A Meditation To Help You Deal With Whatever Life Brings You

Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings.
But contemplate their return.

Each separate being in the Universe
returns to the common Source.
Returning to the Source is serenity.

If you don’t realize the Source,
you stumble I confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you.
And when death comes, you are ready.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 16, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Two chapters ago, the one where Lao Tzu gave us a riddle, he told us that it is the essence of wisdom to realize where you come from. In yesterday’s chapter, Lao Tzu described the appearance of the ancient Masters as a way to talk about how profound and subtle their wisdom was. Today, Lao Tzu offers us a meditation to help us to realize where we come from, the Source. Saying that returning to it is serenity.

This is something that we can do on a daily basis. Take time each day, it can be in the morning or afternoon, the evening or the night. Whenever is a good time for you. Just do it. Empty your mind of all thoughts. How do we do that? Well, I have found the easiest way is not to try to empty my mind. But to let the thoughts come and go without lingering on them. Is your heart troubled? Acknowledge that your heart is troubled. But then let it be at peace.

For me, this daily practice isn’t something I do just once in the day. I do it throughout the day. I like to go outside and walk around in my backyard, smoking my pipe. I look at the ground, the trees, the sky (I especially like to look at the sky at night), and then I look out across my neighbor’s yard to the busy street and watch all the cars going by. The other seasons of the year I can see plenty of what might be called turmoil in the wee beasties crawling around on the ground, the squirrels and the birds in the trees. But now that it is Winter, most of the turmoil seems centered in the traffic on the street.

I want to ask them, “Where did you come from? Where are you going? And, why are you in such a hurry?” I could watch this turmoil for hours. But what Lao Tzu wants me to be contemplating is their return. Not to this street. But to the Source. Where they come from. Where they are returning. It is a common Source. We all come from it. We are all returning to it. That is what I want to contemplate. That is serenity. The returning.

Most of us spend a great deal of our time stumbling about in confusion and sorrow. Why do you think that is? Lao Tzu tells us that we need to realize where we come from, the Source. That is how to deal with whatever life brings you. And, as an added bonus, we will be prepared for death when that day comes.

I was chatting with my brother today. He was talking about the new year, and preparing to turn fifty years old. Talking about our Mom and Dad and how young they were when they died. We don’t want to die of cancer (like our Dad) or of Alzheimer’s (like our Mom). Yet, we need to be ready whenever that day arrives.

But, of course, we aren’t looking to hasten that day’s arrival. What are we going to do in the meantime? Contemplate our return to the Source. That returning is serenity. I naturally become tolerant. Not to be confused with the politically correct tolerance that the thought police want to force on us. Being tolerant naturally is so much better. Being disinterested. A much maligned term, disinterest. People don’t think you care. But that isn’t the case, at all. Now, I really can care. Because there isn’t anything in it for me. I don’t have a vested interest. That disinterest liberates me to really care.

And, I am amused, very easily amused. The darnedest things amuse me. It is because I have the key to unlock natural tolerance and disinterest within me. Like your grandmother, kindhearted. No, not that grandmother, your other one. And, dignified like a king. What is Lao Tzu talking about? Being immersed in the wonder of the Tao.

That is what contemplating our returning to the Source is all about. It is like being immersed. A baptism. Are you ready?

Being In The Present Moment, Ready For Anything

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it.
All we can describe is their appearance.

They were careful as someone
crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapeable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.

Do you have the patience
to wait till you mud settles
and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?

The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting.
She is present, and can welcome all things.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 15, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

We have been talking about the essence of wisdom. In yesterday’s riddle, Lao Tzu introduced the art of subtlety. What is beyond all that we can conceive with our senses. To understand the way things are, we cannot rely on our senses, which can only tell us of being. To understand the eternally real, we must enter the realm of nothing, which is profound and subtle. And, that means understanding non-being and being work together. When we are only thinking of being we are being misled by our senses. I told you yesterday about the teas I have been drinking. They portray that subtlety that lies beyond what we can experience with our senses. In order to appreciate the teas, I can’t trust my senses to give me the complete picture. The color of the tea, the smell, the taste, they are all too subtle. But when my senses are rendered useless, I begin to appreciate a nuance that is beyond what my senses can reveal to me.

Today, Lao Tzu has another example of the profound and subtle. He refers to the ancient Masters, whose wisdom was unfathomable. He says there is no way to describe their wisdom. He can only describe their appearance. But notice, if you will, the way the profound and subtle nuance of their wisdom comes across in spite of the limitations of your senses.

In describing their appearance, Lao Tzu uses a series of metaphors, similes really. He paints pictures for us; and, because pictures are supposed to be worth a thousand words, maybe we will find he is saying a lot. What I want you to do is picture these paintings in your mind. Let your mind and your heart work together to understand what Lao Tzu is saying.

The first picture is of someone crossing an iced-over stream. Do you see this person? They want to get to the other side. They need to get to the other side. But an iced-over stream is treacherous. As this person crosses over, you can see the concern and caution etched on their face. And, the care with which they take each step. The ancient Masters were careful.

The second picture is of a warrior in enemy territory. Constantly on guard. Alert to any movement, even out of the corner of their eyes. Listening intently to any sound of broken twigs. Profoundly aware of every breath, and every step, they are taking. Each breath and step are magnified in their own ears. Stealth is important. This is enemy territory. They can’t be captured. Even the sound of their own beating heart threatens to betray them.

The third picture is of a guest. In this picture, in my own mind, I see a gracious host, being welcoming. Much like my gracious host that serves me tea each week. But Lao Tzu doesn’t want me focusing on the host. He wants my attention drawn to the guest. Yes, the host is attending their needs. But how is the guest behaving? They are showing appreciation. Demonstrating courtesy to the host who has invited them. Always conscious that they are an invited guest. They can be uninvited.

The fourth picture is of melting ice. Perhaps this alludes back to that iced-over stream from the first picture. But, talk about subtlety. A picture of melting ice? What does it show us? The fluid nature of the way things are. Left alone, that ice will melt down into a puddle of water. Is it ice we want? We need to change its environment. Perhaps what we really want is a glass of water.

The fifth picture is of a block of wood. Now we are really getting subtle. Here is a block of wood. What are you going to do with that? The answer is you can shape it into anything you want. The uncarved block of wood is a favorite metaphor of Lao Tzu’s. It speaks of beginnings and limitless potential.

The sixth picture is of a valley. Are you still picturing these in your mind? In my own mind, I see a beautiful valley surrounded by towering, snow-covered mountains. As the snow melts, streams of water run down to fill the valley and make it lush with green growth. The ancient Masters were receptive like that.

The seventh and last picture is of a glass of water. I knew that ice was melting for some reason. Nothing is as refreshing as a nice, tall, glass of clear water. Perhaps with a lemon wedge, and a few shavings from that melting ice over there.

I know those were some profound and subtle paintings. But what do they really mean? Lao Tzu wants to know whether we have the patience to wait until our mud settles, and the water is clear. Can we remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself? That is the essence of wisdom which the ancient Masters had. If we want a life of ease, which by the way, is the point of the journey, then we need to understand a little of the essence of their wisdom. They didn’t seek fulfillment. They weren’t seeking. They weren’t expecting. They were just present. That is what all those pictures represent. Being in the present moment. And, they were ready for anything.

A Riddle To Begin Your New Year

Look, and it can’t be seen.
Listen, and it can’t be heard.
Reach, and it can’t be grasped.

Above, it isn’t bright.
Below, it isn’t dark.
Seamless, unnameable.
It returns to the realm of nothing.
Form that includes all form.
Image without an image.
Subtle, beyond all conception.

Approach it, and there is no beginning.
Follow it, and there is no end.
You can’t know it, but you can be it.
At ease in your own life.
Just realize where you come from;
this is the essence of wisdom.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 14, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Happy New Year to all my friends. And, here is riddle to begin your new year. Lao Tzu has been talking about the need to detach ourselves from all the things that prop up the illusion. Detachment will result in our being attached to reality. We were talking yesterday about the illusion that we are separate from the rest of the Universe. We feel alone. Lost. And, confused. We are looking for answers. Lao Tzu would say, in all the wrong places. That is the allure of that ladder he was talking about yesterday. We want a life of ease. And the ladder promises that.

But Lao Tzu has told us that the ladder’s promises are all an illusion. The life of ease it promises will always elude us. That life of ease isn’t something we can know. That is what today’s riddle is about. If you look for it, it can’t be seen If you listen for it, it can’t be heard. If you reach for it, it can’t be grasped.

While on that ladder you will find that above, it isn’t so bright. And below, it isn’t so dark. But most people feel trapped on that ladder. They don’t see a way out. What Lao Tzu is offering to us, whether we feel trapped on the ladder or not, is a big heaping dose of reality. The ladder is not the gateway to what you are seeking. What you are seeking is not something which can be found by seeking.

What Lao Tzu is talking about comes back to the reason he keeps talking about the importance of non-being. It all returns to the realm of nothing. It is why, in this past year, I have come to really find joy in the subtle. It is something I have discussed before with my friend who I meet each week for tea. All the teas he serves are so subtle. He worries that they are bland. No! They aren’t bland. They are subtle. And it is in that subtlety that I am able to appreciate all the nuance the tea has to offer. The foods that I eat. The activities that I enjoy. They all embrace that subtlety.

But that is coming from someone who has been off the ladder for a couple of years now. It is still yet hard for me to explain. It is something you can only appreciate as you experience it for yourself. As you approach it, you find it has no beginning. As you follow it, you find it has no end. No, you can’t know it. But good news! You can be it.

You can be at ease in your own life. No, it doesn’t have to be something far off in the distant future. You can experience it right now. Once you realize where you come from. That, my friends, is the essence of wisdom. And, it is something that Lao Tzu will talk about more and more as we continue this journey.

Not Another New Year’s Resolution

Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success
is as dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
your position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope
is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don’t see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?
See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self.
Then you can care for all things.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 13, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

As I am reading through today’s chapter, another year is coming to a close. And, today’s chapter certainly seems appropriate for this time of reflecting on this past year and thinking of the coming new one. Was 2014 a success for you? Or, are you chalking it up as a failure? What are your hopes and fears about the coming year?

But, of course, Lao Tzu is quick to point out to us that success and failure, as well as hope and fear, are not grounded in reality. Have you been on a ladder going up or down in 2014? Are you wondering where on the ladder you will be in 2015? Lao Tzu warns us that the ladder is a dangerous place to be. It’s shaky up there. Perhaps, you might consider, as a new year’s resolution (if you are inclined to make those) to resolve to keep both your feet on the ground. That is where you will always keep your balance.

Both our hope of success and our fear of failure, Lao Tzu calls hollow. Hollow? Really? Can’t they be something much more substantial than that? No, he says, hope and fear are both phantoms. Which means they aren’t real. It is all in our imagination. The illusion. We imagine all sorts of things, both good and bad, when we are thinking of ourselves as separate, apart from the whole Universe.

Now, I understand this is all crazy talk. The idea that success and failure are equally dangerous. What could possibly be wrong with succeeding every so often? What danger is there in hoping that we will succeed in the coming year? Oh, we’d gladly give up fearing failure. Just let us hope for success.

But, we can’t have one without the other. We can’t hope for success without fearing failure. And so, some of you are going to say, “Well, fine then. I will just go on living my life just like I always have, hoping to make it further up that ladder.” And, always dogged by that fear that the rung I am on is not taking me where I want to go, fearing that one misstep and down I will go.

Some think the cost is a price they are willing to pay. But here is the problem. You keep paying the price and reaping the cost. All for an illusion. The ladder isn’t real. Those things you hope for, the things you fear, they aren’t real. Only the price you are paying is real.

There is a better way. It is a way to keep all things in balance with both feet on the ground. Stop seeing yourself as separate. That is the grand illusion. Like you are in some circus act. Look beyond your self as separate and see the way things really are. You and the whole world (the whole Universe, really) are one. See things that way and you won’t have anything to fear. Love the whole world as you love yourself. Then, as you care for all things, you are cared for, as well.

We talked before about this idea of the individual as containing the whole Universe within themselves. And, I want to reiterate that this isn’t forsaking the individual in favor of the collective. In a collective, the individual is only part. It isn’t individual vs. the collective. Nor, is it collective vs. the individual. The individual is the whole. We aren’t separate from the whole. We are the whole. It isn’t assimilation of the individual within the collective; but, it may be viewed as assimilating the collective within the individual.

And, it isn’t measured as success, or failure. It isn’t something to be hoped for, or feared. It is just the way things are. That is what I have faith in as another year ends and a new year begins.

A Sense of Balance, The Practice Of Moderation

Colors blind the eye.
Sounds deafen the ear.
Flavors numb the taste.
Thoughts weaken the mind.
Desires wither the heart.

The Master observes the world
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is open as the sky.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 12, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Today, once again, Lao Tzu is encouraging us to not be swayed by outward appearances. The key is balance and moderation. We need to see beyond the colors to the thing itself. Sounds without definition are a cacophony in our ears. And, our taste buds can be numbed by excess of flavors. Too much thinking only weakens our minds. Hunting and chasing after what we desire makes our hearts sick.

Observe the world, yes; but understand that a lot of what we see is all an illusion. Trust your inner vision. That will show you what is the eternal reality. Let things come and go without forming attachments to them. The sky is big and open. Sometimes clouds fill it. But, then they go on their way. Let your heart be open like that.

A Whole Lot Of Nothing

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 11, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

I have titled today’s commentary on chapter eleven “A Whole Lot Of Nothing” because everywhere Lao Tzu seems to be looking that is exactly what he sees. Whether it is the center hole in the wheel that makes the wagon move, or the emptiness inside the clay pot that holds whatever we want, or the inner space contained within the four walls we call our home; Lao Tzu recognizes that it is the seemingly insignificant, nothing, which is everything. This is the significance of how being and non-being go together.

We concentrate so much on being. And, pay so little attention to non-being. Perhaps, because we can’t begin to understand what nothing really is. We think it is merely the absence of something. But the nothing is so much more than that. Without that nothing the something is nothing. But because there is nothing, the something is, well, something.

This is one of those chapters in the Tao Te Ching in which there is so much more than meets the eye. There is a whole lot of nothing here. And that nothing is easily passed over. Much like we look at the outward appearances of people around us, and don’t really consider the person on the inside.

Spend some time today thinking about how important all that nothing that surrounds us truly is. Look for the nothing in everything you see. Realize how useful it is. And, make an effort to connect with another person today. Not just a casual encounter. But a personal one. Make genuine eye contact with them. Look beyond the reflection of your own face in their eyes. Get to know that person on the inside. They are probably worth it.

Well, Can You?

Can you coax your mind from its wandering
and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become
supple as a newborn child’s?
Can you cleanse your inner vision
until you see nothing but the light?
Can you love people and lead them
without imposing your will?
Can you deal with the most vital matters
by letting events take their course?
Can you step back from your own mind
and thus understand all things?

Giving birth and nourishing,
having without possessing,
acting with no expectations,
leading, and not trying to control:
this is the supreme virtue.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 10, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Six rhetorical questions. Such difficult questions. Much of what I read in the Tao Te Ching seems easy to put into practice. This seems impossible. If I ever wanted to just be able to start all over again, this would be the time. Keep to the original oneness? Perhaps, if I could just return to the oneness of the young child.

Someone said to me that the young child is pure fluidity. It isn’t aware of any separation, so all its movements are spontaneous and alive and whole and perfect. Yes, this, this is what I want again. But, I am an adult. I can’t go back and be born again. Oh, Nicodemus, how little you understand. If an adult body becomes truly supple, there is a quality to its movement that the child’s doesn’t have, a texture of experience, a fourth dimension of time. And, this would be better, yes.

What Lao Tzu is telling me is that what is impossible is possible. But it won’t be through any effort on my own part. Just coax your mind. It hasn’t wandered nearly as far as you might think. And, there isn’t any thing to do to transform your own body. Just let it be transformed. But, how do I cleanse my inner vision? Just look into the light, my friend, keep looking into the light – until, you see nothing but the light.

Can you go through today and everyday without imposing your own will on others? That is how to truly love them and lead them. Can you let events take their course? Must you interfere? Yes, I know these are vital matters. That is why it is so very important to let things take their course. What is more vital than that the Earth continue its path around the Sun? And, what can you do about that? You can’t deal with the most vital matters. That is why you must leave them be.

It always comes back to what Lao Tzu was saying, just yesterday. Do your work and then step back. Step back from your own mind. Then you will begin to understand all things.

It is giving birth and nourishing, without even trying. It is having without possessing. It is acting without expectations. It is leading without needing to be in control. It is the supreme virtue.

The Way Most People Disdain

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 9, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

It is as if Lao Tzu, in today’s chapter, is saying, “Let me show you a better way.” He was talking yesterday of the way that people disdain. People that are never satisfied with how full their bowls already are. They always want more. More. But Lao Tzu is showing us a better way. The way that most people disdain.

There is a better way than filling your bowl to the brim, the endless accumulation of wealth. Do you think you will be satisfied with great halls full of gold and precious gems? That hoard would be in constant peril from thieves. Your knife will never be sharp enough to defend it.

There is a better way than chasing after money and security, with a heart that will never unclench. And, you don’t have to be a prisoner to the opinion of others. There is a better way. And, here it is: You have work to do. So, do it. Just do it. And, be done with it.

This is what Stephen Mitchell translates as the only path to serenity. But, what is serenity, really? Is it something that we can experience in this life? I think it is. I think it is something we can experience at the conclusion of each day’s work. Don’t be like most people, who can’t sleep peacefully after their day’s work is done. Be content with simply being yourself; today, and every day. And, experience serenity; today, and every day.

Is that it? Is serenity just getting a good night of sleep? Actually, that is only a beginning. When Lao Tzu is talking about serenity, I think what he is talking about is inexhaustible wealth and boundless power. But, most people can’t bring themselves to experience that. They are so busy chasing after the illusion, they can never see the reality. And, because of that, they will never have true wealth or true power.

But, you aren’t most people; so, I will share with you the way, as I have seen it explained. The wealth from giving generously is inexhaustible. The power from not accumulating is boundless. What? You doubt this is true wealth? You question that this is true power? Do you disdain this way? Try doing your work today; and, sleeping on it tonight.

Just The Simple Thing You Are

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself,
and don’t compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 8, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Yesterday, we were talking about unity and oneness. Of how the whole Universe is contained within each and every one of us. We aren’t individual parts of it. Not some insignificant part. Not even some integral part. We are the whole. Each one of us. The whole. The integral. And, I stopped there. I let it go at that. But, was I satisfied? No, never. Because there is always so much more. It is infinite, after all. Particularly of interest to me is how Lao Tzu sees the individual as infinite and eternal. Lao Tzu’s language concerning the individual could easily be interpreted as collectivist. I could certainly see people picturing the Borg collective. But, far from swallowing up, or absorbing, the individual into the collective, I find Lao Tzu’s infinite and eternal Tao as empowering the individual.

Today, Lao Tzu offers the metaphor of water to help me to explain. Too often, we libertarians are criticized for being atomistic. “No man is an island” is a critique I have often heard when we talk about the individual as being supreme. But what is it that Lao Tzu says about the supreme good? He says it is like water. What do we know about water? We know it nourishes all things without even trying. And, we know that it is content with the low places. He says that people disdain that. People here, I think, does refer to the collective. The collective doesn’t seek to nourish, but to be nourished. It doesn’t seek out the low places. It seeks to be supreme. How very different is the Tao in each one of us; which is very much like water.

I said that our individualism is not atomistic. And that water is a metaphor for that. What do I mean? Well, what is the smallest unit of water? It isn’t the atom. There is no such thing as an atom of water. There are atoms of hydrogen and oxygen, but that is on the atomic level. That would be breaking down the individual into mere particles. But, Lao Tzu isn’t doing that. He is speaking of the whole individual. And if we are speaking of whole individuals as water, then we are talking about molecules. If I were a molecule of water in a vast ocean of water, I would still individually be water as much as all the rest of the ocean is water. I am not a part of water. I am water. I am complete, in and of myself. That, I think is what Lao Tzu is trying to get across to us, when he speaks of individuals having the infinite, eternal Tao present within them.

And we wonder what to do with this information. I’ll tell you what Lao Tzu wants you to do with this information. He wants you to be content to be simply yourself. If you are a molecule of water, be content to simply be a molecule of water. We worry about whether or not we will be respected. We busy ourselves with comparing and competing with everybody else. And, Lao Tzu? He just wants us to be like water. He tells us exactly what we should be about. In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep it simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.

Why must we make things so difficult? Water nourishes all things without even trying. It is content with, and remains content with, the low places. That is why it is supreme.

What It Means To Be Infinite And Eternal

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.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 7, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Lao Tzu has been kicking around this notion regarding the Tao being both infinite and eternal. Today is a good day to explain what he really means by those terms. Earlier, he said that he didn’t know who gave birth to it, saying it was older than God. Today, he comes to the logical conclusion that must then be drawn. If God didn’t give birth to it, since it predates God, then we can safely say that it was never born. It has no predecessor and no precursor. And, because it was never born, it can never die. This is what Lao Tzu means by eternal. That seems a reasonable definition to me. Everything that has a beginning, will have some ending. But something that has no beginning, can have no end.

His definition of infinite isn’t so obvious. When we think of infinite, we think of something that is immeasurably great; we think of something without limits, without boundaries; and, the Tao is definitely all that. But, Lao Tzu is wanting to stress something else about the Tao’s infinite nature in this chapter. Today, he wants us to see the Tao’s infinite presence.

And, I am reading along and he has been talking a lot about this, and I get it. Or, at least, I think I get it, the Tao is eternal and infinite. Why does he keep repeating himself? Maybe, it is because I don’t really get it. Maybe, I am still seeing myself as separate from the Tao. I mean, sure, the Tao is infinite and eternal; but, I am finite and temporal. How does any of this even apply to me?

And now, I am beginning to see why it is that Lao Tzu keeps repeating himself. I have been looking at me all wrong. I am seeing myself as separate; when Lao Tzu is wanting me to see myself as one with the Tao. How can I see myself as separate, as finite, as temporal, when the Tao is present within me, within you, within all things? We are all one. The entire Universe is one. All of nature is in an eternal, infinite dance. What separates me and you from this oneness, this unity and harmony, is desires which blind us to the reality, and keeps us trapped in the illusion of separateness.

It is that illusion from which we need to break free. As long as we are caught in desires, we see ahead and behind as two very different things. The Master gets it. She stays behind; and, that is why she is ahead. We can only see being ahead, or being behind. We want to be ahead and we fear to be behind. She is detached from all things. How very different is our attachment to all things. We aren’t one with them because of our attachment to them. It is only through detachment that we can become one with them.

So, how do we break free? From the illusion. From our attachment. From our fear of being behind. If it is perfect fulfillment that we seek, there is only one way. And, the Master understands it. She has let go of herself. She has let go of her separateness. She has let go of her fears. She has let go of her attachments. She has let go of her self. And, she is free to be one with the infinite and eternal, the Tao.

This is our journey. It is what Lao Tzu has been trying to teach us of the nature of yin and yang. Not their separateness, but their unity. Their oneness. Yin and yang are not two; they are one. And, we are one. I used to look at nature; and, I observed it all as separate creatures, separate things. Then, I started to realize that they were all one giant organism. The whole Universe, one giant organism. But, even then, I only saw the individual parts. We were all individual parts. But, Lao Tzu sees something a lot greater than that. We aren’t individual parts; we are all the whole. I am not some insignificant part. And, I am not even some integral part. I am the integral.