Every being in the universe
is an expression of the Tao.
It springs into existence,
unconscious, perfect, free,
takes on a physical body,
lets circumstances complete it.
That is why every being
spontaneously honors the Tao.
The Tao gives birth to all beings,
nourishes them, maintains them,
cares for them, comforts them, protects them,
takes them back to itself,
creating without possessing,
acting without expecting,
guiding without interfering.
That is why love of the Tao
is in the very nature of things.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 51, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Yesterday, we talked about how knowing we are going to die, and being ready for death, free us to hold nothing back from life. Today, Lao Tzu weighs in on the universal question, “What is the meaning of life?”
Every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao. I understand that for some, life seems to be without meaning. But, let me assure you, things are not what they seem to be. My life has meaning, your life has meaning. From the least to the greatest, all beings are connected to each other through the Tao. We are all manifestations of the Tao; and that is what gives our life meaning and purpose. We may all start out unconscious of this meaning and purpose. But we are all perfectly ourselves, from the moment we sprang into existence. And, we are free to discover, for ourselves, what gives our existence meaning and purpose. We, all, do this by taking on a physical body, and letting circumstances complete us.
If there is any question of what volition we have in all this, the second stanza explains a little more of what “letting circumstances complete us” means. Don’t be surprised at how spontaneously it all happens.
The Tao gives birth to all things. It nourishes us, maintains us, cares for us, comforts us, protects us, and takes us back to itself. That, is a whole lot of loving. But don’t think, even for a moment, you have nothing to say about any of this. The Tao creates without possessing. It acts without expecting. It guides without interfering. We aren’t coerced. We aren’t forced. We aren’t manipulated. We are loved. Perhaps, we don’t always understand what love means. But the Tao perfectly embodies it for us. Love leaves us free. It makes no demands. It offers itself freely. That love is something innate in each of us. It is in the very nature of things. It enables us to both love the Tao and all our fellow beings, too.
So, now that Christmas has come and gone, with its songs of peace on Earth and good will to all, not to mention, another calendar year nearing its end, why don’t we all start doing what is really already natural for us; let’s start loving all our fellow beings, as unconditionally as the Tao loves us.