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 in 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 in 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)
Yesterday, we were talking about being expressions of the infinite and eternal Tao. Today, Lao Tzu uses the term manifestations. What are these manifestations? Children of the Tao. The Tao is our beginning. It is our mother. All things start there and all things return there.
Today, Lao Tzu is teaching us the path to freedom from sorrow, to find peace in your heart. This is to return to the Source of light. Which Lao Tzu calls practicing eternity. We have said that it is only an illusion that we are separate, finite, temporal beings. The reality is that we are connected to the infinite and eternal Tao. We are all one with it.
Realizing that, is practicing eternity. Realize that you are a manifestation of the Tao. You, along with all beings, are a child with a mother. Find the children, and you find the mother. How does this give us freedom from sorrow? Well, it helps to understand the reason for sorrow. Why is there sorrow? Because of separateness. As long as we view ourselves as separate, as long as we don’t realize our connectedness to all things with the Tao, that separateness produces sorrow in us, in our world.
That feeling of separateness is what causes us to close our minds in judgments. We make war on our fellow children. We judge them as being separate from us. Our hearts become troubled because our hearts are where we have the closest connection with all beings. But, having failed to realize our connection to all beings we traffic in all kinds of desires. Anything to fill the empty hole we have created inside of us.
Lao Tzu wants us to find our origin. Go back to the beginning. You do that by tracing your way back. Recognize the children for what they are. Intimately connected to the Tao. Keep your mind from judging. And, don’t let your senses be your guide. No, there is something greater inside each and every one of us than our five senses to guide us. This is the path to a heart at peace again.
So, we need to look inside ourselves. Look deep into the darkness; and see with true clarity. I am not separate. I am not alone. Yield to this understanding. Look beyond the illusion. The way things seem to be. Look beyond that. Yield to the truth. The eternal reality. That is your source of strength. You can return to the Source of light. But only when you are willing to use your own light. Your own light is a manifestation of the Source of light. Trace back that manifestation. Return. Return. That is practicing eternity. And it sure beats limiting myself to the finite and temporal. There is no peace there. Only sorrow.