The Master keeps her mind
always at one with the Tao.
That is what gives her her radiance.
The Tao is ungraspable.
How can her mind be at one with it?
Because she doesn’t cling to ideas.
The Tao is dark and unfathomable.
How can it make her radiant?
Because she lets it.
Since before time and space were.
The Tao is.
It is beyond is and is not.
How do I know this is true?
I look inside myself and see.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 21, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Yesterday’s chapter was a very personal one for Lao Tzu. He used the personal pronoun, I, twelve times. I believe this was an amazing display of intentional empathy on his part. He identifies with our suffering, with our “aloneness”. It is when you see your self as self, as separate, as alone, that you feel cut off from the rest of the world. But, you are not alone. That is why you must see the world as your self. Then that intentional empathy carries you along. How so? Lao Tzu described it as drinking from the Great Mother’s breasts. You are held in Mother’s arms. You are nourished with Mother’s milk. You are different, extraordinary.
Today, Lao Tzu explains further, how it is the Master can keep her mind always at one with the Tao. It is what gives her, her radiance.
It doesn’t seem even possible. The Tao is ungraspable. We all know this is true. How can her mind be at one with it? Obviously, grasping at it, won’t be of any use to us. The Master doesn’t have any magical powers that allow her to do the impossible. So, what then, can we do? As soon as we ask the question, we suspect we know, at least, the first part of the answer. What can we do? We can do nothing. When confronted with something you cannot grasp, what can you do? When you can’t grasp, then don’t cling.
Our problem isn’t what we think it is. We think our problem is that we need to grasp the ungraspable. That would be a problem, if we really needed to grasp it. Because that is impossible. It can’t be grasped. But that isn’t our problem. Our problem is all the things we think we know. The ideas that we cling to. That is what holds us back from being at one with the Tao. What the Master does, is let go of all the things she thinks she knows. She doesn’t cling to ideas. Grasping is impossible; so stop clinging.
But what gives her, her radiance? The Tao is dark and unfathomable. We all know this is true, as well. How can it make her radiant? It is her practice of doing not-doing. She does nothing. She doesn’t do anything to make herself radiant; and, she also doesn’t do anything to prevent herself from being radiant. She simply doesn’t interfere with that dark and unfathomable Tao. And, the dark and unfathomable Tao does nothing; yet, through it, all things are done. She is at one with it. She lets it make her radiant.
Understand, very little separates you and I from the Master. We can all be masters. What makes her different, extraordinary? She practices doing not-doing. And, knowing not-knowing. Practice those two things, and you, too, will be radiant, at one with the Tao.
Behold the ungraspable, dark, and unfathomable Tao! It is both before and beyond; before time and space were, and beyond is and is not. How do I know this is true? This isn’t something that I can point at outside of myself. I can’t point to some distant horizon and say, “See there, there is the Tao!” And, I certainly can’t point at something closer and say, “Here it is!” It isn’t outside of me. The truth isn’t out there. Sorry, to all you “X-File” fans. The truth is inside of us. Inside you, and inside me. If you want to realize the truth, you will have to look inside your own self to see it.