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 in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
kind-hearted 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.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 16, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Where We Come From, Our Common Source
How can I help you to realize where you come from? This, I believe with my whole heart, is the one impediment to our happiness, our being content and at ease in our own lives.
What we don’t realize is that each separate being in the Universe (that includes each of us; but it isn’t limited to just human beings) each returns to their common source. It is this returning to our common source which is serenity.
Since we don’t realize the Source, we stumble about in confusion and sorrow. I see it all around me. I see people, and it breaks my heart, I was like this, too. The turmoil of beings.
But, I promised I was going to talk about how we can realize where we come from. How we can realize our common Source. So, here it is.
It starts with your thoughts. It doesn’t really matter what you are thinking. Bet you weren’t expecting that. But, I am serious. You need to empty your mind of them all. Now, I know exactly what you are thinking: How am I supposed to do that? Stop right there. Don’t try to empty your mind of all thoughts. Don’t think, “Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think.” That isn’t going to help. You are going to keep on thinking. Thoughts are going to come, and thoughts are going to go. Let them. Let them both come, and go. Just don’t try to not think them. And, for goodness’ sake, don’t hold on to them, either. Let them come and let them go. Trust me, your mind will empty. If you let it happen.
It really is simpler than you are thinking it is. I know it was simpler than I thought it would be. And as long as you are thinking on it, wondering about it, trying to figure out how it will all go down, well, your mind won’t empty. You have to let it go.
Right here is where some people might suggest you practice some kind of breathing exercise. Hey, if that works for you, I say go for it. Put on some new age ambient music. Light some incense. Breathe in slowly. Hold it. Now exhale slowly. Repeat. Believe me, I am not knocking this practice. But I found it to be much more simple. That is, after much failure trying. I won’t recount all my failures. But, I will say this, practice makes perfect. Don’t beat yourself up over failure, even repeated failures. Just let it go.
Now, let your heart be at peace. Yeah, right. How do I do that? Well, it might help to remember why your heart is troubled. Lao Tzu told us it has to do with that hollow pursuit on a ladder with phantom rungs of hopes and fears. When you think of the self as self, when you see yourself as separate, then phantom hopes and fears rear their ugly heads. That is why your heart is troubled. And what is the remedy? See the world as your self. This isn’t a competition. You and all beings are one.
Watch their turmoil, as they stumble in confusion and sorrow. They don’t realize our common Source. But don’t contemplate that. Watch it, yes. Observe it. But trust your inner vision. To let your heart be at peace, contemplate their return to the Source. See every being returning to the Source. As you realize where you come from, where we all come from, you naturally become tolerant, disinterested, amused, kind-hearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king. Notice, he said “naturally”. This isn’t something you can force. And you shouldn’t try to force it. Simply contemplate our return to the Source. Serenity. You naturally become… Immersed in the wonder of the Tao.
This amuses me, because I was raised in the Christian religion. And believe me, when I say, there are whole schisms in the Church related to how people may properly be “baptized” into the Faith.
This is total immersion. Immersed in the wonder of the Tao. Now, you can deal with whatever life brings you. You realize the source of happiness, of contentment. And, it isn’t without. It is within.
When death comes, you are ready. Gee, what a morbid way to end the chapter. But wait, just think about that. Lao Tzu isn’t talking about a longing for death to come save you from the miseries of life. Lao Tzu is talking about a life so well-lived, that when death comes, you are ready. No regrets. No worries.