Every being in the universe
is an expression of the Tao.
It springs into existence,
unconscious, perfect, free,
takes on a physical body,
lets circumstances complete it.
That is why every being
spontaneously honors the Tao.
The Tao gives birth to all beings,
nourishes them, maintains them,
cares for them, comforts them, protects them,
takes them back to itself,
creating without possessing,
acting without expecting,
guiding without interfering.
That is why love of the Tao
is in the very nature of things.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 51, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
On Becoming Conscious We Are Perfectly Free
What has always stood out to me in today’s chapter is that word “free” in the first stanza. Being a libertarian, and liberty being the root of libertarian, of course being free is very important to me. Some people place more value on life than liberty. But, I like Patrick Henry’s take on it, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Life without liberty wouldn’t be a life in which I would be interested. Furthermore, I don’t just value freedom for myself, I value it for all beings. So, when I began to read through today’s chapter and found every being in the universe, because they are expressions of the Tao, springs into existence…free, Lao Tzu had my attention.
Now, not every being may be conscious of their freedom. They also may not be conscious of their perfection. But, that doesn’t change the reality. We are expressions of the Tao; and, that means we are perfectly free.
When we first sprang into existence, we were unconscious of our perfection and our freedom. But, Lao Tzu tells us exactly how we can move from a state of unconsciousness, to a state of consciousness: Let circumstances complete you.
I feel the need to say that again. If you are not conscious of your perfection and freedom, it isn’t because you aren’t already perfect and free. You need to let circumstances complete you. But, wait! If I am already perfect, why do I need anything to complete me? Shouldn’t I already be complete?
The further need for completion is because you are still unconscious. Once you are conscious of your freedom and perfection, you will be complete. Spontaneously honoring the Tao.
That spontaneous honoring of the Tao is important. Why do we do that? We do it, because we are expressions of the Tao. And, we do it by letting circumstances complete us.
We are expressions of the Tao. It is what gave birth to us. It nourishes, maintains, cares for, comforts, and protects us. No wonder the Tao is called the great Mother! It is always taking us back to itself. Like a mother hen with her brood of chicks.
Yet… Yet, it creates without possessing. It acts without expecting. It guides without interfering. This goes back to the fact we are perfectly free. We aren’t forced. We aren’t coerced in any way, shape, or form. We are perfectly free! And, as someone who believes love of freedom is in our very nature, I can totally embrace the reality that love of the Tao is in the very nature of things.