Hey there ! The Dixie Taost here with a study of the
Tao Te Ching. This talk is about –
“The Nature of the Tao”
Reading from Chapters 1, 4, 6, 11, 34
The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the nature of heaven and earth
The named is the mother of myriad of things
Thus constantly without desire one can observe its essence
Constantly with desire one observes its manifestations
The two merge together but differ in name
The unity is said to be the mystery
Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders
This very first chapter in the Tao Te Ching seems to offer a paradox. The first time I read it, I reread it several times trying to get to the context of what was being said. One may wonder, that if the Tao cannot be named why do we call it the Tao?
The author of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu is explaining to us that that we cannot name something so infinitely complex. The message is that by naming a thing, we tend to limit it. When we limit the infinite source of all things in the universe, we have limited our ability to connect to the infinite source.
It is the nature of the ego mind to to quantify and define everything. The ego mind, the ignorant self is always acquiring and accumulating. The initial part of this process is to define a thing or concept by putting a name or label to “it”. So this very first lesson for the Tao cultivator is realize and accept that the source, the path …
the Tao is mysterious and beyond our full understanding. Thus … it is futile to limit the unlimited by giving it a label. However, it is necessary, for the sake of language and discussion that we call “it” something, so we will call it the Tao understanding that it is just a name and in no way comes near explaining the full mystery.
In verse 5, it says
Thus constantly without desire one can observe its essence
When we have transcended the physical domain and realized the true self,… the spiritual self… we can observe the essence of the Tao.
Verse Six: Constantly with desire one observes its manifestations
Constantly with desire is the ego mind firmly grounded in materialism and desire. So all that ego can perceive is
This is the dichotomy of our life path. Two sides of the coin where one aspect is the spiritual self and the other, the physical self is how we have the spiritual experience.
As a spiritual being capable of physical experience, we can experience life through our senses.
The two merge together but differ in name.
The path of the Tao cultivator is one where the human being realizes both and brings them into balance. When the balance is dominated by the physical aspect of self, the ego, our path follows one of materialism and only observes its manifestation.
Verse 8 The unity is said to be the mystery
Verse 9 Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders
Thus the great mystery that in later chapters is refered to as “mystic virtue”. Being the mystery of mysteries, it is the door to all wonders and cannot be named.
Following the path of the Tao is the balancing of these perspectives to realize a merged unity. This unity is said to be the great mystery or “mystic virtue”. Mystic virtue is the door to all wonders. Mystic virtue is an important topic unto itself, and discussed in another discussion.
The important point being made here today is to realize how the ego would dismiss the infinite power of the ultimate infinite source, “The Great Tao”.
You may recognize the mindset that takes the stance that if it can not be touched, smelled, heard, tasted or seen, it does not exist nor does it deserve merit. If it cannot be named it worthless and does not exist. This very limited view is pure ego, and disconnect consciousness from creative source. Call it non-inspiration. It is a disconnect from the true nature of the Tao.
The next chapter is
The Tao is empty
When utilized it is not filled up
So deep it seems to be the source of all things
Its blunts the sharpness
Unravels the knots
Dims the glare
Mixes the dust
So indistinct ! It seems to exist
I do not know whose offspring it is
Its image is the predecessor of the Emperor
So the obvious question here is
“how can emptiness or nothingness be a source of all “things”?
Lets consider the big bang.
Quantum Scientist theorize that before the big bang, there was emptiness, or at least a moment of nothingness. Then suddenly, BANG and everything we now can perceive came through in one massive explosion that is not only continuing but is also accelerating in its expansion. One moment nothing, … the next …the universe is filling up with stuff. In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu refers to all the stuff and 10,000 myriad of things”. So anytime you hear or see the phrase it is referring to everything that has formed since the big bang.
In the 13.8 billion years since the big bang, a lot has come and gone. Stars have formed and then self destructed.
Even in the 4.5 billion years that the earth has been around, so much has come and gone and is in a constant evolution of change.
Through constant change everything we can perceive comes and goes.
Whether it is a mountain or a human life, everything comes into form and then deconstructs back into the original components of the big bang.
These components then become part of a new form, some new creation that nature brings forth in a continuing and eternal cycle.
So in this now what we believe we understand is a lot different from what we … as humans…. understood 500 years ago.
One can wonder what the understanding will be 500 years from now. So even knowledge and understanding is subject to the law of change.
The valley spirit, undying
Is called the mystic female
The gateway of the mystic female
is called the root of heaven and earth
It flows continuously, barely perceptible
When utilized, it is never exhausted.
The Tao Te Ching continues with sharing with us how the Tao is the inexhaustible source of everything. It is the creative source and the creative that gives birth to everything, thus Lao Tzu refers to the Tao as the “mystic female”.
Higher consciousness is our spiritual connection to this source.
We cannot fully understand the mystery but we can begin to realize that recycling of form as an inexhaustible source.
Thirty spokes join in one hub
In its emptiness there is the function of a vehicle
Mix clay to create a container
Cut open doors and windows to create a room
In its emptiness, there is the function of a room
Therefore, that which exists is used to create benefit
That which is empty is used to create functionality
In the beginning, the Tao cultivator may not be able to comprehend how nothing or “emptiness” can have value. Yet, with contemplation, we can begin to see that emptiness as a source holds the potential for everything.
When emptiness gives function to the solid, we begin to appreciate the potential inherent in the void or emptiness.
If we only allow ourselves to focus on the tangible ( the material domain, only the physical senses) we will not be able to be creative and be inspired by source.
When we empty our mind, we unify our conscious (awareness) with the emptiness of source. When our mind is cluttered with sensation seeking and emotional drama, we are spiritually deaf to what is potentially read to connect to us.
When we do finally quiet the mind for even just a small duration, in that empty space, we become one with and unite with the infinite potential.
When our minds are resolute in only accepting that which is black and white, or when we mistakenly think that everything is absolute, we remove the ability to be creative. Creativity is born in possibility and potential.
When we consider things in only the absolute, we remove possibility. What if our ancestors refused that something solid like steel could never be used as something that would float on water, ships would still be limited to just wood.
Or what if our predecessors refused to believe that a solid object could fly, there would be very little advancement in airplanes, jets and rockets. In this way we can appreciate how emptiness gives rise to possibility. We see how emptiness provides functionality to concept.
The great Tao is like a flood,
it can flow left or right
The myriad of things depend on it for life but it never stops
It achieves it work but does not take credit
It clothes and feeds myriad things but does not rule over them
It can be named great
Even in the end, it does not regard itself as great
That is how it can achieve its greatness
Source is creating, changing, flowing incessantly in an omnipresent function that life thrives on.
The flow is life. In Qigong we call this creating and sustaining life force “ Qi “.
When we align our consciousness with the flow, we can begin to perceive the source. When we realize that the universe itself is self aware and when we align our own consciousness it,
we are one with the infinite source of all.
The self aware universe does not have ego, it just is. It is unorganized, undifferentiated choas. It is pure potential that only need consciousness to bring forth possibility into reality. This spiritual connection is an extension of the true self, or the spiritual self.
The self of the physical domain, the ego gravitates toward materialism and the tangible. As a realized spiritual being we can emulate the Tao and be unified with the flow. LIke the Tao we need not take credit.
This need to be seen and to take credit is pure ego. Selflessness is the being free to serve one’s ego which can be labeled by names like “me” “myself”.
By being free of neediness of being seen as great and seeking greatness will open the space or emptiness for greatness will flow through us without effort, like water in flood around obstacles.
There are other chapters in Tao Te Ching explaining the nature of the Tao. There are lots of verses that advise how to be like the Tao, or source.
You are called to explore these and seek the wisdom.
By waking up from distraction and the ego self, you can align with your spirit, .. .your true and authentic self, which is already in alignment with the Tao. One just has to realize this. True self realization.
By learning mediation, to free the mind and align with emptiness, you provide the means of aligning with source. Letting go of the thinking mind and learning to just be, is to awaken as the true self.
You, as a spiritual being, once again having this physical experience, can realize clarity and realize the true nature of the Tao, the ultimate and eternal source.