He who is in harmony with the Tao
is like a newborn child.
Its bones are soft, its muscles are weak,
but its grip is powerful.
It doesn’t know about the union
of male and female,
yet its penis can stand erect,
so intense is its vital power.
It can scream its head off all day,
yet it never becomes hoarse,
so complete is its harmony.
The Master’s power is like this.
He lets all things come and go
effortlessly, without desire.
He never expects results;
thus he is never disappointed.
He is never disappointed;
thus his spirit never grows old.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 55, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
The singing we were talking of yesterday is the perfect segue into today’s chapter on harmony with the Tao. You plant, you wait, you sing. First, it is only one voice. Perhaps, it is just you, singing melody. But as your genuineness shines through, your family picks up on it, and join with you, in singing. Then, it takes off from there, until the whole country, the whole universe, is singing. The melody is still strong, but what is most evident is the harmony.
Now, I don’t think I need to say that all of this singing is nothing more than a metaphor. It only serves to point at the harmony. When I am out in nature, I, both, see and hear the harmony in nature. All that remains is for me to be in harmony with it. But, in today’s chapter Lao Tzu doesn’t picture nature to represent a person in harmony with the Tao. He pictures a newborn child.
That newborn child is our metaphor for being in perfect harmony. Picture that newborn child. Its bones are soft, and its muscles are weak. But, just look at how powerful its grip is! Also, notice, even though this newborn child can’t possibly know anything about the union of male and female, its penis, still, can stand erect. Then, there is the sound. It can scream its head off all day, without ever becoming hoarse.
This is an illustration of the intensity of vital power available to all of us, when we are in complete harmony with the Tao.
So, how exactly do we translate this, power of a newborn child, to us? Lao Tzu certainly doesn’t expect us to reenter our mother’s womb, and be born again.
Lao Tzu explains it like this. It is the power to let all things come and go, effortlessly, and without desire. It is the power to never expect results; and, thus, never to be disappointed. It is the power of a spirit that never grows old.
Are you disappointed? Were you expecting something else? We have been talking, now, for several days, on the limits of our finite and temporal reality. The limits are such, we may find ourselves experiencing a premature death. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
A spirit that never grows old is tapping into the infinite and eternal reality. There are no limits, here! I recently saw a video from an experiment done, I believe back in the 1930’s, on infants. In the video the infants were holding on to a bar, with that powerful grip they are notorious for, suspended off the ground. It isn’t that those infants had anything to prove. They are only being what they are, powerful. Effortlessly. Without desire. Not expecting anything. This is the spirit we all have innate within us. Will we tap into this power?