Tao Te Ching: Fourth Verse Thoughts

The Tao is empty but inexhaustible, bottomless, the ancestor of it all.

Within it, the sharp edges become smooth; the twisted knots loosen;

the sun is softened by a cloud; the dust settles into place.

It is hidden but always present.  I do not know who gave birth to it.

It seems to be the common ancestor of all, the father of things

Wayne suggests that in order to practice the 2nd verse, we should take the opportunity to stay quiet instead of verbally responding to something.  “Be silent and listen to your thoughts.”  This one is a hard one for me because I’m always ready to give my two cents.  So my intention is to find an opportunity to rest in my quiet mind and listen to my intuition, my inner self for guidance.

To be honest, this was easier to practice when I first read this over 7 years ago.  I’m finding myself wanting to give my two cents; maybe more than I should.   it is solid advice but I’m finding that my interpretation of this verse might be a little different from Wayne’s.   

Here is how I see it:

This verse is about perception.   If you are not in a “good place” or not aligned or present with yourself, the Tao or Source can seem empty and not there for you but when you are in the good place and aligned with Source, the Tao is bottomless and in exhaustible.   When aligned, everything is easier and those sharp edges are smooth and everything settles into place.   Some would say this is being “in the zone.”   

The 4th verse of the Tao Te Ching is a message of faith and trust in something that may not feel present at the time, but know it always there to have our back.  Maybe this is what Wayne wanted to convey was that there isn’t a need to give our opinion all the time and be at peace with the Tao; knowing it’s always there working for us.

Tao Te Ching: 5th Verse Thoughts

Tao Te Ching: Third Verse Thoughts

Putting a value on status will create contentiousness. If you

overvalue possessions, people begin to steal.  By not displaying what

is desirable, you will cause the people’s hearts to remain

undisturbed

The sage governs by emptying minds and hearts, by weakening

ambitions and strengthening bones.

Practice not doing…. When action is pure and selfless, everything

settles into its own perfect place.

 

When I was around 12 or 13, I just had to have this item at the store.  It was a gadget of some sort or food but the point is that I “needed” it.   Problem was that I didn’t have any money so I stole it.   When I was older, I had to have a different kind of gadget, meal or consumer item that was “the latest” and was probably super shiny.  It was going to make me happy and I would have so much fun with whatever item caught my eye at the store or online.   But!!!  I didn’t have the money.  I didn’t steal the item but I charged it, over and over again until I was laden with debt; a crushing debt that, at the time, felt I couldn’t out under from.   Not long after I tried shoplifting at age 12,  I got caught (thankfully) and I never did it again.  The irony of all of this is that I did these things to feel good, or so I thought, but it ended up creating more misery than pleasure in my life.   Lao Tzu was right, I overvalued these possessions and it led to poor decisions and not feeling very good about myself.

Wayne suggests the when you notice that you are wanting, planning or outright buying something, “choose the Tao and listen for guidance.”    So dig deep and the conclusion one might come to is to buy the item and feel gratitude or you might decide to opt out of buying, maybe donating the money to charity or just saving for another time.

As Abraham Hicks has said, “notice how you are feeling.”

Are you hoping that this purchase will make you happy or are you already happy?    Because if your happiness is dependent on the item, then happiness will be short lived.   So it might not be advantages to purchase this particular item at the moment if you have the expectation that it will solve your problems, make you feel “complete”, etc…

Value of status:

The opening line of the 2nd verse has stuck with me throughout the pondering of verse 2.  Maybe it’s because I feel this is the hardest one to get a grasp on; to practice.  Isn’t putting a value of “status” really just another way of putting a value on other peoples opinions?   

“Will they like my hair?”

“Will they like my outfit?”

“will they like my new car?”

“Will they like me?”

etc…

As humans, we put too much stock in the opinions of others.  We adjust ourselves to conform to what we think others want to see and in the long run, no one is happy.  But, as Wayne has said many times, “Your opinion of me is none of my business.”  Let’s keep that in mind when we try something creative, agree with someone (on an issue we may not fully agree on) or conform to the norms of a group.

Practice the Tao

The next time you are involved in a creative endeavor, focus on how you feel about your creation.  Don’t worry about what others might think or what might want to see, touch, hear, etc..  Just remember that their experience is solely theirs and we have not control over it.  Just make sure the process and the end product makes YOU happy.

Tao Te Ching: 4th Verse

Tao Te Ching: 2nd Verse Thoughts

Under Heaven all can see beauty as beauty, only because there is

ugliness.  All can know good as good only because there is evil

Being and nonbeing produce each other.  The difficult is born in the

easy.  Long is defined by short, the high by the low.  Before and after

go along with each other

So the sage lives openly with apparent duality and paradoxical

unity.  The sage can act without effort and teach without words.

Nurturing things without possessing them, he works, but not for

rewards; he competes, but not for results.

When the work is done, it is forgotten.  That is why it lasts forever

There are two parts to this verse:  It declares that there are dualities in life, a yin and yang type thing and then to accept and appreciate and let it be or “just be.”   There are so many ways to interpret this verse and after reading it a few times, I see that we need these contrasts in order to know what we want and what we don’t want, which sounds very similar to what Abraham Hicks says.  Without these contrasts, how could we enjoy or appreciate something that we consider beautiful without the “ugly” to contrast it?  How can we fully appreciate pleasure without the pain in contrast?  Without one, we cannot have the other.

Maybe we tend to label things and experiences too much.  Are we too focussed on the negative and dwell on it?  Do we become blind to things that are wrong because we don’t want to acknowledge that something is not “good”?   Doe’s someone have to be right and does someone have to be wrong?

One of Wayne’s suggestions in living the second verse of the Tao Te Ching is to go about your day and try “.. noticing an opportunity to defend or explain yourself and choosing not to.”  This was quite a challenge for me who used to love to debate or be the devil’s advocate.  It also created someone arguments and tension among friends and family.   So instead of argue a point I acted without effort and hopefully taught without words.  Just like in Verse one, positive things have happened in practicing this “let it be” type of attitude.   Do I do this all the time?  No, but I’m getting better at it and I have found that my needing to be right has become less important.

Tao Te Ching: Third Verse