Posts Tagged ‘Taoism’

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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“Human beings must be known to be loved; but Divine beings must be loved to be known.”
Blaise Pascal

Imagine if society as we know it were to completely crumble, ravaged with war, along with our complete loss of technology. Countries would soon begin to crumble; social unrest would cause unimaginable destruction. Lets take our imagination exercise further; during all of this chaos and destruction, only 5-10% of the human population survived. All technology and anything related to it is gone, and very few things such as books, paintings, or structures remain. Being resilient creatures it is only logical mankind will slowly start to re-build.

Everything we know today would be a distant memory. Soon future generations would have no idea what “The Mona Lisa” looked like, or in some cases didn’t even know it had existed. Now imagine if the Bible and all other religious scriptures had been destroyed in the mayhem. With every passing generation the concept of religion as we know it today would have all but disappeared. It would be foolish not to factor in the 5-10% of those who survived, for arguments sake lets say there was no one dominant believe system among the survivors. The people who survived each carried with them one of our many different theological beliefs, but no religious doctrine survived.

Let us continue down this rabbit hole of imagination and say a few Greek Mythology books survived the downfall of man (Yes I am aware this can be considered theology, but I include it only because unfortunately it has been downgraded to “mythology”.) Future generations would logically begin to worship Zeus, and the many other Gods behind said “mythology” and believe this to be religious fact. Even if these books did not exist it is possible for a new generation to create a completely different religion based on the remnants from the downfall. Of course these remnants would be added to with stories passed down from generation to generation.

I feel it is impossible to have a society without the driving force of religion; whether it is to calm fears or to control the population. Religion although perverted and corrupt is a necessity; eventually new religions would be formed to meet these needs. Imagine if the book “Moby Dick” survived the collapse of man. All it would take is one charismatic individual to start preaching the “religious” lessons contained in this book, and just like that a new religion is born. In time as other books are collected they are added to the “Holy Scripture.” Let’s say “Huckleberry Finn,” “Hamlet,” and “The Lord of the Rings” also survived. These various works of fiction are then woven together in a collection of stories to form a new Bible, and out they go to preach the Word, promising life hereafter in Middle Earth.

People are hardwired to need religion in their life, if this were not the case religion would have died out long ago as man discovered science and logic, because of this primal hardwiring they would latch onto this with all their might, replacing, refuting, and stumping scientific and logical advancements. I am sure whoever put this “Bible” together would take some liberties and add their own material just like the Catholics did when choosing which books to include in the Bible. This new congregation would set out to spread the gospels of William Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, and Herman Melville, murdering all those who believed differently then they do. In time this religion and its created deities would become reality.

Now here is my question. If all of these things were to actually happened, then does the God of the Bible now cease to exist? If no one knew what a Bible even was, would the God of the Bible come down and start interacting with humans to show us he still existed? Although God made a promise he would never do it again, would he burn then flood the entire world only leaving one family to partake in incest to rebuild the world? If we look at history there have been many different religions that people have blindly followed. As time passed newer, cooler, more convenient, and better suited religions for social control became dominant. Causing all of the long forgotten deities (sorry Zeus) to be left behind and forgotten.   

“He hoped and prayed there wasn’t an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped there wasn’t an afterlife.”
Douglas Adams

Is there such thing as an afterlife? Do we live on as energy, or is there a magical place we go when we die? If the answer to these questions is “no” then this means we simply just cease to exist. We burn out like a candle in the wind all but being forgotten years down the line. Questions such as these are what have been fueling my desire to find some form of divine power and intervention. For the first time in fifteen years I need my life to hold some meaning even though I know it doesn’t. I need unequivocal proof that a God exists and there are better things waiting for us when we pass. If I am not able to get this proof I desire I will continue to live my life in fear and panic over what will happen to me when I die. I will worry so much that I will forget to appreciate and cherish the present. Next thing you know death will be at my doorstep and I will be met with regret over the time I have wasted worrying.

This newfound need to enter the realm of the illogical has been plaguing me ever since my friend died. I have been haunted with the stark reality that he may no longer exist in any form. This breaks my heart, but this also stirred up a buried internal fear of no longer existing. Wait scratch that the knowledge that someday I will be void of thought scares me much more. This is freaking me out, so what do I do to try and find peace? I turn to my archenemy; religion. This once perceived almighty evil is infiltrating my life, and filling it with passed down stories of better things to come. I can no longer rely on my logical atheist ways. I have caved, but do I turn to the mightiest of faiths, or do I stay with Taoism or Buddhism?

I hope to find an answer which I feel comfortable with, because the constant anxiety and panic is overwhelming me. Here is the problem though; if I pick a religion will I ever “really” believe the teachings or will reason and logic keep me from fully committing? Will I get so desperate I just try to live a lie, and constantly need to trick myself to stay on faiths path? I remember Trey calling me a “disillusioned Christian” awhile back, but I would consider myself more as a “desperate atheist needing reassurance that my life has meaning and I will be able to continue to think until the end of time” type of person.

The thing I do not get with this quote is why anyone would want to hope there isn’t an afterlife? Isn’t it ingrained in our DNA to survive? If this is the case than our brains would be hardwired to at least hope our existence lives on. Perhaps this hardwiring in our brains and instincts is the foundation of religion. I know by experience that atheists do not believe in an afterlife, but I wonder if deep down inside part of them is at least hoping they are wrong; I know I am. I must be completely honest I sincerely admire those who are truly in acceptance with the fact that one day they will just cease to exist. As for myself I am going to sit here and hope and pray there IS an afterlife.

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

“Good listeners, like precious gems, are to be treasured.”
Walter Anderson

How many of us actually take the time to truly listen to someone? I like to think of my self as a good listener, but after further inner analysis I am very poor in this area. I have hundreds of things going on in my head and it is very hard for me to focus on one thing, and be in the moment. I think inside we want to believe we are listening to someone, but most of the time our minds are either elsewhere or we are thinking of what to say back. If this is the case then we are not really listening. One of the things the Tao tries to teach is listening and being receptive to what is being said. In this process we are open minded and are able to receive the speaker’s feelings and opinions. When the speaker sees we are open minded and receptive then they to become open minded and receptive.

My greatest sin when it comes to listening is if I need to defend or explain myself. If I am in a conversation where this is the case I immediately shut down to what the other person is saying and instead just keep repeating my response before I forget it. This whole time I am repeating my response I have now just missed a vital part of the conversation. I need to practice listening to the entire point, and then formulate my response. If I am listening without thinking of ways to defend or justify it leaves my ears and my mind open to what is being said. Perhaps I will process criticism in a better way, and be receptive to change.

When entering into a conversation with another person decide to approach these interactions involving other people with a completely fair mind-set, which you allow and trust to guide your response. I think the key word here is a “fair mind-set.” If we approach all of our conversations as an empty level playing field we can be better receptive to hear what the speaker is saying. We can do this because we are empty of judgments or personal opinions. By becoming empty we can truly hear what the person is saying, and perhaps we can actually hear their feelings and opinions instead of hearing our personal feelings and opinions.

Try to listen to someone express an opinion that’s the opposite of yours. Refuse to impose your position, and instead remark “I’ve never considered that point of view. Thank you for sharing your ideas with me.” By allowing a contrary position to be heard, you’ll dismiss ego’s attitude and welcome the flexibility of the Tao. I think when we are listening to someone it is important to acknowledge their opinions or feelings. By validating these feelings and opinions the speaker then feels comfortable and as a result becomes more receptive to what you may or may not say back to them.

I am sure there are hundreds of other ideas on how to become a good listener. I think this is an important trait to have yet difficult to achieve. I have worked for years on ways to become a better listener. There are times I am great and others not so well. This for me is an ongoing quest to achieve perfection in this area. If I were to be completely honest I think my major roadblock in achieving this is selfishness. I need to improve on placing others before myself. Hold on; I think I just cracked this code!! The way to become a better listener is to be selfless and put the speaker’s feelings before your own.

 It’s always nice to talk things out.

I am currently trying to learn Latin, and so far it has proven to be a daunting task, especially if you are trying to learn it on your own. I really wish I could afford Rosetta Stone. I have visited a few websites, and downloaded some books, but I am still having trouble with the language. So far I am able to say and understand the first four verses of the gospel of John. In my studies I have discovered that much of the English language has origins in Latin. With that being said I stumbled upon something very interesting. I noticed that the Latin word for “I” is “ego.” This was sort of an ah-ha moment for me.

My greatest enemy in life is my ego. In all my study and meditation on the Tao Te Ching I have discovered how harmful ego can be. It is literally destroying my marriage, and my life. I did a post a while back on “pride.” According to Pope Gregory I pride is the most damaging of the seven deadly sins. I am prideful to a fault, but after some advice from Rambling http://ramblingtaoist.blogspot.com/ I now believe pride comes from my ego. I try my best to live and follow the Tao but I question my dedication. I can read a verse and see the light contained within, but when it comes down to actually living it I fall way to short.

I think I live my life with too much “I” in it. I have admitted to myself and in therapy that I am a selfish person who thinks of himself first and foremost. It makes me sad when I actually verbalize this, because then it makes it so real. The question is how do I turn “ego” into “tu?” I wish I had the answer for this question. I think my selfishness is a built in defense mechanism; developed over time in my life. Which leads to another question; am I am just saying this as an excuse for my behavior? Am I taking ownership yet at the same time transferring blame?

There is nothing I hate more than self reflection. It is by far the most painful procedure I can endure. I have caused far too much hurt in my 31 years of existence, and very little joy. To say and realize this is an agonizing state of affairs. I dread this process; instead of facing it I just run to the hills. I wish there was a God I could pray to asking him/her to alter the past, but sadly even God cannot change the past. The devil can now frolic in my fields of sin. I am stuck with these sins for the rest of my life, and no amount of washing them in holy water will wash away the blood of damaged lives.

For better or worse I must reap what I have sown. I must live in these prison walls I have created. My misery is of my own doing, and karma is a bitch. My life of ego will never lead to a life of amor et gauisus peractio.

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.