Tao Te Ching, Chapter 7 (a reaction of trees)

The great fir- so tall that its canopy

is indistinguishable from sunlight,

shimmers in photosynthetic fire.

The journey from

the soil under my left foot

to the edges of my dreams

began somewhere in eternity and

will end only after

countless cycles of trees

and dreamers encourage

one another in

supplication, service, and surrender

finally, one perfect day,

to the sun

and then again to the galaxies

awaiting..

@David B. Weber, 2011

Other chapters and responses here; feel to discuss, or add your own: http://taochow.wikispaces.com/Chapter+07

Tao Te Ching, 5

The Tao doesn’t take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn’t take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.

The Tao is like a bellows:
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

Hold on to the center.

(Stephen Mitchell’s translation)

My response:

I asked the snake, gold/green and sleek,
“Which is better, rain or sunshine?”
The snake struck at my boot and bit,
because I had gotten too close.
My words of enlightened wondering
were felt by the snake
as the warmth of a too-near threat,
and he slipped away,
down the hill like a tiny stream.

There was no good, nor bad in the snake’s bite.

The next time, I will simply stand further away,
and ask again, in a whisper.

 

Other chapters and responses here; feel to discuss, or add your own: http://taochow.wikispaces.com/Chapter+05

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 3

I leaned against a tree-

does the kind matter?-

and I looked up

and up and up

to where the bird songs

were being sung.

While I couldn’t see the birds themselves,

I gave them my hopes and visions

as nesting material,

or as food for their chicks.

They will know better than me

how best to use them, if at all.

 

I took their acceptance of my intrusion

into their home,

as a kind of gratitude,

for our shared canopy

in the Creation that is

always beginning.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter Two

The dogs know everything:

where the food is

where the other one is

where they are walking

and that sound, that smell.

Is there more?

When there is no good,

there is no better.

When there is no bad,

there is no very bad.

When there is no beginning,

there is no end.

The dogs know everything

about their moments,

and so teach me about

these moments.

And these.

And now these moments, too.

.The dog, by the way,

does not understand

its name as a name

but as a sound

a blessed sound

and so has no need

nor desire

for that sound to be

perpetuated, honored,

or enshrined,

but only spoken.

@David Weber, 2011

Tao Te Ching, Chapter One (a seedling)

Knowing is the beginning of not-knowing.

Curiosity is the doorknob on infinity,

The acorn’s germ is there, still- unseen and present- in the oak tree,

as the oak tree is there, still- unable to be seen, but present-

from the vantage point of the Sun.

As I am there, still- unseen, unheard, but present and breathing-

in the ocean of humanity.

I know very little; therefore, I am.

If you know the acorn, the oak tree, or me..you’ll understand.

But what you understand will disappear quickly into greater knowledge,

as will the acorn and the tree, and as will I ..

 

Tao Te Ching #9

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

The Tao is bigger than you. And much, much bigger than me.

So I have two choices; no, three:

I can seek to identify with the enormity of the Tao, edgeless though it may be. My ego chatters all day, however, telling me that I can be bigger better brighter or (perhaps even) the best.

I can also hear that same yin chatter in yang, too (and with equal clarity): stupid failure, inept fool, tiresome lout. Give up, give in, the Tao has no need for me.

Or, I can open my eyes to everything which is already mine. I can see the moonflowers unfolding in the darkness, and I can hear cicadas singing summer songs. I can taste the breeze. I can fill my hands with dog kisses and smell the photosynthetic smoke of green-burning pines.

And the Tao is in me now, and I am in the Tao. And words are only getting in the way.

The Way.

Tao Te Ching 8

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself
and don’t compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.

The story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1-8), tells of builders on the plains of Babylon who wanted to build a tower that would “reach into the sky. This will make us famous..”

Built with bricks (not stone) and tar (not mortar), the tower was doomed from the start. Every inch of its increasing height bore down more heavily on its less than adequate foundation. The plans the builders had for both their achievement and the fame it would bring were folly. Instead of fame, their half-baked plans brought them derision, and a mess to clean up.

To simply be oneself is not a simple task. Caught in the onslaught of culture, the worship of false idols, the fragility and care of bent egos, and others’ definitions of success, it is a difficult process to discover, or re-discover, who we really are. The ancient truths of the Tao are invaluable it that quest:

Humility, fairness and generosity, cooperation, joyfulness, and presence are qualities that can be practiced; they get easier and more natural over time if they are not part of one’s life now.

Where and when to begin? Here and now. The Tao is. Here and now, as are we all.

Tao Te Ching 7

 

The Tao is infinite, eternal.
Why is it eternal?
It was never born;
thus it can never die.
Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself;
thus it is present for all beings.

God, the word, is finite. It’s meanings stretch only so far as the metaphors it gives rise to can carry it. There was a time and place where those meanings began, and there will be a time when the word is so laden with definition, that it will mean nothing.

It is the Tao within which the word God is enfolded. When the need to speak the word first arose, however it was spoken, the Tao was ready to contain it. When the word is spoken for the last time, its formlessness will be transcended by the Tao.

The Tao is. Always is.

To approach God within the confines of a metaphor is to immediately limit God. The Tao cannot be contained by such comparisons. To reach for God beyond the words God is contained within- Lord, King, Father, Abba, El Shaddai, Allah, Krishna- is to reach ourselves into the infinite and eternal. To ponder God-with-no-name is to begin to know how little we know about God. And how very very much we do know.

Tao Te Ching 6

 

The Tao is called the Great Mother:
empty yet inexhaustible,
it gives birth to infinite worlds.
It is always present within you.
You can use it any way you want.

Nothing about us, not a single atom on us, in us, or around us, is new. Everything about us was born in the Great Radiance which set light, heat, and all matter into the eternal dance of the universe. It is our lot- yours and mine- to host, for a little while, some of the music in which that always- beginning dance is happening. And each of our songs is unique, but harmonically pitched in perfection with the Source of all music, and with each other’s music.

Hear it? The next note, part of an already building crescendo, is being born in you, even now. It will resound within the chords of an aria that is incomplete without you; an aria that- right now, this instant- is being sung and without which, the universe will be incomplete. Stifle those notes, and the smallest parts of the world will not miss them, even as the Tao does.

It is always our choice to sing, or to dance, or to search for the colors when the monotones of our circumstances seem to overwhelm the Tao’s infinite vibrancy. We can give birth to new creation; the Image of God in us is our womb that propels us toward doing so.

****

How can one be bored when there are pecans to be gathered, shelled, and eaten? Or when there are dogs and kittens who need a home?

How can anyone turn away from a sunset, a loon on the lake, or the old man who is walking toward you with stories he’s never told?

Or how is it possible to sit still and wait, when you own a set of colored pencils?