The Origins of What is in What is Not

Return is the movement of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.

All things are born of being.
Being is born of non-being.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 40, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

The Origins of What is in What is Not

We have said before that the best way to explain being and non-being, is to call being “what is”, and non-being “what is not”. In today’s shortest chapter in the Tao Te Ching, nestled in the middle of Lao Tzu’s book on the way of wisdom, we have Lao Tzu explaining the movement and way of the Tao; and how that is expressed through the relationship between non-being and being, yin and yang.

If we are going to be centered, and remain centered in the Tao, today’s lesson is important to understand. “What is” has come about through “what is not”. The Tao is always flowing, and that flowing (much to our chagrin, maybe) is a retrograde motion. The Tao is always returning, always turning us back to the Source, our origin in the what is not. And, the way in which it moves is always yielding, giving way.

This is why those who seek ever more power resist the Tao so much. It isn’t their way. Still, it must be our way. If we want to go forward, we must be willing to go back. If we want to go on through, we must learn how to yield. To be content with what is, learn how to be content with what is not.

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