Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Tao Te Ching – Chapter 16
Chapter 14 focused on the mystery of Tao. Chapter 15 described how one lives in harmony with Tao. This chapter celebrates the revelation of Tao through the manifestation of the “ten thousand things,” representing all creation.
Attaining complete emptiness
Abiding in perfect tranquility
Watch the ten thousand things
Arise and return
All things flourish
Then return to the root
This passage reminds me of sitting at the creek by my cabin. There is this one spot where I can sit comfortably on a flat rock and just ... watch. I watch the creek laughing by, birds bobbing on the bank for the insects flickering in and out of shadows. Under the giant trees, tiny moss forests bloom with even tinier red flowers.
One time a salmon paused right in front of me, resting for a moment on its upstream pilgrimage. Ah, the perfect example of flourishing and returning. The salmon’s birthplace sends it forth in youth to travel far, then calls it home. The salmon heeds the summons, swimming with unwavering intent to fulfill its destiny, returning to its origin to end one cycle of life and begin the next.
Buddhism teaches that everything is impermanent. Everything that lives will die. But life itself does not die. Each day succumbs to night, and returns in the morning to dispel the darkness.
Returning to the root is stillness
Stillness is destiny
Destiny is eternal
Knowing the eternal is enlightenment
The character for enlightenment 明 combines the sun 日 and the moon 月 . Light is without form or color. Only when it is separated into individual parts of the spectrum can we see color. I have a prism hanging in my window. When the morning sun streams in, the prism throws rainbows all over the walls and curtains. As the sun moves on, the rainbows disappear, leaving the sun’s radiance to fill the room without differentiation. Again, manifesting and returning.
So how do we know the eternal? We have a perfect reminder built right in. Breathing! I dance the eternal dance with every breath. Breathing in is the first thing I did when I was born...manifesting. When I die, my last exhale will complete the cycle...returning. And with each breath during all my years, I embody the natural harmony that is my existence. Not holding on or forcing, not denying or rejecting. My breath happens naturally if I allow it.
As does everything.
Life is Tao breathing. Manifesting as the ten thousand things and returning to Tao. The dance of being and non-being. Abide in perfect tranquility...and watch.
Be still and know that I am God. ~Psalm 46:10