The Master gives himself up
to whatever the moment brings.
He knows that he is going to die,
and he has nothing left to hold on to:
no illusions in his mind,
no resistances in his body.
He doesn’t think about his actions;
they flow from the core of his being.
He holds nothing back from life;
therefore he is ready for death,
as a man is ready for sleep
after a good day’s work.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 50, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Whatever the Moment Brings
Do you want to be happy, truly happy? That is really the whole point of the practice of the Tao we have been talking about. It is how to be content with a simple, and otherwise ordinary, life. For the last two days Lao Tzu has told us what the practice of the Tao entails. Dropping something every day. Until we arrive at non-action. Until we arrive at no mind. And, we can do this!
At least, that is what I tell myself each and every day. I can do this! I can give myself up to whatever the moment brings. I can give up my hopes, my fears, my desires. But, here is the deal. I don’t want to kid myself. I know I am not prepared for death. That is the end, isn’t it? I am going to die. I know this. Yet, I still hold on to illusions. My body still resists.
So, I also remember this is a daily practice. And, over time, practice will make perfect. This I tell myself, too. That I am still holding on to illusions in my mind, and my body is still holding on to resistance, just means I need to continue to practice.
Still, there is an end to this practice. When there are no more illusions in my mind, no resistances in my body. Yes, it does sound like I am going to die.
But, let’s not be confused, here. Lao Tzu isn’t referring to physical death. There is a finality to it, however. Like at the end of a good day’s work, and you are ready for sleep. That I am going to die means no longer thinking about my actions. They just flow from the core of my being. When I am ready for death, I will hold nothing back from life, in this moment. Whatever the moment brings.