The Tao doesn’t take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn’t take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.
The Tao is like a bellows;
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.
Hold on to the center.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 5, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Hold On To the Center
I think it was back in my commentary on chapter two I told you what we would be talking about today. How the Tao doesn’t take sides; it gives birth to both good and evil. It is us humans, with our out of control desires, who make those distinctions. “This, right here, is beautiful; and that, over there is ugly. And, this here, is good; while that is bad.” The Tao doesn’t differentiate between things in this way. Making subjective judgments. There is no playing favorites with nature. It is always an objective observer. Now, just think about that for a moment: the Tao doesn’t make those distinctions. Whatever we call beautiful and good, or ugly and bad, each have their origin in the Tao. So, how dare we make those distinctions? The Master, anyone wise and virtuous enough to know better, welcomes both saints and sinners. Rejecting no one and no thing. Accepting and welcoming every thing that comes our way, whether we deem it good or evil.
Just like the Master, we want to be more like the Tao. More in harmony with it. And, the Tao is like a bellows.
Like a bellows? Yes. It is empty, like that bowl in yesterday’s chapter. And, just as with that bowl, it is because of its emptiness, it is infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces.
Once again, we are talking about the mystery. So, once again, that comes with a caveat: The more you tell of it, the less you understand.
But, I just want to know how I can be more like the Tao? How can I be more in harmony with it? And, what does a bellows have to do with it?
Just like that bellows starts out empty, not choosing a side to be on. We need to hold on to the center.
(And that, my friends, concludes this week’s leg of the journey. I have family coming in for the holiday weekend, which means I already have my planned days off (the empty) filled to the brim. Have a happy holiday, however you choose to celebrate it. I will be back to delve deeper into the depths of the emptiness, on Monday.)