Express yourself completely,
then keep quiet.
Be like the forces of nature;
when the wind blows,
there is only wind;
when it rains,
there is only rain;
when the clouds pass,
the sun shines through.
If you open yourself to the Tao,
you are at one with the Tao
and can embody it completely.
If you open yourself to insight,
you are at one with insight
and you can use it completely.
If you open yourself to loss,
you are at one with loss
and you can accept it completely.
Open yourself to the Tao,
then trust your natural responses;
and everything will fall into place.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 23, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Today, I could really learn from the forces of nature. I never feel like I have expressed myself completely. And I never know when to keep quiet. Lao Tzu tells me to be like the wind and the rain. When the wind blows, there is only wind. When it rains, there is only rain. The blowing wind and the falling rain are metaphors for how to express yourself completely. I don’t think we fully appreciate that the wind and the rain know exactly when it is time to stop and let the clouds pass, revealing the warming sun.
There is a lesson to learn here today about opening ourselves to the Tao. Like the wind and the rain, knowing when enough is enough. We need to embody it completely. This is what he means by being at one with the Tao. It is letting nature have its way. Accepting what you are naturally, and letting the Tao shape you naturally into what you will become. That is the art of living.
We need to open ourselves to insight. This is being the master of our own mind; and being open to whatever the Tao brings our way. That is the way to be at one with insight; so that we can use it completely. It amazes me how quickly I will retreat back into my comfort zone, my sheltered place of refuge, where my own preconceived notions won’t be threatened, when the wind starts blowing a little. There is something I need to learn. Will I learn it now, or put it off until later? That wind is going to keep blowing. And while it blows, anything that can be blown away, will be blown away. It takes courage to face the wind. To open ourselves to it. To become one with it. To use it completely.
And, we need to open ourselves to loss. Just like the falling rain, loss is not something we can avoid encountering in our short lives on this planet. We can’t avoid it; so open your heart to it. Let the rain come down. Let it wash away all that isn’t truly you. Let it bring life-giving nourishment to what is truly you. That is how to be at one with loss. You must accept it completely.
Opening yourself to the Tao is letting yourself be lived by the Tao. It is how we are truly ourselves. Remember, being at one with the Tao is being at one with yourself. And, being in harmony with the Tao is being in harmony with yourself. We embody the Tao by letting the Tao embody ourselves. By opening yourself to insight, your mind is opened to the Tao. By opening yourself to loss, your heart is open to the Tao.
The wind and the rain are going to finish expressing themselves. The clouds are going to pass; and the sun will be there, where it always is, shining through. When you open yourself to the Tao, and trust your natural responses, everything will fall into place.