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Identification with Tao

Part 23 of the Tao Teh King for Awakening

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Nature says few words: Hence it is that a squall lasts not a whole morning. A rainstorm continues not a whole day. Where do they come from? From Nature. Even Nature does not last long (in its utterances), how much less should human beings?

Therefore it is that: He who follows the Tao is identified with the Tao. He who follows Character (Teh) is identified with Character. He who abandons (Tao) is identified with abandonment (of Tao). He who is identified with Tao–Tao is also glad to welcome him. He who is identified with character–Character is also glad to welcome him. He who is identified with abandonment–Abandonment is also glad to welcome him.

He who has not enough faith will not be able to command faith from others.

(Tao Teh King 23)

Nature says few words: hence it is that a squall lasts not a whole morning. A rainstorm continues not a whole day. Where do they come from? From Nature. Even Nature does not last long (in its utterances), how much less should human beings?

Byrn: “Nature uses few words: when the gale blows, it will not last long; when it rains hard, it lasts but a little while; what causes these to happen? Heaven and Earth. Why do we humans go on endlessly about little when nature does much in a little time?” This is really quite clear. We should give only the amount of attention to a subject that it really needs and then let it go. The same is true of action. Our actions should be very economic and efficient. We should do a thing with the minimum expenditure of energy, involvement and attention. This does not mean we live absent-mindedly, carelessly, slovenly and miserly with time and energy, but that we should do all things as simply and effectively as we can. That itself will conserve energy. Another reason for doing this is to keep ourselves from obsessing on things and getting stuck up in them, having them revolve around and around in our mind to no end but frustration and pain.

Basically, we should live with a light touch, which does involve both simplicity and frugality. The idea of someone living in splendor and luxury while indifferent to it is absurd. Who retains what they are indifferent to? A king may have a palace, but if he is a wise king he will live simply and never lavishly.

One of the most splendid places in the world is the Vatican. Its contents are beyond price, and certainly beyond any other place in the world. There are entire countries whose assets cannot equal the Vatican’s. Yet the Pope lives in incredible simplicity. Pope Pius XII’s bedroom was tiny with little more than his cast-iron bedstead. All worthy Popes have lived with great frugality, however the unworthy may have indulged themselves.

Paramhansa Yogananda lived in two little rooms with a little kitchen across the hall. In one of his talks he speaks of having only a little box with a slot in the top for money. He never counted it, but it always contained enough. His mind was in God, so the universe was his. The same was true of Swami Sivananda, who lived in total simplicity.

My sannyasa guru, Swami Vidyananda Giri, lived in a small, barren room containing a plain wooden bed, a tiny wood table and two wooden chairs. He possessed two changes of clothes, one chaddar (shawl) and one pair of canvas shoes. He was providing education (mostly free of charge) for nearly one thousand rural students, many of whom were residents. Yet, when visiting government officers asked him how much money he was given a month by the spiritual organization he was affiliated with, he laughed and truthfully told them: twenty rupees a month (at that time exactly two American dollars). They were not just surprised, they were shocked. How, then, they asked did he manage? “God provides just enough,” he replied. They were so impressed that even though the war with China was going on and most government aid to schools had been cut or stopped, on their recommendation he was given five hundred thousand rupees! God does provide. That is the real lesson. If we make the Tao our support, our very existence, we will live lightly and happily.

Therefore it is that: He who follows the Tao is identified with the Tao. He who follows Character (Teh) is identified with Character. He who abandons (Tao) is identified with abandonment (of Tao). He who is identified with Tao–Tao is also glad to welcome him. He who is identified with character–character is also glad to welcome him. He who is identified with abandonment–abandonment is also glad to welcome him. He who has not enough faith will not be able to command faith from others. Byrn: “If you open yourself to the Tao, you and Tao become one. If you open yourself to Virtue, then you can become virtuous. If you open yourself to loss, then you will become lost. If you open yourself to the Tao, the Tao will eagerly welcome you. If you open yourself to virtue, virtue will become a part of you. If you open yourself to loss, the lost are glad to see you. When you do not trust people, people will become untrustworthy.” Sri Ramakrishna used to say: “Mind is everything,” and so it is. Everything about us in this realm of relative existence is a manifestation of our mind, which includes will. If our mind is changed, really changed, those things change, too. Over and over throughout history unfit people have been given everything they needed only to wreck everything and put themselves right back in the mud wallow. This is why Gandhi advocated teaching beggars to work for a living rather than just giving money that would be spent in a day, returning them to their former state. In this way many were rescued from poverty.

Lao Tzu tells us that what we choose to identify with will be just what we will become in this world. Whatever we choose, that will be awaiting us, for the world is but a mirror for our divine, creative will. Our entire surroundings are revelations of our mind. So if we choose the Tao, we will be revealed as the Tao.

Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: The Dregs and Tumors of Virtue

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Introduction to The Tao Teh King for Awakening

Chapters of The Tao Teh King for Awakening

Preface to The Tao Teh King for Awakening

  1. On the Absolute Tao
  2. The Rise of Relative Opposites
  3. Action Without Deeds
  4. The Character of Tao
  5. Nature
  6. The Spirit of the Valley
  7. Living for Others
  8. Water
  9. The Danger of Overweening Success
  10. Embracing the One
  11. The Utility of Not-Being
  12. The Senses
  13. Praise and Blame
  14. Prehistoric Origins
  15. The Wise Ones of Old
  16. Knowing the Eternal Law
  17. Rulers
  18. The Decline of Tao
  19. Realize the Simple Self
  20. The World and I
  21. Manifestations of Tao
  22. Futility of Contention
  23. Identification with Tao
  24. The Dregs and Tumors of Virtue
  25. The Four Eternal Models
  26. Heaviness and Lightness
  27. On Stealing the Light
  28. Keeping to the Female
  29. Warning Against Interference
  30. Warning Against the Use of Force
  31. Weapons of Evil
  32. Tao is Like the Sea
  33. Knowing Oneself
  34. The Great Tao Flows Everywhere
  35. The Peace of Tao
  36. The Rhythm of Life
  37. World Peace
  38. Degeneration
  39. Unity Through Complements
  40. The Principle of Reversion
  41. Qualities of the Taoist
  42. The Violent Man
  43. The Softest Substance
  44. Be Content
  45. Calm Quietude
  46. Racing Horses
  47. Pursuit of Knowledge
  48. Conquering the World by Inaction
  49. The People’s Hearts
  50. The Preserving of Life
  51. The Mystic Virtue
  52. Stealing the Absolute
  53. Brigandage
  54. The Individual and the State
  55. The Character of the Child
  56. Beyond Honor and Disgrace
  57. The Art of Government
  58. Unobtrusive Government
  59. Be Sparing
  60. Governing a Big Country
  61. Big and Small Countries
  62. The Good Man’s Treasure
  63. Difficult and Easy
  64. Beginning and End
  65. The Grand Harmony
  66. The Lords of the Ravines
  67. The Three Treasures
  68. The Virtue of Not-Contending
  69. Camouflage
  70. They Know Me Not
  71. Sick-Mindedness
  72. On Punishment (1)
  73. On Punishment (2)
  74. On Punishment (3)
  75. On Punishment (4)
  76. Hard and Soft
  77. Bending the Bow
  78. Nothing Weaker than Water
  79. Peace Settlements
  80. The Small Utopia
  81. The Way of Heaven

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