The Tao is infinite, eternal.
Why is it eternal?
It was never born;
thus it can never die.
Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself;
thus it is present for all beings.
The Master stays behind;
that is why she is ahead.
She is detached from all things;
that is why she is one with them.
Because she has let go of herself,
she is perfectly fulfilled.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 7, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
The Meaning of Life: Being Perfectly Fulfilled
Yesterday, I spent my entire commentary talking about my mother. After all, Lao Tzu did call the Tao the Great Mother. And, I had a really great mother. Lao Tzu is telling the mystery of the eternal, the infinite, Tao. And, it remains something we can’t quite realize. I had fifty years with a living, in the flesh, representation of the Tao, in my mother; and, it is still a mystery to me how she did all that she did. But, today, I am not going to continue telling about my mother. Lao Tzu wants to tell us more about the eternal, the infinite, Tao. And, he doesn’t use any metaphors for it, today.
Why is the Tao eternal? That would seem to be an easy one to answer. It isn’t bound to the time line to which all us finite and temporal beings find ourselves. It was never born. Thus, it can never die. It just is. It always is.
But, when it comes to answering the question, “Why is it infinite?”, that one is a little more complicated. Or, at least, I make it more complicated.
Looking back on yesterday’s commentary, and telling of my mother, maybe I saw it all along. I looked right at it, but never could realize what I was seeing.
Why is it infinite? It is its selflessness. It has no desires for itself. That is what makes it infinite. That is what makes it always present for all beings.
I think I see what Lao Tzu is saying, here. Why are we finite? Because of our desires for ourselves. Is it possible that we can be infinite, too?
The Master shows us how. Being ahead by staying behind. Being one with all things by being detached from them. Being perfectly fulfilled by letting go of self.
Don’t think, for even a moment, that Lao Tzu is talking about sacrificing self to some greater good. It isn’t a sacrificing of self. It is realizing your self’s great purpose. It is the meaning of life.
My mother was a simple woman. But, she got it. In fact, it was her simpleness which enabled her to realize it. She was perfectly fulfilled. And, you and I can be, too.