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, we were talking about how to know when things are out of balance. The result is always robbery and chaos, not in keeping with the Tao. Lao Tzu offered us three warning signs that things are out of balance. They were happening in his day; and they are still just as prevalent, today. Why do we prefer the side paths? Because the powerful elite benefit by the system they have set in the place of the Tao. From early in our childhood, we have been indoctrinated to prefer the side paths. Most people are simply unaware that they are pawns in the game being played at their expense. Lao Tzu wants us to be aware when things are out of balance; and then, to center ourselves, and stay centered, in the Tao.
One of the things that has always endeared me to Lao Tzu’s teaching is that he never expected great things from our ruling elite, the so-called powerful men and women. Oh, things would be great, if only they would center themselves in the Tao; but our happiness doesn’t depend on them. We don’t need to wait on them to amend their ways. That is a good thing, since they will never willingly give up their control. But, each one of us, ultimately, has all that we need to be content with our simple and ordinary lives. The great way is easy. We just need to stay off those side paths.
We can do this. We can be planted in the Tao; and know that we will not be rooted up. We can embrace the Tao; and know that we will not slip away. It is us simple, ordinary individuals who have access to the true power. A power that those who reach for it, will never have enough of. Ultimately, it will be our names that will be held in honor from generation to generation. The so-called powerful men and women, will be notorious; but, they will only be remembered as the ones that tried to get in the way, and ended up failing.
So, how do we get planted in the Tao? How do we embrace it? It is so easy, the powers that be will scoff at us. Let them scoff. It wouldn’t be the Tao, if they didn’t.
This took me way too long to figure out for myself. The Tao is present. All I have to do is let it be present in my life. It is only when we let the Tao be present in our lives that we become genuine. What is Lao Tzu saying? That we haven’t been genuine, all along? Yes! That is it. Every being in the Universe is an expression of the Tao. That includes us human beings. When we let the Tao be present in our lives, we are embracing our true selves, as expressions of the Tao. We are talking about our very nature here. This is your genuine self. The Tao is the eternal reality before and beyond the illusion propped up by the powerful elite. We have that Tao inside each of us. It gives birth to us. It nourishes us. It maintains us. It cares for us. It comforts us. It protects us. It takes us back to itself. Embrace that as your reality. Let it be your reality. See before and beyond the illusion to your true self, and be planted in that reality. Nothing will be able to root you up. You will never slip away.
So many of the problems we perceive in our world we think are societal problems. And so, top-down solutions are always being offered to try and do something about these problems. Inevitably, these “solutions” only make things much worse. Why? Because the Tao doesn’t work that way, from the top-down. It works from the bottom up. It always begins inside individuals, then works outward from there. Next step outward from individuals, families. Let the Tao be present in your family. The same things that applied to individuals applies to families, too. We don’t have to do anything for the Tao to be present in our families. We only need to let it be. Genuine individuals in a family result in a family that will flourish.
Next, Lao Tzu makes the giant leap to letting the Tao be present in your country. At least I think it is a giant leap. I prefer to break it down into smaller acts. For me, the next step outward from families is to your neighborhood and then your community. Let the Tao be present in your neighborhood and in your community. Little by little, not in great leaps and bounds, but little step by little step we let the Tao be present. First your neighborhood and then your community serves as an example to all other neighborhoods and communities. Soon you will find that the Tao can be present in your country, as well. Let it be. Don’t fight it. And don’t let the naysayers dismay you. Let it be present in your country and the whole world will follow that example. But Lao Tzu envisions something even greater happening. Let the Tao be present in the Universe. This is so easy, when you realize that the Tao is already present in the Universe. Just like it is already present in you, in your family, and in your country. All that was ever left was for us to let it be. As long as we resisted, things are out of balance. It is time to sing. That is really all that is left. Begin singing. Let the Tao sing through you. Sing until you hear the whole Universe sing with you.
How do I know this is true? That is the question that Lao Tzu posed to himself. And you and I need to pose it to ourselves, as well. The answer isn’t out there, my friends. It is inside your self. Look inside your own self, you will know this is true.