What is the Tao Te Ching?

There is a book widely known that explains the eternal nature of the universe. It is very popular just like the bible, however it is not promoted as much as it. The famous philosopher Lao Tzu wrote this book during the ancient times of China. It is called the Tao Te Ching.

The 81 chapters of the Tao Te Ching can be translated as “The Book of the Way and Its Virtue” or “The Book of the Immanence of the Way” or “The Book of the Way and of How It Manifests Itself in the World” or “The book of the Way”.

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

The words in Chinese are very deep, however to understand it you need start within the characters. “Tao” means “The Way”. There are other translations that it is a path of nature as well as the understanding of the relationship with the universe. “Te” translates to virtue. Virtues include integrity, honor, patience, courage, compassion, along with the great principles in ethics. “Ching” translates to “The Great Book”, while another translation relates Ching as being “classic”. Classic has the attribute of being Timeless. Timeless is Eternal.

The unnamable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things.

Depending on the nuance on this well known philosopher, his name could be Lao Tzu, Lao Tzo, Lao Tze, and Laozi. A popularized difference is that Lao Tzu was the name brought about by earlier western scholars. The origin goes back to the ancient periods of China and it goes to about 4th or 6th century BCE. There is a some controversy on the actual origination, nevertheless revolves around the ancient times of China. Lao Tzu is known as the Old Master. It could be the old master because the real name is lost through the passage of time. However, not just in Chinese culture, though in asian, names can be represented in a symbolic way that could prove a meaningful relation to life.

Photo by ZHENGFAN YANG on Unsplash

There is a picture of a elderly person white haired and white beard riding a buffalo. Those who more or less know the chinese culture, know it is Lao Tzu riding a buffalo. The story goes that Lao Tzu was living a tiring life in the Zhou court as it grew increasingly morally corrupt. He then left and rode a water buffalo across the western border of the Chinese empire. Dressing as a farmer, he was an elderly person with white hair and a white beard. He went across a desert. When he came upon a border to cross, there was a border official who recognized him and asked him to write down his wisdom. According to the legend, Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching, which was a sacred text. Then when he crossed the border, he took 3 steps and disappeared into the air.

The Tao begot one, the one begot two, two begot three, and three begot the 10,000 things. The 10,000 things carry yin and embrace yang. They achieve harmony by combining these forces.

There is a oneness in the universe. Oneness is the whole universe. You are living in total joy and bliss. Imagine there is no past or future, only the now. Imagine there is no space or time, just eternity unbounded. Imagine endless peace, harmony, and unconditional love.

If it is hard to think of oneness, think of the universe as simply your whole body. You have arteries and veins to circulate blood throughout each body part to maintain the system of muscles, organs, and systems. It is understood that the human body is composed of many active components, however each has its functions. The anatomy and physiology has its way of maintaining the system itself.

In the Great Universe, there are 10,000 things. There are only 10,000 things when it is named. The unnamed is in the unknown. The named can be a myriad of labels and ideas. However oneness is in both. It is in one thing, two things, three things, and 10,000 things. The only difference is the universe holds an uncountable measure of things that can be seen or named.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings, but contemplate their return.

Though the Tao cannot be seen when you are full. Lao Tzu said “The usefulness of a pot comes from its emptiness” and to “empty yourself of everything, let your mind become still.” Not to have a moving mind, preoccupied with anxiety, ambition, or relentless greed. Otherwise, it could cause a torrent of unwanted activity where it can clouds ourself with criticism, judgements, and false comparison about the relationship with the universe and even everyday life. Returning to the source is stillness which is the way of nature. In that stillness, the union of the Tao can be.

The way of nature is unchanging.
Knowing constancy is insight.
Not knowing constancy, leads to disaster.
Knowing constancy, the mind is open.
With an open mind, you will be openhearted.
Being openhearted, you will act royally.
Being royal, you will attain the divine.
Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.
Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.

There is a way of life and here in the Tao Te Ching discusses the way of nature which is unchanging. Through the times of history nature is how it is remembered, which is in perfect stillness. The way of the seasons has a spring, summer, fall, and winter. Since the seasons is part of nature, it essentially stays within the way of nature. From the beginning of time, all who live within nature knows the spring, summer, fall, and winter. The way of man on the other hand is subject to change. It is not constant as in nature. It flourishes in the realm of growth and vice versa.

Though man does have the means to be constant, unchanging, and be in the eternal aspect of the Tao. It just needs the understanding in the way of nature. Nature has a simplicity to it. Yet it can be abundant at the same time. Man has a tendency to be too ambitious, critical, or rash. This leads to a temporary state of living.

Nature does not hurry
yet everything is accomplished.

However the Tao is unchanging, timeless, and eternal. Nature doesn’t have a whole lot to offer compared to man. The simplicity keeps it within the eternal aspect of the Tao. Therefore the way doesn’t have to be great, it is still great nevertheless.

Be content with what you have Rejoice in the way things are.

There is a way of life to keep yourself within your means. However in the modern times with nuances that spring with the latest gadgets, news, or thought, it leads to a temporary state which could be wasteful of its manifestation. It seems that everything gets upgraded repeatedly. Looking into it, it gets upgraded because it has to follow the ecosystem of the newest product. If you keep in this cycle of upgrading to newest product, you will go into a territory unnatural to the universe. In cases, it can waste valuable resources. In the grand scale of things, it would lead to chasing a temporal cycles of birth and death. Chasing the newest product separates yourself gradually and feeds into a changing ecosystem. This ecosystem can be good, however in many cases it could lead to disharmony with the Tao.

Rejoicing in the “way things are”, gives you understanding to prevent wasting valuable resources. Essentially, this saves the energy of the universe. While it may be difficult to see this conceptually, you can look at this within your life. Suppose you are getting ready for work. When you start the morning, there is a connection that you are feeling together. However, sometimes there may be more to do. Then, by going outside of your personal bubble, over the way things are, to do other things, duties, or jobs. If it is not in the flow of your daily life, it may create an unstable connection between yourself and life. Or if there are too many things to do, you can over stimulate yourself. Moreover, the greater problem is that over stimulating deteriorates your integrity over time. Even over the very morning, it could cross to your work and cause frustration there.

Its difficult understand rejoicing in the “way things are” in the beginning. There could a long time in dealing with circumstances of life and activities without knowing this fundamental principle. But you can’t give up. You need to understand that there is a natural principle to life. Life has a beginning and an end. In the midst of it, there are many shades of grey. If you a take piece of the shade, you may or may not see a beginning and an end to that shade of grey. The cycle thus repeats. Looking at this in real life, you may come across something to do that is outside of yourself. When you do it, it could involve many different supports for it. Then the supports could have many different supports. Which this lead you to chase something that is not real, but only a diversion of your problem in the beginning. When you are within the rejoice in the way things are, you are not adding or taking away from what is. This is the way to be in harmony with the Tao.

This is not to take it too literal that to leave everything the way things are. When you resonate with something you could be able to connect. When it is within your means, you can take the necessary actions. Otherwise, you can leave it for the time being until it reaches you in giving you the opportunity again.

Tao Te Ching with forewords and notes by Stephen Mitchell

The Tao Te Ching is a timeless classic that bestows the virtue of living in accordance to a universal law. We are very fortunate to receive wisdom that is well defined. This is a symbol of truth that could guide seekers in wisdom through the changing and unchanging way of our universe. Though know that the way is not from thyself, but the Way of the Tao. When you live accordance to the way of the Tao Te Ching, you can bring clarity to life, resolve indifferences with understanding, and put order into our circumstances.

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

The unnamable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.

– The Tao Te Ching (Stanza 1)

Photo by Hu Chen on Unsplash

Check out the other blog entries, not to have old ones hidden, giving an opportunity of rebirth.  ^^

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