Reflections on Chapter 7 of the Tao Te Ching:
Heaven and Earth are Eternal
because they do not live for themselves.
This is the reason
they exist consistently through time.
The sage puts herself last and ends up first.
She identifies herself with the Universal Self
And thus remains constant.
Isn’t this so because
she lacks personal self-interest?
This is why she will succeed
in all of her personal endeavors.
One of the principles of the Tao Te Ching is the principle of constancy. In our lives, there is nothing more constant than the Moon. Every evening, it rises and every morning, it sets. Times may vary, but its always there. When I think of the principle of constancy, I think of marriage. Marriage gets a bad rap in today’s culture, but I think that part of the reason that marriages are failing is because we are forgetting the value of constancy.
Our lives are very chaotic in this modern world. Computers and cell phones have made it even more so. If you turn on a television, you will see little bits of something broken up by commercials that are loud and shouting to get your attention. Radio is the same way. Facebook is another distraction. All of these things bring us away from the constant nature that flows underneath all of it. They are exciting, new and different so we are attracted to them but underneath all of that is the quiet layer of constancy. Outside of our chaotic lives, the moon is still quietly rising and setting.
According to Deng Ming-Dao, who wrote Everyday Tao, the ancients would urge their students to study the moon to understand constancy. He wrote the following passage to describe the moon…
The moon keeps to its orbit. Silently. Unwaveringly. True, it has its phases. Its course, its movement, its path in life – in short, its Tao – leads it into shadow and into brightness. Does it complain? Does it seek a different course? It does not.
When I read that, I could not help but compare it to marriage. I have one failed marriage in my own path and I am now married a second time. This time, I understand that I need to stay in appreciation of my marriage. That was my mistake the first time. I got lost. The moon does not second guess its course in life. It just keeps moving forward.
Some of you may be reading this post and feeling upset with me because you know your marriage is wrong and you should leave. I am not saying that people should stay in a bad marriage. What I am saying is that when you are in a good marriage, stick it out. There will be times when you feel like leaving. The moon always goes through darkness and then it comes back into the light. There is something so universally rich about a couple that still loves each other after many years. That is called constancy.
I once went to a 50th wedding anniversary party of my aunt and uncle. At the time, I was going through my divorce so I asked my aunt how she did it all these years. She looked surprised and said that she just never really questioned it. She just lived. That is the path of constancy. I admired them for that.
Check out Chapter 7 of the Tao Te Ching