hey, we have to begin somewhere. So, we begin, as all particular things begin, with a name: Tao.

The eternal Tao is a mystery, which we can’t realize as long as we are caught in desire. That might be the most troublesome of the caveats. How are we going to realize this mysterious Tao? But, until we are free from desire, we must be content with only seeing its manifestations.

Still, there is some good news; both the mystery, and the manifestations, arise from the same source. So, even though we are caught in desire, we will be able to trace back those manifestations straight to their source.

That source, Lao Tzu calls darkness, because it is shrouded in mystery. It is darkness within darkness, but it is the gateway to all understanding.

What does this mean? It means, as we go along in our journey, tracing back those manifestations we see, we will take the steps necessary to be free from desire. We are going to look inside ourselves, discover our own light, and use that light to return to the source of all understanding. We will see through the darkness, and find clarity.