Posts Tagged ‘Heaven’

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.

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Become totally empty.

Let your heart be at peace.

Amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings,

observe how endings become beginnings.

Things flourish, each by each,

only to return to the source…

To what is and what is to be.

To return to the root is to find peace.

To find peace is to fulfill one’s destiny.

To fulfill one’s destiny is to be constant.

To know the constant is called insight.

Not knowing this cycle

leads to eternal disaster.

Knowing the constant gives perspective.

This perspective is impartial.

Impartiality is the highest nobility;

the highest nobility is Divine.

Being Divine, you will be at one with the Tao.

Being at one with the Tao is eternal.

This way is everlasting,

not endangered by physical death.

Lao-tzu

 The sixteenth verse describes the constant of change, while recounting the cycles of life. The one thing we can always count on in life is change. Nothing ever remains the same. The seasons change, relationships begin then end, and all life will someday become death. All things come then they go. The Tao does not play favorites in this process The Tao will bring winter whether we are ready for it or not. The Tao will return all things to the source whether we believe in it or not. The Tao does not answer prayers, but provides you with everything you will ever need. When a door closes the Tao opens a new one. These examples all show change. Observing endings becoming beginnings is a great way to deal with death, the loss of a job, or the ending of a relationship. Understanding when one door closes another one opens is a great coping method and a divine way to live ones life.

Lao-tzu advises us to become empty and allow our hearts to be at peace amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings. I think Lao-tzu is trying to teach us coping methods for how to deal with the numerous changes we encounter in life. His 2,500 year old description of the “rush of worldly comings and goings” fits perfectly well with where we are today. Life is hectic and crazy, and many of us have issues with the consistent changes we encounter.

Many of us are afraid of change. We avoid it as much as we can. I am a creature of habit. When things change around me whether it be changing of routines, or the changing of the seasons I am unable to cope. I become either manic or slip into a depression. I need to learn to embrace this constant and allow myself to be in harmony with the Tao. I need to become an observer of the life around me and appreciate the cyclical nature of all things.

I suffer from a mild case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, because of this I have a harder time with things outside my routines. For example I need to park in the exact same spot when I go to therapy. If I am not able to park in my spot I become agitated and then flip into the mode of needing to control every aspect of my surroundings. I try to recreate how everything looked the last time I was there. I will try and arrange the chairs in the waiting room in perfect order. I begin to have severe anxiety and panic attacks. I tried this lesson on Tuesday when I went to therapy. I grabbed my prayer beads and counted my twenty seven progressions. With each deep breath I imagined myself becoming empty, and my heart being at peace. To my surprise this tactic worked. I still had anxiety, but it was reduced to just a minor bother.

In the sixteenth line of the sixteenth verse it say “impartiality is the highest nobility.” The seventeenth line says the highest nobility is divine. For some reason I am drawn to these two lines. I had an idea, but I was not 100% sure the exact meaning of “impartiality.” The definition I received was the ability to weigh both views and opinions equally. I look into myself, and realized this is a trait I am lacking in. When it comes to things affecting me personally I am unable to see others views and feelings as equally as my own. I am not sure I can even say I am impartial when it comes to looking outside my circle and see issues equally. I will continue to meditate on this to try and find the answer.

Every religion has an explanation for what happens to you when you die; Taoism is no exception. Taoism says everything will return to the source to what is and what is to be. Now whether this is Heaven, Nirvana, or reincarnation no one will know until we pass. I interpret this as reincarnation. My theory is your shen (what is) leaves your body, and returns to the center of everything in the womb of our mother the great Tao. When you leave this womb you return back to any planet and enter into a new life (what is to be.) As a former atheist I know this sounds crazy, but somehow seems right. I have always been afraid of death and the great unknown; but the sixteenth verse brings me peace. I may not know what the outcome is, nor will I attempt to understand it, because the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The constancy between life and death returns us to our root. I find peace in knowing I will return to the source of all things, this nameless placeless site of all of our origination.