How to Be a Sage

Reflections on Chapter 52 of the Tao Te Ching:

Reflecting on Mountain

Mother is the beginning of the Universe.

When one understands the mother,
one understands the child.

When one knows the child,
one is also close to the mother
and the spirit will never be exhausted.

Block your senses,
close your gates
and your life will peaceful.

Open your mouth,
keep yourself busy
and you will be beyond rescue.

Perceiving the insignificant
is called enlightenment.

Staying flexible
is called strength.

Always returning to your inner light
and avoiding misfortune,
this is the eternal practice.


This is about internal development.

This chapter is about taking time to practice and study your internal life. So many times, the Tao Te Ching goes back to silence. There is something very healing about being yin, or receptive.

A while ago, I participated in a blogging event called Celebrating Womanhood. It was fun to read all the perceptions that people had on their blogs about women and celebrating women. A lot of them celebrated women that were important to them. Much of the Tao Te Ching alludes to the feminine aspect of your life. The receptive part that receives and takes in. There is something valuable in doing that.

It is not always about putting things out there.

So much rhetoric these days urges us to go-go-go! Hurry up! I stand in line at the grocery store and feel rushed putting away my money because the person behind me is in a hurry. I am driving down the highway and someone passes me because they have to rush off somewhere. Why is everyone in such a hurry? Where are we all going so fast?

Sometimes you just need to allow yourself space to observe your life. You will find that there is a lot to learn just by observing. Observe everything. If you are wanting to learn something, observe. Invite possibility.

We have a lot of yang out there.

Success in many cultures is determined by how yang  you are. Go out there, get it done! There are some really positive things to movement and activity. You can’t be all yin either. It goes both ways. It is good to understand both qualities. Studying the Tao helps us to do that.

It is really about understanding yourself.

When you get to know the child (you), you get to know the mother (Tao). If you look at yourself and understand your motivations and why you are doing what you are doing, you realize your patterns and your behaviors. By observing your body reactions, you will get to know Tao because you are part of Tao.

There are many old patterns telling you
what you are supposed to be.

Should you listen? Allow your guidance to be with you.  Let your guidance help you along the way. There is such comfort in this. I think this is why so many find comfort in religion. Sometimes it is easier to consider that your guidance should come from the outside. Where does your guidance originate? How does your body respond to this guidance? Your body knows the truth. The truth feels like release. Your body relaxes and accepts it. You may sigh deeply when you hear the truth. You may cry.

The truth is deep.

When you study your own development like you are a student of yourself, your life is greater somehow. You are able to expand and grow and move through your life in a better way. This is a constant practice, a constant coming back. One of the things that is often talked about in spirituality is awareness. You forget and you come back, you forget and come back.  Practice the internal.

How do you be a sage?

I think we all know a lot of things that will help us to be more like a sage. It’s not about knowing things. If it was, we’d already be there! It’s about the practice. Its about being the sage, every day. You work on it. You fail. You work on it, understanding that you are going to fail, you are going to have problems, you will forget, you will wander and go away. This chapter is so much about self observation.

What drives you?

Not from a sense of pleasing others or trying to live by some ideal that someone has erected for you, but what is your ideal? What is it that you feel in your heart and your spirit is the right thing that you are here to be doing? You have a tiny window to do it. This life is so tiny and it may be gone in any moment. We all have something that we are here to do. Your body knows what it is. Trust that you will get closer and closer to it as you go through your life. As you look at it, you get closer. If you don’t look at it, you don’t get any closer. Perhaps this is why everyone is rushing. I know that this is why I do sometimes! I feel that I have so much that I want to do in this tiny lifetime!

But the truth is, all we ever have is this moment.

This very moment that you are sitting here reading this post. It can’t be about what we are doing, and yet what we do every day holds the key to meaning in our lives. Take some space today. Do nothing. Follow your heart and see where it goes. Have fun. There can be no greater meaning than that.

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