Monday, 9 January 2012

Verse 39


These things from ancient times arise from one:
in harmony with the Tao,
the sky is clear and spacious,
the earth is solid and full.
All creatures flourish together,
content with the way they are,
endlessly repeating themselves,
endlessly renewed.

When man interferes with the Tao,
the sky becomes filthy,
the earth becomes depleted,
the equilibrium crumbles,
creatures become extinct.

The Master views the parts with compassion
because he understands the whole.
The pieces of a chariot are useless
unless they work in accordance with the whole.
A man’s life brings nothing
unless he lives in accordance with the whole universe.
Playing one’s part
in accordance with the universe
is true humility.
The Master lets himself be shaped by the Tao
as rugged and common as a stone.

This might be deemed the ecology verse. As we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century, perhaps the biggest challenge facing us as a species is taking responsibility for the damage we have done to the planet’s ecology and to restore balance to the whole.

On an individual level, when we live out of harmony with the Tao, the cracks soon start appearing in our relationships and the quality of our lives. When an entire species lives out of harmony with the Tao, we reap havoc not just among ourselves but upon the planet on which we depend.

We need to be aware of the whole and not just live focused on a narrow set of constituent parts that we call the ‘things of our life’. Every single action affects the whole and therefore we have to widen our concern from beyond the tips of our noses and outside of our homes and families and be aware of how our actions are impacting the whole.

The ego-mind likes to see itself as a separate entity, important in its own right. If we shifted our perspective to see ourselves as simply cells in a much greater organism called ‘humanity’, then we would realise that each cell exists to serve the greater whole.

When individual cells decide to go crazy and decide do their own thing, we call this ‘cancer’ and it’s generally not very conducive to the health and longevity of the greater organism. With this new, expanded perspective, how would we do things differently? Are our lives contributing to the health of the overall organism, or do we need to make some changes to better reflect our responsibility in this regard?

Just some interesting questions to ponder. A simple change of perspective is sometimes enough to change an entire life.

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