It Is Transformative

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,
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)

I recently had a Skype conversation with my daughter, Abigail, who is living in Melbourne, Australia. Without going into any of the details of our conversation, the basic gist of the conversation revolved around the need to learn how to be detached from all things. In that conversation I found myself being libertariantaoist, more so than Dad. I had my most recent blog posts on my mind and I was quoting from them. And today’s chapter, I would like to dedicate to my daughter. I hope she will read it.

As I begin reading this chapter, it seems like Lao Tzu is instructing us in the art of meditation. I can almost hear in the background, a solitary bell, chiming every couple of seconds; and my breathing in and out, slows with my heart beat to keep pace with the chime of the bell.

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

Most of us don’t make the time to practice meditation because, perhaps, we have tried it before. But it didn’t work. It seemed rigid. Forced. The antithesis of what we were trying to achieve. At least that is my own excuse for not practicing any formal meditation techniques.

I am not nay saying it. If it works for you, by all means use it to your own benefit.

Trying to empty my mind of all thoughts, just never has worked for me. That required effort. And I was seeking effortless action. And that really is the point of meditation. I am certain any practioner would tell me so. It isn’t supposed to be rigid, or forced. It really is supposed to be effortless action in practice. I really shouldn’t get hung up on methods.

But today’s chapter is a meditation. When Lao Tzu says empty your mind of all thoughts, he isn’t asking you to force anything. You simply let the thoughts come and go, and don’t hold on to them. Why are our minds so full? Because we won’t let go of those pesky thoughts. And thinking that we don’t want to think isn’t going to help. I know, I have tried.

Let your heart be at peace. Lao Tzu seems to have the radical notion that the reason our hearts are in turmoil is because we won’t let them be at peace. I know, right? But, Lao Tzu is right. And this requires no effort either. What requires effort is holding onto the things that are troubling our hearts.

What am I getting at? Detachment from all things.

Lao Tzu tells us to watch the turmoil of beings, but contemplate their return. We get so caught up in the turmoil. But that isn’t what Lao Tzu wants us contemplating. Let that turmoil come and go. Don’t hold onto it. Contemplate this, instead: Each separate being in the Universe returns to the common Source. It is in returning to the Source that we find serenity.

A couple chapters ago, Lao Tzu told us that the essence of wisdom was realizing where you have come from. That is what I want to contemplate, today, and everyday. That is where serenity is to be found.

Beings stumble about in confusion and sorrow because they don’t realize where they come from. They are out of harmony with the Tao. They are out of touch with the common Source. But the Tao is right there where it always has been.

It is the classic struggle; not between good and evil, but between the way things seem to be vs. the way things really are. The way things really are hasn’t changed. The turmoil is caused by the attraction of the illusion, the way things seem to be.

But, when you realize where you come from, that is transformative. Your whole perspective is changed. It is as if you are teleported to an entirely different plane of existence. Welcome to what is real.
This is detachment. It is the detachment I was trying to explain to my daughter. Detachment from the way things seem to be. So what does detachment mean? It is what you naturally become when you are in harmony with the way things are. You naturally become: Tolerant. Disinterested. Amused. Kindhearted as a grandmother. Dignified as a king. It means, Abigail, you are really free to love.

You are immersed in the wonder of the Tao. And in this plane of existence, you can deal with whatever life brings you. Even when death comes. Even then, you will be ready.

One thought on “It Is Transformative”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *