Light and Shadow Dancers: Tao 28

Tao #28

Be aware of your masculine nature;
But by keeping the feminine way,
You shall be to the world like a canyon,
Where the Virtue eternal abides,
And go back to become as a child.

Be aware of the white all around you;
But rememb’ring the black that is there,
You shall be to the world like a tester,
Whom the Virtue eternal, unerring,
Redirects to the infinite past.

Be aware of your glory and honor;
But in never relinquishing shame,
You shall be to the world like a valley,
Where Virtue eternal, sufficient,
Sends you back to the Virginal Block.

When the Virginal Block is asunder,
And is made into several tools,
To the ends of the Wise Man directed,
They become then his chief officers:
For “The Master himself does not carve.”

I am reading through the Tao Te Ching (The Way of Life).  This is a set of eighty-one simple poems ascribed to the ancient mystic, Lao Tzu.  There has been much debate about the actual person of this teacher–and who it might have been who penned the words which were eventually compiled into what is known as the Tao Te Ching.  Regardless of that, I am inspired by the powerful paradoxes and glimpses of the Unspeakable, Un-Boxable contained in these short poems.

#28 speaks of the universal reality of light & darkness.  Most of us have been brought up with an understanding of a great cosmic struggle–a war between “good” and “evil”.

In this teaching, Lao Tzu reveals that the Way of Life transcends the apparent conflict.  He shows us that consciousness is indeed comprised of both light and shadow, triumph and “shame”.  By “becoming as a child”, we greet the experience of everything with fresh wonder.  No longer must we endure an inner war–the battle of contradictory forces.

brilliant art of M.C. Escher

Look at the yin-yang symbol.  See how the dark and light are entwined?  See how they roll together within a circle–that sigil of infinity and eternity?

By embracing everything, we return to the innocent simplicity of childhood.  We shed our judgments of how life must be, and surrender to the flow of All That Is.  Dancing, spinning, tasting and testing–we emerge as masters of the paradox.  In this is a whole new power and freedom and peace.

Are you willing to imagine yourself as both a still valley and a bursting volcano?  Such is The Way of Life.

Pssst… I can read your mind.  You’re wondering “…how does this make any difference in my life today?”  It’s all very practical, really.  When we loosen our perceptions, lighten our grasp…blink our eyes into a new way of seeing, all of life becomes a grand adventure.  Yes, I showed up in a man’s body, but I cannot be defined as merely male.  Yes, I am delighted by the work I do in the world, but I am not only what I do.  I am free (as are you) to observe everything with amazement.

“I’ve come to just treasure the experience of life…all of it…in all its raw, windswept, sunrise-laden, barefoot shit and splendor”

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6 Responses

  1. “When we loosen our perceptions, lighten our grasp…blink our eyes into a new way of seeing, all of life becomes a grand adventure.”
    Yes!!! …letting~go
    also love your barefoot shit and splendor words at the end 🙂

  2. Awesome ! such wonderful singing
    it is a grand adventure….
    each footstep leads somewhere
    I follow each one as it resonates with me
    and yes sometimes along that path I go
    holy crap.. I’m out of here.. LOL
    but today I hear the singing of adventure
    calling me into the unknown
    excited I go

    thanks for sharing this

  3. This is a lovely post and a stunning visual from M C Escher. I used to hate the notion of duality – wanted to see only the light side – the good side. But of course without the duality we can never reach perfect balance, never be able to stand in the calm eye of the storm. Welcoming everything but attaching to nothing is exhilarating. Thanks for reminding me.

    • Geraldine!

      Hi… I’m so happy to have met you.

      Yes, it reminds me of what Jung said: “Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light but making the darkness conscious.”

      Many blessings to you–I look forward to becoming better acquainted with your work, too.

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