Colors blind the eye.
Sounds deafen the ear.
Flavors numb the taste.
Thoughts weaken the mind.
Desires wither the heart.
The Master observes the world
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is open as the sky.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 12, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Two chapters ago, Lao Tzu asked the question, “Can you cleanse your inner vision until you see nothing but the light? I said, then, that our problem is with insisting on holding onto desires. But it is even greater than that. Colors blind the eye. Sounds deafen the ear. Flavors numb the taste. Thoughts weaken the mind. Desires wither the heart. Cleansing our inner vision may seem impossible to us; what with, being bombarded with all the stimuli to our senses, trying to master our thoughts, and then there are all our desires. How can we cleanse it? And, can we ever trust it?
It may be tempting to try and somehow separate your self from the world. To close your self off. Some think that is exactly how to practice Taoism. Become a recluse, a hermit; detach your self from every one and every thing around you. But I don’t think that is what Lao Tzu had in mind, when he said the Master is detached from all things. Because the detachment that Lao Tzu speaks of doesn’t make us separate from every one and every thing; it makes us one with them. What we have to do is to look deep within ourselves, past the finite; and tap into the infinite. Don’t close your self off. Instead, open yourself up. Let go of your self, as separate; and you will be perfectly fulfilled. But how?
The Master, once again, shows us the way. How do we detach ourselves from all things, without making ourselves separate from them? The Master observes the world but trusts his inner vision. Observing what is going on all around you, but trusting what you are on the inside; this is tapping into the infinite within you. When you realize the infinite within you, you don’t become separate from, but one with, every thing and every one. The Master allows things to come and go, without any need or desire to interfere with them. He is an observer; but he isn’t moved by what he observes. What moves him is his inner vision. He opens his heart. It is infinite, like the sky. His heart is both detached from, and one with, all things.