Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 34

This is a beautiful little chapter about the relationship between Tao and the ten thousand things. (The “ten thousand things” is a poetic name for the manifested universe.) It begins with another water image for Tao. As we have already seen, water is the most often used metaphor for the nature of Tao. 

Great Tao flows everywhere
The ten thousand things depend on it
It gives birth and rejects nothing 

The character for “flows”   has a water radical on the left (those three little lines). The right side of the character means to spring forth, so there is a sense here of water welling up and overflowing, giving life and nourishment to all existence. Despite its infinite creative manifestations...

Tao never acts as ruler
Ever without desire it seems very small
Yet all things return home to Tao
So it is very great
Because it claims no greatness
It completes its work without self awareness
And thus is truly great

Although this last part does not expressly use the characters 无为 for wu wei or non-action, the concept of wu wei is present here. When we allow things to manifest and move according to their nature, Tao’s creative energy is expressed through us. These last three lines, in fact, are sometimes translated as referring to a wise person instead of Tao.

Have you ever been amazed at something you easily accomplished and wondered, “How did that happen?” Perhaps it seemed like you were just along for the ride while marvels unfolded. To me, that is what this chapter describes. When we surrender our own agenda and our own need for recognition, the true power of the universe moves all around us and through us. And miracles happen.

I am realistic – I expect miracles. ~Wayne Dyer


  1. Galen, when I was deeply entrenched in writing my novels, I would often experience the "How did that happen?" moments when scenarios I never dreamed were within me took shape. I believe it was the Holy Spirit moving in me and through me, guiding my thoughts and words. Yes, when we let go and submit, miracles can and do happen!

    1. Wonderful example, Martha. Thank you for sharing that.

  2. This is one of my very favorite poems contained in the Tao the Ching. With insights such as the Tao “does not Lord over us” and “…it claims no greatness, it completes its work without self awareness.” Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Is this not the christian vision for agape Love? Considering our own Judeo-Christian tradition presenting God as an “anthropomorphic being” ruling over us, Lao-tzu presents a very liberating vision.

    1. Liberating indeed, and much closer, I think, to what Jesus taught than much of what we hear from rigid doctrine.

      I just visited your site, Keith. What a treasure trove. Wow. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. and your website (for most of this year) has been available to my readers on Wisdom2be "Links" page :) Keep up the blessings!

    1. OH!! Then I am humbled to be in such illustrious company! Thank you!

  4. Not so much the "how did that happen" as much as the old "blind hog finds an acorn" for me, lol...

  5. While on our mission we had many experiences that we would marvel at the miracle that came about in our lives and or those whom we were working with. It came from a very loving Heavenly Father that knows us all in a very intimate way. He is in the details of our lives. The miracle is when we realize it is not a coincidence; it is a miracle. We have now learned to look for the miracles in our lives and there are many great and small.
    I loved reading Martha's comment above. The spirit does work through us and will help guide our thoughts and actions. When we let go and recognize the spirits direction, we can do things far beyond what we could do on our own.
    Blessings and hugs!

    1. Learning to look for the miracles--that is so perfect. Einstein said that we decide whether to see everything as a miracle or nothing as a miracle. And the writer SARK (her pen name is all caps) suggests going on miracle walks, where we look at everything we see as a miracle.

      And yes, Martha's comments are always inspiring! As are yours, LeAnn! Thank you.


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