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Everything and Nothing…

February 15, 2010

For the purposes of learning and writing, I’m using the Feng translation of the Tao Te Ching, which has been graciously shared by the website http://www.thebigview.org. I had acquired another translation of the Tao Te Ching, but after reading through it, I had discovered that it had been a politicized translation, with the interpreter using Lao Tzu’s ancient scripture as an opportunity to promote a political agenda. While I understand that I am but a seedling in my learning of Taoism, I know enough to know that Taoism is neutral to most aspects of life.

Tao Te Ching 1

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name.

The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of the ten thousand things.

Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. Ever desiring, one sees the manifestations.

These two spring from the same source but differ in name; this appears as darkness.

Darkness within darkness. The gate to all mystery.

In beginning to learn and understand Tao, the first thing to grasp is that there is no beginning to Tao. Tao is the way of all things – life, the universe, nature, mankind, weather, Earth – everything. So vast and comprehensive is Tao that it cannot be identified by name (save for “Tao”). To dissect it, categorize it, organize it, label it, or address it in any of its parts is to already lose sight of what Tao is.

I have learned in my reading that Lao Tzu utilized the phrase “the ten thousand things” to address all the small and great evils of mankind. It is in our abandonment of Tao, our deviations from the natural way of life and the universe, that we develop and see all the things that destroy us. It is when we try to resist the unstoppable forces of life that we struggle with worry, fear, and frustration. We grapple with our existences, trying to learn all we can about how the universe works so that we can manipulate it to our advantage, losing sight of everything that we can learn by simply stepping back and looking around us. Too much of mankind is determined to change and control things rather than understand them and learn to live harmonically with them.

When we allow desires and passions to rule our hearts, we begin to see things as either ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ recognizing things as obstacles, hurdles, or blockades against us acquiring or achieving the things we crave. Of course, it’s only natural for us to want things we do not have, to seek a purpose in our lives, but these longings must be paired with an acceptance of the fact that life will not always go our way. I’m learning that this acceptance must be genuine and complete. Life is nothing more than a vast chaos of incidents – control is an illusion. By stepping back and seeing all of life with an open mind and a child’s eyes, we can find the way to what we seek, usually by a different route than we were taught to look.

In seeking everything, I found nothing. In seeking nothing, I found everything.

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