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 you 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)
In the last few days we have been talking about spending time in the darkness, in order to find your inner light. It is about opening yourself to the Tao and becoming one with it. Today, Lao Tzu continues that theme by inviting us to take our cue from nature. Whether it is in fully expressing ourselves and then knowing when it is now time to shut up, or it is just coming to terms with what is actually real, about ourselves, and about the world and the Universe we live in; opening ourselves to the Tao is a very important step for us to take in our journey.
So, let’s take a look at nature today, and see if we can see what Lao Tzu means by opening ourselves to whatever the Tao wants to accomplish in us, today and every day.
The first thing that strikes me about Lao Tzu’s depiction of the forces of nature is how he hones in and focuses on just one thing at a time. When the wind blows, there is only wind. When it rains, there is only rain.
Lao Tzu wants us to learn a lesson here. To be like the wind. To be like the rain. And how do we do that? By embodying it completely. Sometimes the wind just has to blow and it will continue to blow until it is finished. The same is true of the rain. Yesterday, I stepped out of my house and into my backyard. I was immediately greeted with two things, and I don’t know in which order I experienced them. Whether it was the wonderfully, refreshing smell of the rain, or the rain drops hitting me. I was delighted because we need the rain. And when you have a little garden in your back yard, you come to delight in even a few precious raindrops when they choose to fall.
Part of the art of living, of being one with the Tao, is opening yourself to whatever the Tao brings your way. I am talking about the idea of accepting, receiving, learning, and adapting, as it applies to insight. The challenge before us is that while we want to think that we are open to insight, how often, when the wind starts to blow, do we retreat into our sheltered place of refuge, our comfort zone. That place where our own preconceived notions aren’t threatened. When the wind 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, part of the art of living, of being one with the Tao, is opening ourselves to loss. When the rain is coming down, we need to let it. Not resist it. Loss is not something we can avoid encountering throughout 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.
I hope you are seeing how the Tao is something that you can embody completely as you allow it to completely embody you. By opening yourself to insight, your mind is opened to the Tao. By opening yourself to loss, your heart is open to the Tao.
After the wind, after the rain, the clouds do pass. And the sun does shine through. It was always there, just waiting on you. You can trust your natural responses. Everything will fall into place.