Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Verse 42


The Tao gave birth to the One.
The One gave birth to the Two.
The Two gave birth to the Three.
The Three gave birth to all of creation.

All things carry yin and embrace yang;
they achieve harmony by combining these forces.

People suffer at the thought of being
without parents, without food, or without worth.
Yet in losing, much is gained
and, in gaining, much is lost.

Ordinary men hate solitude.
But the Master makes use of it;
embracing his aloneness, realising
he is one with the whole universe.

For many, Taoism is strongly associated with the image of the the yin and yang symbol; the perfect interfusion and balancing of the polarities of light and dark, positive and negative. Harmony is only achieved by the combination of these forces.

Positive and negative polarities, when combined, create harmony by cancelling each other out. The result is zero. The Tao Te Ching speaks of the root of creation as being the womb of nothingness, so it’s interesting to note that the perfect combination of positive and negative creates nothingness.

Does the thought of nothingness terrify you? The emptiness at the root of existence, as spoken of in the teachings of the Buddha, is an anathema to the human mind, which maintains its existence by perpetually latching onto objects, thoughts and things. This forms the basis of the ego, a separate sense of self based upon thoughts and objects infused with a sense of ‘me’, ‘mine’ and ‘I’.

Most people’s lives, so driven by the mind, are firmly rooted in the compulsion to acquire more and more things. Yet, Lao Tzu here points out that the more we gain, the more we also lose. Conversely, the more we lose, the more we gain, perhaps because this brings us closer to our ‘zero point’, the womb of creation and the essence of what we are at our core.

The question then becomes, can you let go of everything and in your solitude and nothingness realise your oneness with the entire universe and the underlying force that creates and sustains it?

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