Friday, January 11, 2019

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 54

This chapter beautifully expresses the nature of Te (the Te from the title Tao Te Ching) in every aspect of the universe.

Good rooting cannot be uprooted
Good holding cannot be taken away

Te is loosely translated as Virtue, but it does not mean virtue in the sense of morality or righteous behavior. We might think of it as the natural expression of Tao in the manifested universe. It is the form of the formless, the creation arising from the origin of creation.

The character for Te 德 offers insight. The left part of the character is the radical (or root) indicating forward movement. On the right side of the character, the cross on the top is the number 10, and it is placed above a horizontal rectangle meaning eyes. The lower part of the right side is the character for heart. So one way to think of the character is “moving forward with the powerful vision (10 eyes) of the heart” or “following the guidance of our inner sight.”

Te is naturally rooted and held in the limitless potential of its source, Tao, and therefore cannot be uprooted or taken away. When we are in alignment with Te, from the individual to all of creation, everything moves together in harmony.

The next section outlines the effect of alignment on these different levels.

When we practice or cultivate this alignment...
In the self, Te becomes genuine
In the family, Te becomes overflowing
In the community, Te becomes everlasting
In the nation, Te becomes abundant
In the universe, Te becomes omnipresent

The Tao Te Ching describes an approach to life that is contrary to the way many of us operate. We often move from the outside and the larger to the inside and the smaller. Rules are made by representatives theoretically for the good of society and we are obligated to follow them, subject to external enforcement. As a lawyer, I’m well aware of the massive, complicated, seemingly unending volumes of laws and regulations that govern so many aspects of our lives.

However, when we begin with the individual, internally aligned with the unhindered flow of Tao, Te naturally manifests through us. As we move outward in expanding circles, the family, the community, and so on, all become aligned in harmony.

In the absence of such alignment, we fall back on the next best thing, from morality to law to empty ritual, as described in Chapter 38.

It seems overwhelming when we seek to change world, but we can begin not by changing ourselves, but by allowing our true nature to reveal itself. In other words, we don’t need to change who we are; we need to be who we are. We do this first by seeing everything as it is. The end of the chapter counsels us to see with our inner sight all levels of the manifested universe.

I thus know everything under heaven as it truly is


  1. 'When we are in alignment with Te ( the natural expression of Tao),from the individual to all of creation, everything moves together in harmony.'

    This speaks volumes, Galen.

    There is a way of life that works in harmony with Tao. If we can live this way things will tend to go well. In the virtual reality theory of the universe, as proposed by some of our best theoretical physicists, they believe we have been given a rule set, we have choices and freewill but not all choices are best. I sometimes wonder if life is all one big ongoing growth in creative consciousness. It started 13.7 billion years ago and it is still developing. The universal laws of the Tao have been fine tuned and if we stay within its framework we live in harmony with Tao.'Good rooting cannot be uprooted,Good holding cannot be taken away' There seems to be a lifestyle for optimum health physically, mentally and spiritually and it involves a deliberate fine tuning of our entire being, in order, so that we can live in harmony with nature and Tao.

    1. That is a very interesting perspective from the physicists. We have such a drive to understand things, to explain them. I like what St. Augustine said about God. "If you can understand it, it's not God." Same could be said for Tao, I think.

  2. Galen, your post here so mirrors a book I'm reading right now entitled "True You." I've promised the author to do a review on my blog, and while generally, I shy away from such, this book is amazingly compelling, especially in this culture that values doing over being. What Michelle DeRusha is essentially saying in her book is what you've said here: " . . . we don't need to change who we are; we need to be who we are."
    I'm ever amazed at how God will align messages I'm hearing/digesting in one arena, only to have it reinforced in another. Just wow! May we be firmly and naturally rooted, as is Te.
    Blessings, my friend!

    1. I have had that experience just recently, Martha, when I heard from several sources a confirmation of what I had observed myself. I look forward to reading your book review.

    2. So great to know that you will, Galen. Thank you!

  3. '.....we can begin not by changing ourselves, but by allowing our true nature to reveal itself. In other words, we don’t need to change who we are; we need to be who we are. We do this first by seeing everything as it is.'

    Oh! That is so good, Galen.

    We change 'by allowing our true nature to reveal itself'. To 'be who we are' in the deepest sense will create the greatest change. This is why when we move away from our roots in a natural morality, we become subject to law, which eventually leads to empty ritual. 'By allowing our true nature to reveal itself' ...we are able to begin 'seeing everything as it is'. This removes the struggle to meet unrealistic expectations, we see our human nature as it is. It also removes fear, guilt and shame along with anxiety. Our true nature is already moral, universal law is written into our hearts intelligence and there is no need for empty ritual to get in right standing with Tao. There is no separation between our true nature and Tao, but when we live in disharmony with it, we perceive ourselves as isolated, then we rely more and more on ritual and the worship of form to narrow the gap, but this just feeds our sense of lack and separation even more. The only remedy is to allow our true nature to be revealed by surrendering our need to do something. We just need to 'be' who we are at our innermost core. Sounds simple!.. The journey from the mind to the heart is not far but it may take a lifetime to get there.

    1. Indeed, Brian. You have described it so well. If you look back at Chapter 38, you will see a hierarchy that reflects just what you have said here.

  4. I read your commentary on Ch 38 ...yes it all makes sense. This fall below ritual into confusion reminds me of the movie Idiocracy that I took a quick at last night.

    'The film tells the story of two people who take part in a top-secret military human hibernation experiment, only to awaken 500 years later in a dystopian society where anti-intellectualism and commercialism have run rampant, and which is devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and coherent notions of justice and human rights. '

    1. Thanks for the link, Brian. I will check it out.

  5. I enjoyed this post Galen - got me thinking, as all your posts do! I've learned that when you are truly yourself there is an openness that occurs within yourself which flows out into wherever you are and whoever you are that kind of fits with what you are saying. One moves from being tightly bound within oneself with defences operating to being released from these bonds and at the same time there is an acceptance and wonder of everything around you on a far bigger scale that is so more widely encompassing and that is such a special feeling. If more people could achieve this, what a positive change in the world that would bring...

    1. Your description of openness is perfect, Lynne. Someone asked me how we can tell if we are acting from a place of alignment. My response was that we can examine our inner energy to sense if it feels open or closed. Even one person achieving this changes the world. And as you say, the cumulative effect many people acting from this flowing openness can have an amazing effect.

  6. Hi Galen,
    Love your work on the Tao.
    I will write to you via email.

    1. Thanks Phil. Got your email. Thanks for getting back in touch and commenting. Hope you will stop by again soon.


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