“Tao smooths our sharp edges,
untangles the knots in our lives ,
and blends our brilliance with our dust.”
Twenty some centuries ago Lao Tzu began to compile writings that would come to be known as the Tao Te Ching. Translated: “The Book of the Way of Virtue.”
Tao means way or path. In this life we are all on our way, on a path.
Life is a journey.
In life we plan for how we hope things will go. How to get from where we are to where we hope to be. We may make a plan to attain wealth, or happiness, a house or have children. Maybe we will marry, perhaps not. As with any journey, we check our options. We may find ourselves planning within a specific time frame, or perhaps with definite events or milestones that have to happen along the way.
On a car trip we plan for the fastest route, the most scenic way, the one that goes by grandma’s, and of course we avoid construction. We use maps and GPS to chart our course. We hope to avoid delays and to arrive on time. We stop along the way for fuel, both for the car and for ourselves. We may pause at a scenic lookout to stretch and soak in the natural beauty.
Well, the Tao Te Ching provides helpful pit stops for the path of life too. Time to pause, check our course and make any changes needed. These are the Four Virtues and they are intended to guide us along the path of a life well lived. Pause to take them in. Gentle reminders of what life can be about. A well worn, creased map of experience that highlights the most spectacular and panoramic outlooks in life…the ones that leave you breathless and in awe. Fulfilled.
Reverence For All Life
This is about unconditional love for all living things. Beginning with ourselves, it flows naturally out to include all other life. Here all forms of life are honored, not just some. Found deep within this reverence is the fundamental belief and understanding that we are all made of the same star dust, all sparks of the one fire. Living with this reverence the ego is diminished and replaced with appreciation and gratitude for all of life.
This is compassion, kindness, an all encompassing love. It is sincere and authentic. Actions are honest, and allow us to move towards a state of inner and outer peace. Choices and decisions come from integrity and there is no longer a hint of dishonesty or insincerity, nothing to disturb this inner and outer peace. Cause and effect is balanced. It is manifested in “walking your talk.”
Many often see or sense gentleness as a weakness when in fact it is a deeply powerful trait. Gentleness is home to awareness of, respect and reverence for all life. Here in gentleness, being kind is more important than being right or important. In the embrace of gentleness we also find the ability to forgive, the strength to accept and the courage to love unconditionally. Gentleness includes non-violence, conflict begins to drop away.
As we grow and develop wisdom we come to be supportive of ourselves through kind words, loving care and a direct extension of this is that we joyfully carry this forward to others. As social beings we want to give to others, support others, be of service to others, help others. We want shared experiences and a sense of connection to one another. In these things we find a sense of happiness. With a full heart our lives gain meaning and purpose. There is little thought or concern with gain for ourselves. Here it is not only possible, but easy to hold space for another, listening to them, being there for them, allowing them to be themselves while wrapped in respect and safety. Some of us know this as Metta: Loving Kindness in its most powerful manifestation.
“For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length–and there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.” Carlos Castaneda
So, if you haven’t already, be sure to take advantage of the rest stops along this road of life. Remember that there will always be things that pop up that we are unaware of and caught off guard by. The “not knowing” part of life always travels with us. These may feel like roadblocks, but they too have a detour. What is important is to always take the turn out, the scenic view stop, the rest and nourishment exit, the opportunity at hand to pause and recharge with the Four Virtues. They keep us healthy, they fill us with purpose and offer guidance. They keep us in a healthy head space.They keep us on the road to a life well lived and well shared, and a heart filled to the brim.
**Don’t forget to check this week’s readings by clicking here This Week’s Readings or by opening the This Week tab at the top of the page!