Reflections on Chapter 16 of the Tao Te Ching:
Attain the highest emptiness.
Maintain constant tranquility.
We observe the Ten Thousand Things pulse in unity and return to the void.
All things bloom luxuriously and each returns again to its source.
Returning to source is the supreme stillness.
This is known as the return to destiny, the natural pattern.
Returning to destiny means to be constant.
Understanding constancy is known as realization.
Not understanding this constancy leads to disaster.
To be all-encompassing means being impartial.
Being impartial is your highest nobility,
The true nobility of Heaven.
Natural divinity is Tao.
Tao is everlasting.
When you lose your sense of self, you are immortal as the Tao.
One of the things that Lao Tzu talks about in this chapter is constancy. There is a pulsing on and off of existence. In Chapter 2 of the Tao Te Ching, we talked about duality. We talked about the yin yang symbol and how it represents the opposites of things. The yin yang has another element to it, which is on and off. In the movie, What the Bleep Do We Know, they spoke of this. They talked about Quantum Physics and the pulsing of form between particles and waves. Life is a constant blinking of consciousness, unconsciousness, consciousness, unconsciousness. We need to understand that it’s all the same. It’s all Tao. Everything is connected.
Another thing he talks about here is the stillness. In the on – off pattern we are talking about, the “off” is that vast void of silence. In the times when I meditate, there is an amazing energy that comes out of that silent time. It is palatable. You can feel it. It’s an amazing space to be in. When you allow yourself that empty space, what comes up is everything. Any story you’ve got going on in your head is going to come up for you during that time. That is the nature of the mind – to just keep going. Meditation is so interesting because you can just look at it. My Consciousness Coach Judith says to just tell your thoughts, “Thanks for showing up,” and then shoo them out the door. The silence is really important.
In Chapter 15 of the Tao Te Ching, we talked about the rhythm of things and how everything cycles back around to the opposite. So if things are going really well, it may cycle back to things not going so well. It’s all perfect. It’s sometimes not easy to look at it that way, but it’s all perfect. There is great relief in that. There is relief in that it is perfect in being messy and perfect in it being ugly. It gives you license to not be perfect. I think we really need that. I know for myself, that is definitely something that I have struggled with. Not necessarily with being perfect, but having the desire to be perfect. In having that be a kind of pressure that I put upon myself. None of us are. We aren’t perfect. But that is the perfection, that we are not!
So, in this stillness you begin to realize that it is rhythmic. There is a rhythm to awareness. It goes up and down. The light goes on and off – your consciousness goes on and off. In the off moments, there is nothing. The only moment that we have is this moment right now. These are little realities that we are living in every single step of the way. Given that this is true (and who can argue?), what am I going to choose for that reality? If you had only this moment to live, what would be holding you back on doing anything you wanted to do? This is all there is.
We have freedom in that. I am so grateful to my culture that I have so many freedoms. If you took someone who was spending their life in prison with very little freedom. There are some people living their lives in virtual prisons. That is their life. That is where they live. I can speak of freedom, but if I were in their shoes would I really feel that freedom? Is that freedom really possible? I say that it is. I’m really not one to talk because I am not in it, so it’s hard for me to really relate to how that would be. I imagine it would be very difficult to keep my mind in a place where it wouldn’t be. Nelson Mandela is a very good example of that. He was in a prison. Granted, it was a prison of political prisoners so he probably fared better than many. But he was in a prison and he made huge changes in the world from that place. He did that primarily with the way that he believed himself to be. He believed himself to be a free man. Not just a free man. He felt this desire to help others to have that feeling as well.
Then you look at Viktor Frankl, who lived in a concentration camp. He had many opportunities to let his mind go to where he could say that life had done him wrong. Very wrong…yet he chose not to. He chose not to. He chose to live in a space that was saying that he has freedom. They might take his body and put it in bondage, they might torture him, but his mind was his own. He said that in his wonderful book, Man’s Search for Meaning. That’s just how it is. No matter what the circumstances.
It is fun to just be in that place of stillness and see what is opened to you. See what is possible.
So what do you think of all of this? What do you think about this pulsing of consciousness? Please share your comments in the space below!
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