Archive for the ‘Tao Te Ching’ Category

This blog like my mind is all over the place. Since 2014 the only connection between my posts is their randomness. I never considered if this was a good thing or not, and battled with my format several times. In the end I need to stay true to my mind and keep the randomness intact. Looking through my stats my most read posts involve Taoism and my interpretation of the verses, this is nothing new, although the theologian in me finds this rather intriguing. 

It’s been ages since I wrote my last post about the Tao Te Ching, in fact it has been ages since I have actively studied and put into practice the teachings of the Tao. As a result it is no surprise how unmanageable my life has become. 

Whether this is a direct coorilation or simply a coincidence is yet to be known. It’s been over a year since my mind has failed me leaving me broken and scattered. Perhaps returning to the teachings of the Tao things will begin to look a bit brighter as I become more centered. Now whether I actually wipe the dust from these ancient teachings remains to be seen. 

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Verse 25

There was something formless and perfect.

Born before heaven and earth

In the silence and the void.

It is serene. Empty.

Solitary. Unchanging.

Infinite. Eternally present.

It is the mother of the universe

I do not know its name

Call it Tao.

For lack of a better word, I call it great

Being great, it flows.

It flows far away

Having gone far, it returns

Therefore, the Way is great,

Heaven is great,

Earth is great,

People are great.

Thus, to know humanity,

Understand earth.

To know earth

Understand heaven,

To know heaven,

Understand the Way.

To know the Way,

Understand the great within yourself.

Lao-Tzu

According to scholars the twenty-fifth verse of the Tao Te Ching is considered to be one of the most significant lessons in the entire manuscript. I do not necessarily look at this verse as a significant lesson; instead I look at it as a creation story. The Tao Te Ching was written by Lao-tzu over twenty-five centuries ago. I interpret the first ten lines as describing the big bang. Considering how long ago it was written I think Lao-tzu nailed a concept that would not be known for centuries later. I was honestly wondering when a creation concept would be brought up, so I was relieved when I read this verse. I love the way he describes existence prior to the big bang when the Tao gave birth to the universe.

Lao-tzu says “there was something formless and perfect.” Whatever was before the universe was created will always be a mystery, but Lao-tzu says whatever it was it was perfect. I am a firm believer that the Tao created heaven, but in doing this he also gave birth to Gods. I believe the Gods we know today were created by the Tao.

Lao-tzu could not find the words to describe the Tao; all he could come up with is the word “great.” This greatness is responsible for everything that has and will be.  He says “being great, it flows. It flows far away. Having gone far, it returns.” I am sure this could be interpreted in many ways. I look at it as the process of dying and the journey of our shen. When we die we go to the center where the universe was born. This center is formless and perfect, and is where we all return. Having gone far to the center; we return. This comforts my fears of death and calms my anxiety over it. The atheist in me comes out from time to time to trample my visions of salvation, so I lack faith. I wonder if my lack in faith is the reason I cannot live the lessons of the Tao on a consistent basis? If this is the case then my journey should be that of faith. Once I find faith perhaps I will find understanding.

This verse touches on things being great. It starts with the Way all the way down to people. This is a tough yet great message for me. I do not see myself as great; therefore I can never realize greatness. If I dwell in my negative emotions then I will attract negative things. This concept is brought up in the last eight verses. Lao-tzu says to truly know the way you need to understand the greatness within you. Since everything stems from the Tao is great therefore I to should be great because I am a product of perfection. This is a great lesson to learn.

My theory and many others on why religion was created is because the fear of death and the unknown. Ever since man developed complex emotions, and were then confronted with the realization of death and the knowledge of what a hardship is; they needed to construct something that would ease their fears and give them peace of mind in a chaotic world. These forefathers of religion created sun gods and moon gods. They worshipped these things because they had no concept of what they were; all they knew is somehow these two things had massive affects on their daily lives. I would also like to quickly point out that many civilizations did rituals and prayed for rain. They had no concept of how rain worked so they tacked it on to their religious beliefs. Not only did the earliest man need explanations for things they didn’t understand; they also needed to find something to ease their fears of what happens to you when you die. This fear of the ultimate unknown is the sole reason we have religion today.

It takes a strong individual to live their lives knowing they will somehow cease to exist. I know all to well this is a heavy burden to bear. We all want something more to believe in. We all want to somehow feel special. We all want to know somehow we will live on. These are the key driving points for the construction of faith. To illustrate this point I would like to quote a comment from my post “Religion and Anxiety-Reduction Theories.”

“If God and religion are all man-made constructs and there is nothing after this life, then why bother?”

I think this comment illustrates my point perfectly. I have grown to admire this reader’s thoughts and opinions and in no way am I saying she is weak. She was most likely raised to believe this. I do however think this shows a small chip in the armor of her faith. I have heard this comment before, and usually follow with “Is this your driving force to believe?” I tend to stump people on this point because it forces them to re-evaluate their beliefs. If they believe simply because this is the only way to give life meaning, or the only way to quell their fears of death then their faith is flawed. In essence their belief acts as a band-aid to cover up the deeper fears they have inside. We bother because it is our moral and ethical duty to improve the lives of our fellow man. We are here to cultivate a positive way of life for other generations to come. We do not need religion to dictate us to achieve these things; we only need to look into our hearts.

Religion has evolved over time, but every religion is built upon one another. With each new version declaring they are the only version. The concept of a virgin birth was described well before Christianity was created. For example the birth of Buddha was described as a virgin birth in the “Nidanakatha”

“The Brahmans said, ‘Be not anxious, O king! Your queen has conceived: and the fruit of her womb will be a man-child; it will not be a woman-child. You will have a son. And he, if he adopts a householder’s life, will become a king, a Universal Monarch; but if, leaving his home, he adopt the religious life, he will become a Buddha, who will remove from the world the veils of ignorance and sin.'”

This is but one example;virgin births were also described in Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Mithra, Mithras, and the Greco-Roman Mythology. This is by no means the complete list I am sure it goes on and on. In addition to this Muslim, Hinduism, and Taoism also have stories of a miraculous births. The one I find most interesting is one that precedes Christianity and Judaism the ancient religion of Persia “Zoroastrianism.” In this religion it not only describes a virgin birth, but it also has the messiah, death and resurrection, a final battle between good and evil, and the resurrection of the dead to stand judgment. This and others are perfect examples to describe the evolution of religion.

Creation stories, miraculous births, the death and resurrection of a messiah, and end times are all parts of every religion past and present. Each and every religion is just built upon one another. With each new edition religion evolves into something different than what it was before. Religion is like a fable passed on from generation to generation. In a sense it is like playing telephone, with each new generation the original concept gets changed and turned into what we have today. I feel there have been no new changes to religion because we live in a society that does not allow a change to happen. Everything is set as is, and everyone knows what is on the table. Trying to change a religious concept via word of mouth is simply just not possible. Those who try ultimately end up being defined as cults. In the end the purposes to believe in religion are all the same. We ask the exact same questions are ancestors asked, and we share their same fears. We cling onto religion because it just makes sense. We tend to look at other religions and judge them compared to our beliefs. We turn our nose to them claiming we are right, and their beliefs are silly. I am just as guilty of this as they are.

I came up with the quote “conceived in the weak” not because I am calling the religious weak. I am illustrating how our beliefs at their core are because of our fears. I think I am the perfect example of this. Right now I consider myself as being weak, because I have lost the strength to accept the reality of nothingness. Once this fear crept into my conscience I immediately sought out religion to ease my fears. I am searching for answers to questions which cannot be answered. If I were to latch on to Christianity to make myself feel better I really wouldn’t be a Christian because the only reason I am a Christian is because I fear the great unknown. I would be a fake; a liar, and a coward. I desperately need to find faith, but I am hindered by my reasoning and logic. Perhaps all my new religious readers who have offered me guidance are the sign from God I have always asked for, but perhaps it is all just a coincidence. These are the questions I ask myself. I ask them because of the intense fear inside of me. Perhaps God is placing this fear inside of me, and delivered me my readers to bring me to God, but perhaps the fear is there because death is really f’ing scary.

If we did not fear death, if we did not fear the unknown, if we didn’t need to see the light within chaos there would be no need for religion.

Verse 24

If you stand on tiptoe, you cannot stand firmly.

If you take long steps, you cannot walk far.

Showing off does not reveal enlightenment.

Boasting will not produce accomplishment.

He who is self-righteous is not respected

He who brags will not endure.

All these ways of acting are loathsome, distasteful.

They are unnecessary excesses.

They are like a pain in the stomach,

a tumor in the body

when walking the path of the Tao,

this is the very stuff that must be

uprooted, thrown out, and left behind.

Lao-tzu

The 24th verse is about living without excess, Lao-tzu advises us to pull and discard our excess weeds. These weeds are ego-driven desires of self-importance. Our desire to feel important and our desires to brag and be boastful of our accomplishments are allowing our ego to drive us instead of the all giving Tao. It is this desire which keeps us away from walking the path of the Tao. The Tao teaches us that inner approval is healthy, but it is these mind frames of thinking you are better than anyone else which is destructive. These desires for self-importance are like a cancer on our souls. Our ego is our greatest enemy on our journey to discover the Way.

The verse starts with an analogy of standing on our tip toes. I believe this represents us trying to be greater than we are. If we try to fill ourselves with self-importance we will not be able to stand firmly. Lao-tzu’s advice is to stop trying to be what we are not, and instead live as we are. We should be humble in our daily affairs, and be content with who we are at all times. Everyday we should show gratitude for everything we have, and everything we are. Showing daily gratitude centers us and keeps us on the path of the Way. Practice focusing on what you have, and not what you want, then show gratitude for everything the Tao has given you. In the part about taking long steps; I think this advises us to live in the moment and not try so hard to get were going. Instead of focusing on our end goal we should be humble and enjoy the process.

The next part of this verse is advising us to not brag or be boastful. Showing off does not show enlightenment. Bragging about our accomplishments only make us look like fools. In the second verse of the Tao Te Ching it says “when the work is done, it is forgotten. That is why it lasts forever,” or in the ninth verse it says “retire when the work is done; this is the way to heaven.” These are all examples of working without bragging or taking credit for your hard work. It is nice to be acknowledged, but this should not be our primary goal. I see my faults in this part of the verse. I have written posts on my frustration with my writing career progress. I want to have five thousand visitors a day, and in my mind this would be an accomplishment worthy of bragging. In my mind I need to be successful immediately, or I am disappointed. I am standing on my tip toes and taking long steps. I need to just sit back and allow my writing career to happen.

I am most interested in the line “He who is self-righteous is not respected.” The definition of self-righteous is “a feeling of smug moral superiority derived from a sense that one’s beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person.” This is an interesting line in that the Tao condemns being holier than thou in our religious affairs. Unlike Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism do not send its followers out on missionary trips to spread the word. They do not pretend to be superior to others who believe differently. This is why you have never seen an inquisition in these faiths. The Tao does not judge you based on if you believe in the Way or not. It will still provide you with everything you need. I think this lesson is far different from some other religions out there, which is why I have found a spiritual home in this religion.

Instead of letting our ego drive us with the desire to boast, or only work for the accolades of a good job, we should instead be grateful for everything the Tao has given us. The Tao does not seek acknowledgement for all it does for us. The Tao does not come to us saying “look what I have done for you, now what will you do for me.” This is a lesson the Tao tries to teach us by example. We should not see ourselves as important or special for the gifts the Tao has given us. We should appreciate her, and her unselfish giving. The Tao teaches us to be a giver rather than a taker, we should be providing for others and ask nothing in return. The Tao always exists in a state of unlimited giving, and teaches us to do the same. If we are able to mimic this sense of gratitude and giving we will be closer to walking the path of the Way.

“By returning to radical humility and seeing the greatness within everyone you’ve than cleared your life of excessive self-importance…and this is the way of the Tao.”

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

“We do not attract what we want, but what we are.”
James Allen

This quote is taken from Allen’s masterpiece “As A Man Thinketh.” The title was taken from a verse in Proverbs chapter 23 verse 7 “as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is” This book has had a large impact on my life and in how I wish I could approach it. I carry it everywhere with me to read in case I need a pick me up, and I am overcome with negativity. The main point of Allen’s book is a man is literally what he thinks. This concept is right in line with the theory that if you think positive thoughts then positive things will be drawn to you, and if you think negative thoughts negativity will come to you. I am of the group who thinks you should plan for the worst and hope for the best. I am aware this frame of thinking will only attract negativity, but for some reason it is difficult for me to hold onto the positivity.

I want to attract many different virtues to try and become a better person, but in reality I am only attracting what I currently am, and what I currently am is nowhere near what I want to be. Allen says we are anxious to improve our circumstances, but we are unwilling to improve ourselves and because of this we remain bound. This is why I am taking therapy so seriously. I want to improve myself so my life, thoughts, and actions are those of a virtuous man. I have a picture in my head of what I want to become. This is almost the identical image I have had for years, yet I am unable to achieve it. I may have a great week or month, but then I slip into what I am. My issues and my thoughts were not taking care of, and as a result I end up losing the positive me.

I need to fill my mind with positive thoughts. Allen tells us every action and feeling is preceded by a thought. Everything we do is because of a thought. If we are able to fill our thoughts with positive virtues then logically we will make virtues decisions. These thoughts are fueled by positive self talk. If I allow negative self talk such as worry or anxiety to take over then I will be consumed with the negative. If I can fill my days with positive self talk; I in theory will yield positive results. When it comes to an anxiety or panic attack I struggle to find this right thinking. I often times get sucked into the moment and everything seems to spiral out of control.   

This book makes me think about my journey into living a Tao centered life. I want all these great lessons to become a part of my life and ultimately who I want to be. I want this, but it is just not who I am. According to Allen I can change this by thinking positive things at all times, and in the process work towards improving myself. One lesson from the Tao I always carry with me is this; first you need to learn it, think it, and then you live it. I suppose I am in the beginning stages of each step. This book gives me the hope that with enough hard work and enough positive thinking I will one day turn my life around to what I think I am into what I want to become.

James Allen  (November 28, 1864–1912) was a British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry. His best known work, As a Man Thinketh, was mass produced since its publication in 1903 and has provided a key source of ideas to countless bestselling motivational and self-help authors of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As a result he is considered the pioneer of the self help movement. As with many of Allen’s works, the book’s launch was quiet and its full impact was not felt until after his passing.

“We learn the inner secret of happiness when we learn to direct our inner drives, our interest and our attention to something besides ourselves.”
Ethel Percy Andrus

How common is selflessness in our culture today? Have we become a society where the “me” first mentality reins supreme? How many people out there can honestly say they put others needs before there own? I would imagine the percentage is rather small, but then again I have very little faith in our current humanity. I know there are many wealthy Americans who do great deeds of charity, giving away millions of dollars to various organizations, but are they doing this because they are putting others before themselves or are they doing these things for tax breaks, self-image, or some other form of self-interests. I know like our country I struggle with the disease of selfishness. When I slack on studying the Tao Te Ching, I tend to lose my center and allow ego and selfishness back to the forefront of my conscience. The days I am able to live by putting others before myself, tend to be my greatest Tao moments. I have learned so much from the Tao thus far, but I have a hard time living the lessons on a daily basis. I would love nothing more than to rid myself of my most embarrassing character flaws, but this has proven to be a hard habit to break.

Ever since I started writing I have directed my inner drive on achieving my writing goals; neglecting my other responsibilities. There was a time when I would get home from work and do nothing but write until it was time for me to go to bed. Naturally this produced friction in my marriage and my ability to be a good father. My interests and attention was focused in a selfish manner, and my happiness was greatly impacted. Once I started to let this desire go I noticed a greater sense of happiness inside of myself as well as my family. I also noticed how much my happiness was affected by this simple change. Now this could be because my selfish focus on my writing was causing so many arguments, and now they were not, or it could be because of how I felt about myself knowing I was putting others before me. I know my wife and kids are happy I made this transition. Yes there are days where all I want to do is write, but if I only do this once every other week or so then I am met with love and understanding from my family. The question I need to answer is finding balance. When I do not work at home my writing suffers, but when I do get sucked into writing I can’t seem to find a happy balance.

There are some aspects of my life where I need to be selfish and that is in managing my mental health. For many years I felt guilty for shutting down and tuning out when I finally hit a mental wall. I have since talked to my therapist and she reassured me that being selfish when managing your MI is actually a good thing. I can only go so long before my mind and body begin to deteriorate. I for the most part have been good at recognizing my symptoms prior to just completely breaking down. When I recognize this I immediately need a few days to shut down and recharge. I need to have little to none negative or hyper stimulation, and I either need to cuddle on the couch and watch television or play Madden. My therapists praised me for being able to identify my current state and know what I need to correct this. My wife is understanding of this and accommodates me well. My problem is I will turn a weekend or evening of recharging into two-weeks of laziness. I have transformed productive selfishness into damaging and negative selfishness.

I work everyday at trying to put others before myself. I am a bit frustrated with my progress to this point. I began studying the Tao Te Ching ten months ago. It has taken me this long to get through twenty-five verses. I feel like I should still be on the first verse. Should I really move on to the next if I have not yet mastered the lessoned learned from each verse. The first verse talks about turning desiring into allowing. The verse says to sit back relax, and stop trying so hard to achieve something, instead just allow it to happen. Although this verse does not directly mention selflessness it is perfect for my selfishness because in times I want to get something done, it is all I think about and I become irritated when something stands in my way. The third verse builds on this concept and says it much better “practice not doing. When action is pure and selfless, everything settles into its own perfect place.” Now if I could just live this everyday I would be golden. 

“The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.”
Ethel Percy Andrus

Our country is founded and thrives on capitalism, where greed and selfishness are the building blocks. Imagine a world where every citizen inhabiting our planet stopped with the “me” first mentality and instead lived to serve their fellow man. There would be no war, poverty, violence, starvation among many other things. We would live in a world where the rich would shelter the poor, instead of stepping on top of them. Sick adults and children would receive life altering medical care, not because they have insurance but because it is the right thing to do. If every one of us took the very first step towards thinking of others in time we would live in a much better world, but who am I to talk. If I cannot cure the disease of selfishness in my own life how can I ask others to change theirs?

Verse 23

To talk little is natural:

Fierce winds do not blow all morning;

a downpour of rain does not last all day.

Who does this? Heaven and earth.

But these are exaggerated, forced effects,

and that is why they cannot be sustained.

If heaven and earth cannot sustain a forced action,

how much less is man able to do?

Those who follow the Way

become one with the Way.

Those who follow goodness

Become one with goodness.

Those who stray from the Way and goodness

become one with failure.

If you conform to the Way

its powers flow through you.

Your actions become those of nature,

your ways those of heaven.

Open yourself to the Tao

and trust your natural responses…

Then everything will fall into place.

Lao-tzu

I have been reading this verse over and over again and doing nothing but spinning my wheels. I just kept trying to find the meaning and how to articulate it. Whenever I am stuck in life, or in my journey through the Tao I will consult my wife. If I read her a verse she immediately can point out the meaning as if she has known this stuff her entire life. My wife and my son are the two most enlightened Taoist I have ever known, and neither are Taoists. The amazing thing is how quick she picks up the meanings and does a wonderful job articulating that meaning to me. I am being honest with you when I say she should really be writing these things not me. When I read it to her she looked at me funny and said “how do you not get it?” She went on to say that this verse is a great lesson to be learned by me. After a brief talk my eyes were opened to a few things.

When I looked into the analogy of storms not lasting forever I think the message is no matter how hard life gets it is but a passing storm. When it talks about heaven and earth not being able to sustain a forced action I translated that to mean if Mother Nature cannot sustain a storm that lasts a lifetime, than neither can any of our troubles last forever. This is a comforting statement for me considering I have a penchant for dealing with dark storms. When my darkness comes my mantra I say over and over in my head is “this to shall pass.” I think this is part of what the message Lao-tzu was trying to get across.

My wife saw a different translation. She said that heaven and earth not being able to sustain a forced action (storm) means that man cannot sustain a forced life. In this she explained trying to force things that should just be let go and allowed to flow. She brings up my OCD and how because of my compulsions I try to force things to be a certain way and control my surroundings to ease my anxiety. She said that this type of lifestyle cannot be sustained because things are being forced, being forced is not natural and will eventually wear you and the world around you down, just as if it were to storm and blow fiercely for days on end, nothing could sustain that.. This can also be true in the sense of trying to always be in charge, always be right and always in control. These types of behaviors cannot last forever and indeed go against the very laws of nature.

Lao-tzu urges us to follow the Way and to follow goodness. How true is it that those who follow goodness become goodness!! Its simple, you are what you do, you follow negativity, negative will come, you are disrespectful, disrespect will come to you, you are self-centered, and you will be all by yourself. Life will always give back what you give to it. Living as nature does is how we are supposed to live. When troubles come bend not break, for after the storm you will be standing tall once again. Nature moves along naturally nothing is forced every action is as it is supposed to be. Every reaction is in line with the Way. I think conforming to the Way is probably one of the hardest steps. First when I see the word conform or what have you I immediately feel the urge to do the complete opposite. If we live as nature does, if we flow like a river, listen more and talk less the power of the Way flows through us and with us. When our actions are one with nature we are living a Tao centered life, and our ways transform into the ways of heaven.

I look at a current conundrum I am in. I had this great idea for a gift for my wife. My wife sacrifices everyday for our family and I cannot remember the last time she thought about her self first. So I had this great gift idea, but the problem comes where we may not have the money to get it. She chose to get gifts for others instead of the gift for herself. I get this, but I really think she deserves this gift and it is perfect in my mind. My ego wants to step in and control the situation and say “this is what we are going to do, okay great let’s get it done.” This forceful approach has done nothing but cause problems. I need to step back take a deep breath and just allow whatever was meant to happen will happen. If we have the money then the gift will come if we don’t then it wont. I need to be at peace with this situation regardless of the outcome, and let the natural order just happen. I am happy to report that I was able to get her gift and she loved it. Amazing how the Tao works.

If we are living a Tao centered life trusting our natural actions and reaction without ego-driven thought and actions then we are at one with nature. If we are one with nature and ultimately the Tao then everything will always fall into place. This is by far the most comforting piece for me. The knowledge that if I trust in a power greater than myself and follow the Taos lessons then everything will always fall into the exact place it is supposed to be.

 Verse 22

The flexible are preserved unbroken.

The bent become straight.

The empty are filled.

The exhausted become renewed.

The poor are enriched.

The rich are confounded.

Therefore wise men embrace the one

And set an example to all.

Not putting on a display,

They shine forth.

Not justifying themselves,

They are distinguished.

Not boasting,

They receive recognition.

Not bragging,

They never falter.

They do not quarrel,

So no one quarrels with them.

Therefore the ancients say, “Yield and overcome.”

Is that an empty saying?

Be really whole,

And all things will come to you.

Lao-tzu

When I read this verse I think about my very good friend who is going through a rather rough patch in his life. He is suffering some great trials and tribulations and I feel how he handles it will make or break him. If he stands rigid and wallows in his misfortunes he will most likely break amidst his personal storm. If he stays flexible and goes with the storm like a palm tree he will be preserved unbroken. If he yields he will overcome. Dr. Dyer uses the example of a palm tree in a hurricane to illustrate the lessons in this verse. Even with winds of up to 200 mph the palm tree survives even though other trees are being ripped from the ground. The secret of the palm tree is its flexibility. It moves with the winds sometimes all the way to the ground. When the storm has passed the palm tree remains straight.

The first few lines of the 22nd verse of the Tao Te Ching gives me the same feeling of hope as in the book of Matthew. I know it is not an exact match but the feeling I get from this verse is the same I get from reading Jesus’ speech on top of the mountain. I feel a great sense of hope when I read these words. In embracing the one you will become flexible able to withstand anything life throws your way. When you hit a point where you are empty and life is dragging you by the heels rejoice because you will be filled. There is something comforting in these words. To me it gives me strength to weather my own personal storms. I take solace in knowing when I am completely empty I will be filled. I find peace in realizing everything I need is already given to me. I hope one day I can completely embrace the one and be a teacher to others.

I know I have said this before but the Tao Te Ching like other religious scriptures covers many of the same concepts. This verse gives us lessons to confront our greatest enemy our very own ego. If we stop trying to become noticed all the time whether it be at our jobs, with our friends, or in a relationship we will shine brighter. If we stop justifying ourselves all the time we will be heard. This is hard for me because I feel I need to justify myself all the time. I feel a compelling urge to always be right, and I will fight my point to the bitter end. I am certain if I were to shut my mouth and remain open minded to the words I am hearing the outcomes would improve ten fold. Not only would I truly hear what is being said; my points will then be better received. If we choose to listen and not argue or fight with those around us then no one will quarrel with us. If we are living a Tao centered life, then how can anyone truly be offended by your actions?

We need to plant a palm tree seed within ourselves nurtured with the greatness of the Tao. Our roots should be grounded in a Tao centered life. If we can accomplish this we can weather any storm. Like the palm trees in nature everything they need to survive is provided to them by the Tao. The reason these things are provided because the tree is receptive to the Tao’s nourishment. We need to have this same kind of faith, we need to trust that everything we need is here right now, and everything we will ever need will be provided as long as we are receptive. The Tao isn’t trying to get somewhere other than where it is. It has no goals, desires, or judgments it flows everywhere because it is the energy of creation. We are taught to be empty. I think the only way we can be filled is by becoming completely empty. We need to rid ourselves of possessions, attachments, desires, and ego. If we become empty and receptive we will be filled with the loving energy of the Tao.

Okay so I am working on this poetry book inspired by the Tao Te Ching. I plan on adding my own translation of all 81 verses. I am not going to alter it to the point where the meaning is lost; I am going to just change a few words. I am not sure but I think you need to alter the translation so you do not do any copyright infringement. So I am going to include the verse then after the verse I am going to include 1-4 poems inspired by the corresponding verse. I plan on self publishing this title as I did for the last two since publishing a poetry book with a publishing house is damn near impossible. I am enjoying working on this project because it causes me to look deeper into the Tao Te Ching, and develop a deeper understanding of the great Tao. I would like to include the first verse along with my two rough drafts poems to go along with it. Please any feedback would be helpful.

Verse 1

The Tao that can be spoken, is not the eternal Tao

The Tao that can be named, is not the eternal name

The Tao is both named and nameless

As nameless it is the origin of all things

As named it is the Mother of the universe

Ever desiring one can only see her manisfistations

Ever desireless, one will see her mystery

These two spring from the same source, but differ in name

The mystery is the doorway to all understanding

This doorway is the gateway to heaven

Lao-tzu

I constructed this verse with four separate translations. I added two things first I said “the Mother of the universe.” The original verse uses the “Mother of 10,000 things.” I have never really liked this usage. I believe the Tao is the Mother of everything and I believe she gave birth to the universe when the big bang happened. I was always turned off by the ten thousand things reference. I also added at the end “this doorway is the gateway to heaven.” I hope this will not turn people away from this book, I just think a few things can be added to explain the meaning more. Okay so now I am going to include my two poems.

Verse 1 Poem

I am unknowable

Unseeable

Yet I am in your thoughts

I am right before your eyes

Everything comes from my center

Just as the center of your chi

everything that has or will be is my essence

Let go and allow me in

I will show you understanding

Stop trying to make your life work

Let it be

Allow me to show you the Way

Tim Lundmark

Verse 1 Poem

I cannot be named

Try and I will escape you

Strictly desiring me; all you will see are things

If you choose to desire your possessions

And I will flow through your fingers

Be desireless

And I will flow with you

Stop trying

Simply allow

Then I will show you the mystery of the Way

Tim Lundmark

The tough part I am finding is capturing the main message of the verse in poetry form. I am not too happy with my first drafts and definitely feel like there is room for improvement. For now I am going to continue studying these verse’s and find the true meaning. I do not expect to find understanding within the Tao within a short period of timed. This will probably take me a year or so to finish. I just wonder since I am self-publishing if this is even worth my time.

Verse 21

The greatest virtue is to follow the Tao and the Tao alone.

The Tao is elusive and intangible.

Although formless and intangible,

it gives rise to form.

Although vague and elusive,

it gives rise to shapes.

Although dark and obscure,

it is the spirit, the essence,

the life breath of all things.

Throughout the ages, its name has been preserved

in order to recall the beginning of all things.

How do I know the ways of all things at the beginning?

I look inside myself and see what is within me.

Lao-tzu

Here is where I get lost and almost turned off by the Tao Te Ching. I am not going to try and guess what Lao-tzu may or may not be saying in this verse; instead I am going to give my theory on what the Tao is. I do not like the first line where it says to “follow the Tao and the Tao alone.” I think this is greatly out of place for any conceptions of what the Tao is supposed to stand for. The Tao does not pass judgments based on whether we believe or not. The Tao will always provide for us whenever or whatever we need. I suppose I was hoping the Tao Te Ching would not take me down the path of an “exclusive” faith. With that being said I am still in the infancy stages of learning about the great Tao, just like the Bible I cannot expect to fully understand by just reading and meditating on the first twenty-one verses. I hope by the time I reach the 81st verse I will have a great understanding of the Tao’s teachings, and with guidance from such readers as “The Rambling Taoist” I may obtain better understanding. I am sure this will be a long process there are times I still find myself going back to the first verse.

I believe the Tao is the beginning of life itself. I think the big bang was the Tao giving birth to everything in the universe. The Tao continue to create and take away life. It is never-ending. In some verses of the Tao Te Ching the Tao is referred to as the “Mother of 10,000 things.” In my translation I have changed this to the Mother of the universe.” I think this fits better. In the fourth verse of the Tao Te Ching it states that the Tao is the father of God Himself. I believe this is the very God of the Bible, Quran, Torah, and insert any religious belief here_______. I find it interesting that the Tao says “Father.” This insinuates to me that God’s are created by the masculine which is destructive compared to the life giving essence of the feminine.

I was having a conversation with an old friend months ago, and he was telling me about his religious beliefs. I was amazed by his insight, and while I was listening to him a light bulb went off inside of me and it made so much of the Tao’s origin made sense to me. I am not going to get into great detail on his beliefs, but he describes the center of the universe is where all life goes and returns to. It sounded like this giant sphere of light and energy. He said this is heaven, the place where all life comes and returns to. I believe this to be the center of the Tao; the center of all creation. I believe Nebulas are the Tao’s womb, the birthplace of stars, and with stars comes solar systems, within solar systems are planets, and within planets are life or death. We as humans would not have evolved if things were just slightly different. We may have ended up like Venus or Mars, but we didn’t and through billions of years we are what we have become. A blessing mixed with happenstance.

I believe when you die your shen returns to the center only to return to another place when it is ready. I believe in reincarnation, but not in the sense the Buddhist believe. I do not think you need to reincarnate in stages until you reach Nirvana, I believe Nirvana is the center and you travel to it every time you pass. This is the place where everything becomes one. I believe your shen is aware and possess conscience. This is where you reunite with loved ones.

In the end I have no idea if this is true. I want so badly to believe this to curb my sense of fear over death. I want to know my loved ones are in a better place. When I first started re-reading the Tao Te Ching I tried to look at Taoism as a philosophical guiding stick on the proper way to live. It was a year ago I really tried to understand Taoism on a spiritual level, since then it has had a bigger impact on my development as a person. This desire to believe and have faith in the Tao on a spiritual level only came after my best friend passed and I was once again confronted with my own mortality. Like the first verse says no one can describe or define the Tao, when we try it is not the eternal name. I think this is something we all must try to describe to further us down our spiritual path.