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.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 6, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
I am beginning to think there must be something to this emptying and filling. Back in chapter 3, Lao Tzu said, the Master leads by emptying people’s minds, and filling their cores. In chapter 4, he said the Tao is like the eternal void (that is pretty empty). But, it is also filled with infinite possibilities. In chapter 5, he said the Tao is empty, yet infinitely capable. And then there is today’s chapter.
Here, Lao Tzu, after earlier saying it is like a well and like a bellows, now brings his message home to us. The Tao is called the Great Mother. Why is it called the Great Mother? Because it is empty yet inexhaustible, giving birth to infinite worlds. Mother is something we can all relate to. Why? Because every being in the Universe has one. Even if our own relationship with our mother is less than perfect, we have plenty of other examples to choose from. We understand the analogy of a mother being empty yet inexhaustible. Throughout my childhood, my mother did it all. She was up well before all us kids. And only went to bed, long after us. (Actually, I am not for sure that she ever actually slept. I certainly don’t have any evidence that she did.) There were times that I knew she was running on empty. But, she just kept running, virtually inexhaustible.
Calling the Tao the Great Mother is a good metaphor. It gives birth, yet another thing mothers do, to infinite worlds. There is that word, infinite, again. Infinite possibilities, infinite capabilities, infinite worlds. The eternal reality is infinite. There is no end to the possibilities, no end to its capabilities, and no end to the ways you can use it.
Back in chapter 4, Lao Tzu said, the Tao is hidden but always present. In today’s chapter, Lao Tzu expands on that. Where it is hidden is where it is present. And that is within you.
I said, yesterday, this journey we are on is a path of self-discovery. Spoiler alert: It is within yourself that you will discover the Tao. That is where it has always been. That is where it will always be. You don’t have to go on some pilgrimage to find it. You only need to look for it, within yourself. You will discover it, as you discover yourself. You have everything you need within you, because you have the Tao within you. That is the eternal reality. That is why you can use it any way you want.