Y5 – Day 1 – The Tao continued

The Tao is moreover a path to meditation. We read in chapter 16, “Abide in stillness.” and in verse 56, “Go within and retreat from the world. Blunt your sharpness, separate your entanglements, soften your light.”  After much practiceyou realize you are no longer lost in your own reverie fantasizing, but in a place with no thought. As soon as you recognize this unfortunately, you snap back into your mind and lose that space and its accompanying peace. My mentors taught me to ask the questions, “Who or what is listening to these thoughts?”  “What is in me that listens?” “Is it me? “Who is this “me”? Because of their guidance, each time I have delved deeper and further, I have understood the rich philosophy of the Tao (or Daoism) better.

In the Tao Te Ching, circling back to our reservoir is serenity. We may carry this out with meditation. Again, we find in verse 16, “Though all beings exist in profusion, they all end up returning to their source. Returning to their source is called tranquility.” Furthermore, the Tao considers contemplation, introspection and self-reflection as not a ‘doing’, but a ‘being’ practice. Byron Katie (married to Stephen Mitchell, one of many translators and scholars of the Tao) states how difficult the experience is. She adds, not thinking is “like trying to hold back the ocean.” Yet, once you submerge into a profound sense of self and peace, you enjoy it. There are contemporary, medical studies that praise meditation’s potential to enhance your physical and mental life.

The Tao suggests we train, focus, behave and mold our conceptions into “right” thinking. The Tao’s aim is moral and proper without condemnation. It proclaims these ideas using dualities. Stephen Mitchell explains the paradoxes in the Tao by writing, “…the more truly solitary we are, the more compassionate we can be; the more we let go of what we love, the more present our love becomes; the clearer our insight into what is beyond good and evil, the more we can embody the good. Until finally she (the Taoist) is able to say, in all humility, ‘I am the Tao, the Truth, the Life’.” To study the Tao, is to embody self-improvement.

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