It cannot be divided between you and me. I am all of it. You are all of it. I am the one. You are the one. We are not separate, not two. Can you stay with your true identity? Can you see it every day, each moment of every day? See it whenever it occurs to you to look. That’s all you need to do. Become accustomed to seeing everyday. See your inner simplicity, and witness the dance of life. Look both ways! Look in at the simple awareness and out at the spontaneous rise and fall of events. You will see no separation. These are one, not separate, not two. You are whole and total! 8. The seer flows like water Lying low along the way Nourishing whatever comes To be held on display The seer keeps to simple ways And therefore is content When joy or sorrow manifests To give complete assent If you can clearly be yourself And never rise to interfere Everyone will cherish you And always hold you dear Water symbolizes the Tao in many ways. Here Lao Tzu refers to its nourishing qualities. All life depends on water.
It has supreme power over all living things, yet it makes no claim on what it creates. It does not seek preeminence. Water seeks the lowest places, and, in so doing, nourishes all it comes across. Can you see that you do the same? It is your nature to give life to all things. You give by giving awareness, consciousness to all things. It is your very nature to give. Can you see yourself giving life to all around you? Can you be this simple and clear presence? 9. Don’t fill a bowl Till it’s more than full Or sharpen a blade Till it must go dull Don’t pile up treasure That comes at great cost Approval and riches Are easily lost Can you only do What’s really needed Then stop and withdraw When your task is completed? Enough is enough! Do you want to spend your life protecting your fame and possessions? Lao Tzu’s natural way is to do only what is called for by the present moment. Do you want to give your life away to the pursuit of wealth? Do those who have more really have more? Or do they have less? They have to devote time and life to getting and protecting. Do they have time to let go, to see the truth? Living simply means enough is enough. Be satisfied with having just enough, doing just enough. If you take just enough, everything else is left! 10. Can you see as a child sees And keep the simple vision? See the inner oneness With absolute precision Hold all things in your embrace The entire world is in your care Let things be just as they are Extend acceptance everywhere Let go all need to comprehend The truth is here where all behold Their infinite capacity To welcome and enfold Children do not imagine a head on their shoulders. They see that they are empty, room for the colorful world. They are space for their friends. They are nothing but awareness. Can you see as a child sees? Can you see that in the place you learned you had a head and a face, you really have a void?
You really are a void. But what a void! It embraces the world. It welcomes everything. Of course, to others, you have a head, a face. But others are not in a position to see what you see, to see that you are empty to contain all things. Can you see it? Can you look? Will you look? The Tao Te Ching was written in ancient China over 2500 years ago. Legend has it that its author, Lao Tzu, left China when he was very old. A gatekeeper at a mountain pass sensed that Lao Tzu had more than ordinary knowledge. He persuaded him to record his vision and philosophy before leaving. Lao Tzu stayed two days and wrote the Books of Tao and Te – much of it in verse. The message is addressed to the One in all of us, the only One, the Seer. May his classic of 5000 words inspire you the way it has millions of others since those far off days, the way it has inspired me. 11. The empty hub at center Allows a wheel to roll The vacancy within defines The function of a bowl The openness within a house Provides location to reside The open space that is my heart Is where ten thousand things abide A wheel can roll because of the empty hub. A bowl can be filled because it is hollow. A house can be occupied because the rooms are spacious. The manifest world exists because of the emptiness at your center, in your heart. You are space, room, capacity for the ten thousand things. You are room for all things, events, thoughts, feelings. All things have a home in you. 12. Too much sound can make you deaf Too many colors leave you blind Can you let desire die down And not leave emptiness behind?
Wanting things can drive you mad And acquisition makes you poor See that you are everything And leave off wanting more Too much indulgence can make you deaf to the silence, blind to the void. Living solely for excitement means overlooking the quiet root of existence. Living for acquisition leads you to embrace and value aggression, makes you a slave to getting and keeping. Can you slow down enough to see that you already are everything? Value living from the truth and enjoying the world as it’s given. 13. Fame and shame are equal And so are gain and loss It isn’t very difficult To get this point across Having fame you know that you Are terrified to lose it Making gain you always fear That others will abuse it Can you see that you’re not like Your image or reflection? Just see you are totality By looking in your own direction The one who is not limited Accepts whatever comes or goes And cares for everything around On opening and close There is no security in fame or in gain. These are just parts of the ever changing functioning or manifestation of objects and events, qualities and opinions. Fame and gain don’t last. They don’t even last a lifetime, which is only a flash in eternity. And if you should acquire wealth and fame, you will be the subject of the envy of others. You will have to defend them, fight to keep them. What a way to live! Lao Tzu prefers another way, the way of doing nothing, nothing but seeing your true nature. You are not like your image in the mirror. You are pure awareness. You originate and accept all creation, including the image in your mirror. You are made to accept and receive and care for all things. Seeing this is bound to make a difference in your life. My interpretation of the Tao Te Ching is based on the vision of headlessness discovered and tirelessly shared by Douglas E Harding. Don’t miss the chance to read his classic work On Having No Head. You can also find extensive information about his vision on The Headless Way website. There you will find many experiments in seeing. Douglas would certainly say that the experiments are the heart of the matter. He would agree with Lao Tzu that words alone are not enough. Seeing is required.
14. When you look, it isn’t there Listen and you cannot hear it It seems to be beyond your reach Because you are so near it This single source of everything Appears to be an empty image Though it cannot be understood You can see its naked visage Follow it to nothingness Approach it where you have no face From nowhere to infinity This vacant image leaves no trace From never to eternity This naked face is what you are An empty, vacant, open door Forevermore ajar Tao is awareness, which appears as void or emptiness. Can you see the emptiness in the place where others see your face? This is the emptiness or void that is your no-face or no-head. It is wide open for the world, for the ten thousand things of creation. Your only task is to see this emptiness whenever it occurs to you to look. See your empty face, the void in its infinity and eternity each moment. You will also see the ten thousand things that occur in time and space. Your own body is one of these ten thousand things that are manifested in you, in your awareness, in the Tao. See the truth of who you are. To yourself, you are not the body topped off with a head. That is your image to other people. 15. Those of old who knew the way To origin and source within Have seen the place where wholeness And infinity begin Alert as one on a frozen stream Or one who watches for the foe Deferential as a guest And generous as melting snow Plain as an uncarved block of wood Expansive as a vale Transparent just like water Whose clarity will never fail Can you keep yourself so still That muddy water clears? And wait until right action Spontaneously appears? Simple societies have existed until very recent times. People in these societies valued the simple joys of everyday living. They lived easily in friendliness and peace. No one posed a threat to anyone else. The people were alert and plain, polite and generous.