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February 24, 2010

Tao Te Ching 4

                The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used, but never filled. Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things! Blunt the sharpness, Untangle the knot, Soften the glare, Merge with dust. Oh, hidden deep but ever present! I do not know from whence it comes. It is the forefather of the gods.

                The beauty of the Tao is that it is too vast to ever completely comprehend, too old to establish a time it began, and stunningly simple. We humans are, by nature and schooling, conditioned to seek hidden meanings, distrust what is before us, divide and classify everything, and essentially complicate the most simple of things.

                The Tao teaches us to take a step back and see everything just as it is without comparison or bias. Moreover, the Tao encourages us to understand and accept that we are each part of something so infinite and immense that no one person could ever possible grasp it all, but each should endeavor to comprehend all of it that they can. The Tao is in everything and the source of all things, good and bad alike. The balance of Tao leads us to recognize that along with the natural universe, the Tao is also the source of all unnatural things.

                Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” I doubt that he recognized the Taoist philosophy he evoked in those words: all things are only temporary. With patient resolve, we can overcome or endure the storms of life. It is, by our nature and upbringing, the curse of mankind to remain perpetually locked into cycles of drama, complication, doubt, and negativity. We become lost to the emotions of the moment, believing and fearing that the horrors of the ten thousand things will last forever. That simply isn’t true, unless you insist upon it being that way.

                The follower of Tao knows that all things are in a constant state of change, that the universe is unruly and random, and that to allow yourself to be negatively affected by forces beyond your control is folly. Keep things simple, accept that the world and life are neutral to your desires, and that no matter how much you open your mind, you’ll never understand it all.

                We don’t need to understand everything. We need only understand and accept ourselves, and contentment can become a constant.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 28, 2010 8:18 PM

    Good post! I think you captured the essence of Verse 4 very well.

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