In the beginning was the Tao.
All things issue from it;
all things return to it.
To find the origin,
trace back the manifestations.
When you recognize the children
and find the mother,
you will be free of sorrow.
If you close your mind in judgments
and traffic with desires,
your heart will be troubled.
If you keep your mind from judging
and aren’t led by the senses,
your heart will find peace.
Seeing into darkness is clarity.
Knowing how to yield is strength.
Use your own light
and return to the source of light.
This is called practicing eternity.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 52, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
A Choice Between Peace and Sorrow
In yesterday’s chapter, Lao Tzu said the love of the Tao is in our very nature. And, we talked about how perfectly free we are to choose to follow the Tao, or go counter to it. In today’s chapter, Lao Tzu expounds on this theme. Giving us a choice between peace and sorrow.
Sorrow is the result of us making distinctions. We have been talking about that since chapter two. We distinguish between good and bad, between beautiful and ugly. When we close our minds in judgments, and traffic with desires, the result is our hearts are troubled.
If our hearts are to find peace, we must keep our minds from judging, and not be led by the senses.
I know, I know, that sounds easier said, than done. But, let’s not make it harder than what it is.
A theme throughout his Tao Te Ching is that the Tao is our beginning (all things issue from it), and our end (all things return to it). What gives us trouble is the eternity in between beginning and end.
Lao Tzu prescribes the antidote to our troubles in today’s chapter. Go back to the beginning. Find the origin. To do that, he tells us to trace back the manifestations.
This doesn’t have to be a mystery. The manifestations are what he referred to back in chapter one. We can’t realize the mystery as long as we are caught in desire. But, we can see the manifestations. Once we are freed of desires, then we will realize the mystery. But, until then, we still have the manifestations.
What are the manifestations? In yesterday’s chapter, Lao Tzu reminded us every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao. When you recognize that all your fellow beings are Her children, you have found Mother.
Today, we are in between. We are still making distinctions. Treating the children, not as children, but as something other. No wonder there is such sorrow! We must see into, and through, this present darkness until we have clarity. What has been our long practice, we must forsake. Stop making distinctions! You have an inner strength, of which you have long been unaware. Know how to yield to it. Use your inner light to return to the source of light. It takes practice, but by this practice of eternity, your heart will find peace.