Monday, 2 January 2012

Verse 21


The greatest virtue you can have
comes from following only the Tao.

The Tao is elusive and intangible.
Although formless and intangible,
it gives rise to form.
Although vague and elusive,
it gives rise to shapes.
Although dark and obscure,
it is the spirit, the essence,
the life breath of all things.

Since the beginning of time, the Tao has
always existed.
It is beyond existing and not existing.
How do I know the way of things?
I look inside myself and see.

Lao Tzu here offers more pointers to realising the Tao. It’s a tricky business. Try to understand it with words and ideas and you’ll fail, for it’s elusive and beyond all such abstraction.

Try to see it with your eyes and you’ll fail, for it’s intangible and invisible. Yet its existence can be demonstrated, in much the same way as electricity; for although invisible, its effects can readily be observed.

The Tao is like the ocean upon which all currents, waves and forms derive their existence. They rise from the ocean, exist only because of the ocean and then dissolve back into the ocean. It is the substrata out of which all form – the entire manifested universe – is created.

Lao Tzu closes by telling us that although we cannot outwardly see this invisible force independently of its effects, we can know the truth by looking within ourselves.

This is the only place truth can ever be found. Words can deceive, beliefs can be warped and the human mind is ordinarily a repository for all kinds of gross half-truths and distortions.

But beyond the mind – within, we can access the Tao and only from there can we truly understand the way of things.

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