It is said that the Tao Teh King is the work of the great Chinese sage Lao Tzu. Disgusted with the degeneration of Chinese society, he decided to leave and vanish forever, which he did. But as he was leaving the capital, the warden of the gate asked him to set down his realizations since he would no longer be accessible to truth seekers. He did so, and then went out the gate into the lost pages of human history.
If a person wishes he can immerse himself in the stewpot of scholarly speculation as to who Lao Tze really was, whether he ever existed, and whether he wrote the Tao Teh King, or who did. None of this means anything. Taoist masters through the centuries have proved the truth of the Tao Teh King, and that is all that matters. For truth seekers it stands as a monument to Truth. Even those who understand it imperfectly will reap great gain from its study.
With penetrating insight, Abbot George Burke illumines the the wisdom of Lao Tzu’s classic writing, the Tao Teh King (Tao Te Ching), and the timeless practical value of China’s most beloved Taoist scripture for spiritual seekers. With a unique perspective of a lifetime of study and practice of both Eastern and Western spirituality, Abbot George mines the treasures of the Tao Teh King and presents them in an easily intelligible fashion for those wishing to put these priceless teachings into practice.
“In The Tao Teh King for Awakening, Abbot George has brought to bear once again his gift of making the elusive and not so obvious accessible to the sincere seeker of the Divine in a most readable, enjoyable and, yes, practical manner. His insightful commentary on each verse of this ageless classic dissipates the fog from those minds, especially in the west, that have long stumbled through the intricacies of The Tao Teh King. ..A truly spiritually refreshing experience.”
–Wm. Eric Thomas
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Excerpts from The Tao Teh King for Awakening
Having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth; having a name, it is the Mother of all things.
The Tao is both transcendent and immanent. In Its transcendent aspect–“having no name”–beyond all attributes, forms, or conditionings, It is the Source of heaven and earth, “of all things visible and invisible” as the Nicene Creed says.
But in Its immanent aspect–“having a name”–It is the nurturing Mother of all things. That is, in Its active, dynamic side which produces the cosmos and evolves it to perfection, along with all those intelligences inhabiting forms within it, It is Mother of All.
The symbolic expression “Mother” is used because the child receives its body substance from the mother and is nourished by the mother through her own body in the womb and after birth through breast-feeding. The mother sustains the infant by imparting her own body and life-force to it. In the same way we are inextricably bound up with the Tao as our Eternal Mother.
Beginning as an atom of hydrogen, we evolve through all the forms of life and ultimately transcend them–all through the agency of the Mother Tao. Nothing is done except through–and essentially by–the Tao. We are the Tao and the Tao is us. As the agent for our Christhood, it is the Tao that is our Mother.
Therefore in the government of the Sage: he keeps empty their hearts, makes full their bellies, discourages their ambitions, strengthens their frames; so that the people may be innocent of knowledge and desires. And the cunning ones shall not presume to interfere.
As pointed out previously, there is no use in thinking that philosophers can reform government. But each one of us can apply Lao Tzu’s principles to ourselves as a micro-kingdom. So here is what we are being advised:
- Keep our heart empty of all that clutters or corrodes it.
- Nourish ourselves abundantly on that which is ennobling and satisfy our higher self.
- Curb our aspirations for that which is worthless, meaningless, and contrary to the revealing of the Tao: our true Self.
- Establish ourselves in the correct frame of reference or perspective regarding our life and ourselves, as well as others. This includes very defined and positive morality.
If we do this we shall be free of delusions thought to be knowledge and free of desires for that which countermands our true nature: the Tao. Living in such harmony within ourselves we shall have discovered the secret of life and transcended all that is lesser and unworthy of us. Illusions will then no longer cloud or distort our clear sight.
Unpretentious like wood that has not been fashioned into anything.
Lin Yutang: “Genuine, like a piece of undressed wood.” In English we have the expression: “Plain as an old shoe,” and its variation: “Comfortable as an old shoe.” Both were applicable to the Taoist masters. They were plain and straightforward, yet with a courtesy that was thoroughly comfortable.
They were what they were–they spent a lifetime uncovering what they really were and establishing themselves in it. They never “made anything” of themselves, and lived free of the compulsion to “be” anything in the eyes of others. Artificiality was childish in their opinion.
As a result they had perfect mastery of everything, within and without. Not wanting to strut or display themselves on earth, they literally walked in the sky and controlled nature from deep within where they were one with all. They did not live in the Tao, the Tao lived in them.
This was a blessedness unthought of by the busy and notable of the world. Yet, when those harried denizens of an ever-fermenting society sought them out, they gently did their best to reveal the way of wisdom to them. The Taoist hermits were a great force in Chinese culture, though they never sought to be so.