Thursday, October 10, 2019
Tao Te Ching – Chapter 64 (Part 1)
This uncharacteristically long chapter comprises several parts that may at one time have been separate. It reminds me of the book of Proverbs in the Bible, which contains many pearls of wisdom that can be considered as stand alone verses. Because of its length, I’m going to break discussion of this chapter into two posts.
Some key lines from the first part:
Peace is easily sustained
This is an interesting pronouncement in a world where peace has been elusive, from families to nations, across millennia. To me, this speaks to our natural state of alignment and harmony, easy to maintain if we refrain from interfering. The history of conflict at all levels and at all times in this world, has almost always been caused when we have shifted out of alignment because of fear. A Course in Miracles teaches that this fear results from our mistaken belief in separation, from each other and from God. Fear makes us want to control outside circumstances that are beyond our control. Inner conflict is then manifested externally.
What has not yet happened is easy to prepare for
Manage things before trouble arises
These lines remind me of the old adage “A stitch in time saves nine.” It also reminds me of how our practice prepares us for the unexpected. If my balance is improved by practicing tai chi, for example, I am less likely to fall if I miss a step or trip over something. If my inner alignment is rooted through practicing meditation, I’m less likely to be buffeted by an unanticipated challenge.
A long journey begins under the foot
This wisdom is often phrased as “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The character in this line, however, is actually the character for “foot” and the following character means “under.” This gives me a slightly different sense of this proverb. No matter where I’m headed, my present location is always exactly under my feet. No matter how many steps I take, I am always in the same “place,” that is, over my feet.
It’s like breathing. I will breathe my way all through my life’s journey, but the breath that matters is the one I’m taking right now.
No matter how you interpret this line, I think the point is that, to use another saying, “no matter where you go, there you are.” The present moment, standing on this ground, breathing this breath, is where I exist.
As I said, this chapter is more like pearls on a string rather than one big pearl. I hope these lines offer something helpful for your contemplation. I will continue the chapter in the next post.