A Kumbaya Moment

cc image by inottawa on Flickr

cc image by inottawa on Flickr

Reflections on Chapter 21 of the Tao Te Ching:

The virtuous Master lives according to Tao.

Tao is entirely elusive, very indistinct.
Vague, though its center contains form.
Vague and elusive,
though its center has substance.

Deeply hidden in its center
is a life force.

Its essence is very real
and contains within it the heart of faith.

From ancient times until today,
Tao’s name has not been forgotten –

Thereby bringing forth all things.

I can realize the origin of all things through this.

Tao has often times been forgotten.

It is human nature to forget. The way I see it is that there are layers to life. There’s the deep undertones. They are very deep. They are quiet and serene. They are open. That is the river of Tao. It flows through everything in our existence. It’s always there, underneath the surface.

It is constant.

As we go up, we have more superficial layers of life. Most people live at the upper layers. They are somewhat concerned with today – they go to work, they come home, eat dinner, go to bed. They don’t really answer the big questions. They view the big questions as dreamy or not in reality. This is fine to have that belief. It is not the belief that I have. Staying at the surface keeps you in that space of having that be where your life is at. I don’t choose to live there. I think this goes back to the previous conversation in Chapter 20, where it talks about being willing to go deep with life. These two chapters really go together because there’s a lot of things we miss when we just want to stay on the surface of things.

It’s really good to be able to go deeper if you want to. I love diving into stuff, but I can understand how it feels to want to keep it light sometimes. If someone gets too serious, it’s hard for me sometimes. I don’t think it always has to be serious. Sometimes I get tired of the serious. I want things to be fun and light.

Another piece is about wanting other people to be comfortable. In Minnesota, where “nice” is our middle name, we want to make sure that people are comfortable. As a result, we don’t go deep because we are afraid they might not be comfortable enough. So no one goes there and everything stays up high on the surface of things. People leave those private thoughts, like “What does it really mean to be here? What is my life about?” They leave those thoughts to themselves and don’t bring them out for discussion with other people. There’s  something about that. For some, it’s a trust issue. They don’t want to discuss these things with people they don’t trust and in some cases, they don’t trust very many people with that information.

All of it is fine. It’s just different ways of connecting to the world.

One does not have to put their heart on their sleeve and be all Kumbaya. They don’t have to be out there. In fact, there’s a lot of times there are people that are out there that are not really fully in there integrity. That leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. It’s definitely comes from a place of people wanting to be there and wanting that for themselves. It sometimes isn’t there. That’s where some of the hesitation comes in. People want to make sure that the environment is right in order to share at that level. There is something about sharing at that level when it’s not right that lacks in integrity.

Different cultures handle this differently. The American culture tends to be a more “heart on your sleeve” culture but there are other cultures that are not like that. This is due to how they were brought up. Some cultures were brought up to not speak of these kinds of things…that they are very private.  This is what this chapter is about. People forget. They have this cultural training to behave a certain way and the certain way does not include sharing what you want your life to be. It doesn’t include that. I think if you keep it too private and don’t share it with anyone, you could forget and get lost in the monotony of everyday life.

So I think that is what this chapter means. Chapter 20 and 21 are very connected. Chapter 20 says to allow yourself to be in that space of depth. You most likely won’t have a lot of people hanging out there with you and, if you do, not everyone is behaving in their full integrity. I believe that most people want to be. I believe that the people who are doing the whole spiritual purity thing, want to be appear more spiritual or more evolved. They believe that they are. They may behave in such a way that acts as if they are, when they still have things to address. We all do, so probably best to do your own laundry.

It’s all just learning.

The cool thing about personal development is that we are all in different places. We really have to remember that. Everyone has a place where they are at home. It could be anything! It could be books, it could be music, it could be Tao Te Ching, the Bible, plants, anything! Every person has some thing that is “their thing”. When they are there, that is enough because that is their thing. If someone loves plants, and they spend time out in the plants. Right there, that’s God. That’s Tao. That is Tao speaking through them. Whether they want to call it Tao, God, Allah, whatever – that isn’t important. What is important is that they are expressing their truth. They are living who they are at that moment. When they aren’t in that moment, they are expressing who they are not – which is good too. It’s just two sides of a coin – who you are and who you are not.



So what do you think of all of this? What is your special thing (if you want to share)?  Please share your comments in the space below!

This post is part of my contribution to the Ultimate Blog Challenge. If you are part of that challenge, please say hello and I will check out your blog as well! If you are a blogger and are not a part of the challenge, it is worth a look! It’s a great opportunity to share and be shared.

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  1. Hi Amy. Loved this! Had a little chuckle to myself about not ‘being all Kumbaya’. That really resonated, and it conjures up an image that makes me smile wryly. I know I’m in danger of being one of those ‘serious’ folk, though fortunately I have the attention span of a goldfish, so even if I’m ‘going deep’, it doesn’t last long!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Susan. I would have to say that I have my serious moments as well. You just have to gauge your audience, that’s all! lol… yeah, I titled the post, A Kumbaya Moment, because that song does seem to personify all that is geeky about being too spiritual at the inopportune moments, doesn’t it?

  2. Elusive, indistinct, vague, the Big Question. I find that in the best poetry, Amy Opening doors to understanding and feeling that go beyond the everyday.

    I’ve been lucky that my current project is taking me on a path of exploration where I’m meeting people who can show me perspectives that I only dimly realized were there. For example, just yesterday, this poem of love and loss had a profound effect on me:

    Alan Miles recently posted…Website Considerations And Tips For A Startup BusinessMy Profile

    • That’s a great poem, Alan. I used to live in England and I just loved those times. Some parts of England, you would swear the clocks have all stopped and time has stood still. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Cool, Alan. Thanks for that. I will take a peek! Good luck on the challenge. We are past the halfway mark, so it is all easy street from here on out, right? lol…

  4. Being authentic is important in any relationship or thought process. I don’t care to be around people who aren’t. I can respect and be friends with people who believe differently then I do as long as they are true to themselves and can respect who I am and what I believe as well. Then we are all Kumbaya.

    • Yes, Shawn, authenticity is so important. I think other belief systems challenge us – in a good way, and if we are able to allow this other system of belief to expand our understandings, all the better!

  5. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. About skimming the surface or diving more deeply. I can see a necessity for both but right now, I think I’m being resistant to the idea of plunging fully in.

    All in or all out. this was one of those amazing posts, Amy. It will make me come back and read this one again.
    Arwen recently posted…Freaks, Alphas & HuntersMy Profile

  6. I love what you said about being willing to go deeper. So many people are so afraid to look into their own mirror. While it can be frightening because they will be faced with reality, what they don’t realize is that it’s so liberating.

    Thank you for such a thoughtful article.

    Is it just me – I don’t see where to subscribe to your blog. I think I left a comment recently that Tao is big in my life.
    Julia Neiman recently posted…Get Moving: Think Change – Lesson 17 in the Empowering Young Entrepreneurs SeriesMy Profile

    • Thanks for the feedback, Julia. I will see if I can put up a subscription button or something. Yes, I could see your Taoist leanings in your post. Many people are Taoist and don’t even know it! lol…

    • I also added an email subscription box under the Twitter bird! 🙂

  7. Great post, Amy 🙂 I love that we are all at different places in our development, and we each have out “thing,” and even though our thing may be different that someone else, it doesn’t make one of you right and wrong. My parent’s “thing” is their church and their Christian way of living. Mine is more along a mystical line, and many of the things that resonate with me and I feel home at would be seen as wrong by their church. I believe that all people should be allowed to follow their own path without judgment.

    I always enjoy your posts, thank you!
    Kelly recently posted…Tarot Money MagicMy Profile

    • Thanks, Kelly. I was just listening to the book, The Power of Habit, today. It gave me a new perspective for the Christian faith with some of the stories they shared. There are qualities that are special to people that are involved in a church setting that you rarely find elsewhere. This is a great thing.

      I also have a difficult time with my judgments about the Christian faith. That is definitely one of my lessons! I am working on it. I think, for me, it is about working to understand their strengths.

  8. Brilliant post Amy, I really enjoyed reading it. I am so glad I met you on UBC and that you are not all kumbaya lol. My thing is writing, I lose myself in the flow of the words. Time stands still for me and when I come back to reality sometimes hours have passed.
    athena Brady recently posted…SuperstitionsMy Profile

    • Whoa, yea. Me too on lots of that. Me too on the writing, me too on the “glad I met you”. It’s been really fun to get to know so many wonderful people through this challenge. It will be over before you know it. I really learned a lot during this time!

  9. Pingback: 21 – The Virtuous Master

  10. Hello Amy,

    Good to know that in Minnesota “nice” is the preferred middle name. Lenore and I believe that if ever all the words of wisdom about right human action were boiled down to their essence it would result in one sentence:

    Just be nice.

    Back again after a sojourn, and my own comments on Chapter 21 can be found at: http://cascadianwanderer.wordpress.com/tao-te-ching/tao-te-ching-chapter-21/ .

    Namaste’. Bob
    Bob G recently posted…Welcome to The Cascadian WandererMy Profile

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