Reflections on Chapter 14 of the Tao Te Ching
When you look but cannot see, you call it invisible.
When you listen but cannot hear, you call it inaudible.
When you try to touch it and cannot feel, you call it formless.
These things cannot be known and so are blended into one.
The top is not light,
The bottom is not dark.
Infinitely infinite – it cannot be named.
Returning again to that which has no existance,
A form without form, suddenly indistinct.
Facing it, you will not see its face.
Following it, you will not see its back.
Stay with the Timeless Tao –
In order to master the here and now.
Understanding the Primal Origin –
This is the tradition of Tao.
This chapter is talking about the Void. The Tao is something that we have always tried to define. We can never define it. It is everything. I think that the exclusivity of religions has been their downfall. I think God is Tao. I think Jesus was an expression of Tao. He was very good at expressing the Tao. Buddha also. All of the religions have their icons that really speak to people. All cultures have people who have mastered Tao.
I was just thinking yesterday about the Christians. There are so many Christians in the U.S. The faith of some people is amazing. They just really have complete faith in God, as they define it. The faith that some Christians have, and the love that they have for God is no different than a Hindu has for their Gods. It’s the same love. They love God. They have complete faith in God. In some ways, that is no different than someone understanding Tao…having faith in it and loving it.
I think that religions serve many purposes in a culture. One of the more positive purposes that religions have is to help people treat each other better. I think there are definitely some positive aspects to that. Another is the community that is built around supporting each other. Church is definitely a form of community. It keeps people in connection on a regular basis. I have often considered going to church just for that, and I have attended church at times of my life for just that purpose. But I have had to disclaimer for myself many of the things that were taught there because they just did not fall into the scope of what I believe, so it was challenging.
So, what it comes down to for me with religion is really about trying to define what we are all about. If you are a Christian and you have tremendous faith in God, how do you define that? Or any religion? How do you define your sense of God, or Gods? How do you define yourself with God as a backdrop? Are you part of God or is God something very separate from you? I think that’s where you start to see the differences between some of the different belief systems that are out there. There are many variances of Christianity, Muslim, Hindu, Taoism, etc. I think it is up to you to decide what your personal system really is. No one can tell you or force you to believe it if you don’t want to.
There are certainly a lot of man-made components put upon religion. To me, these components are made by people that just don’t have faith that God can do the job. They aren’t really ready to give God the control, they feel like mankind has to control mankind. It seems as if they really don’t believe in someone’s innate goodness. Instead, you have to put some form of controls in place so that people will be good. I just don’t believe that people need that. I think that people want to be good if we let them and the ones that behave badly often do so out of spite.
Then there are laws and rules. People have to follow the rules we’ve created or they are “breaking the law”. The laws are really designed for people who don’t follow them. That is how I see religion, too. It’s a guide for people, but people tend to go too far with it. They humanize something that is not meant to be messed with.
I can’t imagine there being a God – a God of all people, all animals, all beings, that would make a higher percentage of people that weren’t Christian if Christianity were the ONE true path. Why on earth would God create masses and masses of people in order to just condemn them to hell? That just does not make ANY sense to me. And since God supposedly created this idea, why were people of other cultures given a very satisfying and pleasant religion for them to follow? Why do that? If God is God and the big plan is to have everyone be Christian, why not just make everyone Christian to begin with? The whole thing just doesn’t really wash with me.
So, where am I going with all of this? I guess I am really just saying that all of that stuff – all of that back and forth about religions and beliefs and stuff is just that…stuff. It lies on the surface of things. No matter how attached we are to being right or saving the planet or anything, underneath all of that is just Tao. Like the carpeting in a messy teenager’s bedroom, it is hardly ever really seen through all the stuff. We miss it because we are so busy judging and deciding things about the details. Take a moment now and just go back to your breath. Under that, all is good with the world and all is perfect. Under everything, there is only Tao.