Look at it, it cannot be seen
It is called colourless
Listen to it, it cannot be heard
It is called noiseless
Reach for it, it cannot be held
It is called formless
These three cannot be completely unraveled
So they are combined into one
Above it, not bright
Below it, not dark
Continuing endlessly, cannot be named
It returns back into nothingness
Thus it is called the form of the formless
The image of the imageless
This is called enigmatic
Confront it, its front cannot be seen
Follow it, its back cannot be seen
Wield the Tao of the ancients
To manage the existence of today
One can know the ancient beginning
It is called the Tao Axiom
What cannot be seen, what cannot be heard, what cannot be felt? The ineffable, the divine, the all-knowing cannot be chased. By not seeking it you will come to it. That may be hard to try and get your head round so don’t bother! Simply have faith. Even when you forget just come back to faith. It’s easy to get distracted but the more you come back the easier you will find it to stay on the path. Do what you can to minimise distractions. Make time for contemplation and reflection, even if it’s only a few minutes a day. Those minutes will expand as will your sense of peace. Sit in silence, remain open to something greater than you yet let go of any expectations. Do not expect something to happen for you will surely be disappointed. It is in the ordinariness of everyday things that you can start to develop a sense of wonder about everything. Just like small children do. Be curious, interested and fascinated in everything for therein lies the divine. It is in the stillness, the spaces, the gaps. It’s where you aren’t looking. If you look for it you will never find it. Then you will realise it was there all along and there was no need to search for anything. Everything is perfect – including you- just as it is. There is no need to force a flower to bloom. It just happens in divine timing and so will you bloom too if you simply allow. Isn’t that a better, more fulfilling way to live your life?
You will inspire others too and have a greater effect than you could ever imagine if you only work on cultivating peace from within. Nothing outside of you will ever be able to disturb it because you know it’s all insubstantial anyway.
Favor and disgrace make one fearful
The greatest misfortune is the self
What does "favor and disgrace make one fearful" mean?
Favor is high; disgrace is low
Having it makes one fearful
Losing it makes one fearful
This is "favor and disgrace make one fearful"
What does "the greatest misfortune is the self" mean?
The reason I have great misfortune
Is that I have the self
If I have no self
What misfortune do I have?
So one who values the self as the world
Can be given the world
One who loves the self as the world
Can be entrusted with the world
‘Honour and disgrace can surprise a person.’
Fame and infamy are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other. If you remember you are not separate from anyone or anything then you have nothing to fear and nothing to lose.
Your body is insubstantial. Eventually it will fade away and die. As it decomposes it goes back into the earth. That is the cycle of life and death – both of which are illusions. You look at everything in black and white terms. However there is no black and white without all the shades in between.
Everything is a process. Everything is always changing even if the process is very slow and you can’t see it with your naked eye. Remember this then you won’t go seeking happiness in material things.
Find peace and connection within. Remember you are part of everything, the great ‘I am’. There is nothing to fear because you are not your body. Trying to grasp onto it, to try and capture eternal youth, to fear growing old is all a waste of effort. Embrace change and be curious about the future and what it may hold. Stay open you all your experiences and don’t judge them as good or bad. You only create more suffering for yourself when you do.
Kindness will save the world. It is not weak or soft. It takes great strength and courage not to react angrily or in a fearful way. Lead by example even when others are being unkind for they are hurting inside. Only radiate love and be love because love is what you really are. One day you will realise this fully.
The five colors make one blind in the eyes
The five sounds make one deaf in the ears
The five flavors make one tasteless in the mouth
Racing and hunting make one wild in the heart
Goods that are difficult to acquire make one cause damage
Therefore the sages care for the stomach and not the eyes
That is why they discard the other and take this
Nothing outside of you can bring lasting happiness. Sensory pleasures are transitory. Craving them only leads to suffering which causes us to act in irrational ways. Be kind to yourself though when you find you are acting like this. Remember you're always doing your best. Come back to the breath. Centre and ground yourself. Feel your connection with the earth. Breathe deeply and slowly. Ahhhh…
Seeking pleasure alone will cause you eventually to get overwhelmed. ‘There is so much choice. I get like a rabbit in the headlights. The more I have, the more I want and the more empty I feel!’
Then let go of craving. Recognise it when it occurs. Honour your feelings and don’t try to suppress them. Let them flow through you. It’s ok to feel, to be sensitive and have emotions. It’s all part of the human experience. Think for a moment. What would you be without them? Dull and lifeless. They remind you that you're alive, that life is precious and also meant to be enjoyed. But that view of ‘enjoyment’ gets distorted and that’s when you start to seek satisfaction outside of yourself. But that will always be a fruitless effort. It’s a waste of time. It will only lead you further down the rabbit hole and the deeper you go the longer it will take to climb out again.
So acknowledge your feelings and remember they aren’t who you are. They don’t define you. They are a result of your conditioning. Where you want to put your effort is being in the flow and breaking free from your conditioned existence. Then you will be at peace, when nothing can shake your equanimity, when you stop being reactive and are kind and compassionate to everyone – especially to yourself.
Thirty spokes join in one hub
In its emptiness, there is the function of a vehicle
Mix clay to create a container
In its emptiness, there is the function of a container
Cut open doors and windows to create a room
In its emptiness, there is the function of a room
Therefore, that which exists is used to create benefit
That which is empty is used to create functionality
The emptiness of the void. We tend to ignore what we can’t see thinking it unimportant. If I can’t perceive it with my five senses then why does it even matter? Why would I waste time on such things?
Chapter 11 invites us to a new way of looking at the world. Maybe you hadn’t considered it’s the space in a room that lets us use it – the walls simply define the boundary. Yet without that space it wouldn’t be much use would it?
Same with the vessel. Without the space you wouldn’t be able to carry water in it. Reflect on that next time you have a drink. Mathematicians – topologists in particular – get it but then they view everything in a novel, creative way.
Consider your body and meditate on the space inside your body. I invite you to take up the 6 elements practice where space is considered an element. The eastern philosophies understand this. Today then is an invitation to review how you perceive the world. Maybe things aren’t all they appear to be.
I look out of my window at the hedge. It is the spaces between the branches and leaves that allow the birds to make their nests there. It provides them with shelter.
Observe the space around you now. Next time you're looking at objects notice the space between them. Expand your mind and enlarge your world. Now you know this what else would be possible?
In holding the soul and embracing oneness
Can one be steadfast, without straying?
In concentrating the energy and reaching relaxation
Can one be like an infant?
In cleaning away the worldly view
Can one be without imperfections?
In loving the people and ruling the nation
Can one be without manipulation?
In the heavenly gate's opening and closing
Can one hold to the feminine principle?
In understanding clearly all directions
Can one be without intellectuality?
Bearing it, rearing it
Bearing without possession
Achieving without arrogance
Raising without domination
This is called the Mystic Virtue
I asked the questions. What follows are the answers I was given.
What is mystic virtue? The great mystery – being open to something that is beyond ourselves, greater than anything the human mind can imagine.
Does it require effort? Yes it does but not in a pushy, striving kind of way. The effort required involves coming back to the present moment when the mind has wandered. It is possible to make it easier by reducing input and minimising distractions. Make time for regular reflection and meditation – that takes some effort especially in today’s busy world. You may think ‘What’s the point?’ initially. However after a while you won’t want to go back to your old ways and if you do accidentally slip into them you will find that they are so painful you never even want to go there again. Such is the pain of growth. Others may not understand it at first but if you keep the faith they will come to the awareness for themselves or they may simply disappear from your life.
What about uniting the body and spirit? How does one do that? There is nothing to be united. That they are two separate entities is an illusion, non-duality. At first you may try to unite them – this is the process of integration, bringing everything back together into a whole. You may try and separate them but by working on the body the spirit evolves and vice versa. You don’t even have to believe it. Nature takes care of itself. That is the ‘mysterious nature.’ It simply ‘is.’ That is its essence. There is no need to try and intellectualise it – it can’t be explained in words. Embody it. Feel it. Don’t try to figure it out – it will only blow your mind. Keep practising – effort without effort – that is the paradox. Let it flow and don’t try to force anything. Stay calm and centred. Be in the present moment for that is all there is now and forever.
Holding a cup and overfilling it
Cannot be as good as stopping short
Pounding a blade and sharpening it
Cannot be kept for long
Gold and jade fill up the room
No one is able to protect them
Wealth and position bring arrogance
And leave disasters upon oneself
When achievement is completed, fame is attained
This is the Tao of Heaven
When you achieve something let it go. If you hold onto the glory – or rather try to cling onto it – it will only fester. Glory and fame are short-lived. Tomorrow everyone will have forgotten about you and moved onto something or someone else.
Recognise your achievements by all means but only for yourself. Let them go and then they will benefit everyone. It is the altruistic thing to do. Holding onto pride will only cause you pain and suffering as you come to realise nothing lasts forever.
Pride comes before a fall as they say. No one likes a show-off, someone who is too full of himself. Stay humble, don’t brag – no one is impressed. That way you will never be disappointed.
The credit is not just yours. It belongs to everyone. We are all connected so when you do good to others you do good for yourself and vice versa. If you harm someone else you also harm yourself. The pain will run deep and it any affect you for lifetimes. Also forgive yourself and release any past wrongs. Guilt does not serve you. It is a very selfish emotion and self-indulgent. The past is gone and cannot be changed but now you see the error of your ways you can choose to live a quieter, more ethical life going forward. Remember you were doing your best based on what you knew at the time, now you know better and that is to be celebrated but not in an arrogant way of course.
Seek peace by being peaceful. Calm your thoughts. Make space for quiet times in your life. Put away your phone and go out in nature every day. Reconnect to yourself and others. No person is ever truly alone. We are all connected throughout time and space. Time and space are both illusions anyway. The only place is here and the only time is now.
The highest goodness resembles water
Water greatly benefits myriad things without contention
It stays in places that people dislike
Therefore it is similar to the Tao
Dwelling with the right location
Feeling with great depth
Giving with great kindness
Speaking with great integrity
Governing with great administration
Handling with great capability
Moving with great timing
Because it does not contend
It is therefore beyond reproach
You can support people, have empathy and compassion for them without getting caught up in their dramas. Detachment doesn’t mean you don’t care. It just means you don’t buy into their stories.
When you're connected to the flow of life you aren’t afraid to go to the places in your subconscious that scare you. Shining a light on these places makes them less intimidating and then you realise there was probably nothing to fear in the first place. You let things come in and out of your life without trying to change them. However as you change, as you ascend, you change the world around you. If you remain open and are able to adapt to whatever is happening then life becomes easier and simpler. There is no need to worry. You will have the effect that is needed and can flow through life still remaining centred and calm.
Heaven and Earth are everlasting
The reason Heaven and Earth can last forever
Is that they do not exist for themselves
Thus they can last forever
Therefore the sages:
Place themselves last but end up in front
Are outside of themselves and yet survive
Is it not due to their selflessness?
That is how they can achieve their own goals
The common definition of success seems to be making it to be bigger, better, richer than everyone else. In other words it is very ego-driven. However this kind of success is shallow and cannot last. It is often driven by fear – fear of not having enough. Even wealthy people can have a scarcity mindset and many of them do.
Those who seek to become better people without expecting anything in return will often be rewarded in ways they didn’t expect. Inner peace is the greatest reward because no external trappings can shake it. Look how often people who may have no material goods – such as those following a spiritual path – have a calm, serene aura. You feel better just by being in their presence but you can’t explain why. Wouldn't you want more of that?
Modern success is not bad in itself – nothing is – that is just our notion of duality. However recognise that it won’t bring you lasting peace and happiness unless you cultivate those within. Could you still be happy if you lost everything? That is the true test. Non-attachment. It’s not easy but it’s simple. Dedicate yourself to the practice and see what happens. Notice how we are all attached to ephemeral things. How crazy is that? A new car will wear out, bright clothes fade over time and a house will eventually fall down.
Expecting things to last and trying to hold onto them will create unhappiness and suffering. We don’t expect flowers to last forever yet we enjoy them while they are blooming. It all comes back to being happy in the moment. Appreciate things for what they are now.
Stay safe and be happy.
The valley spirit, undying
Is called the Mystic Female
The gate of the Mystic Female
Is called the root of Heaven and Earth
It flows continuously, barely perceptible
Utilize it; it is never exhausted
The mystic nature – we all have it however it is so often disregarded these days. If I can’t see it or perceive it with any of my five senses then it can’t be real!
In the modern world many refuse to believe in a power greater than them. Yet they – all of us- are part of that power. It is in all of us. We all have the ability and potential to ascend and transcend our earthly suffering. I feel as if things are going to get worse before they get better. Its part of the hero’s journey. The key is learning to ride the waves instead of allowing yourself to be overcome by them. Deep in the valley, high in the sky, it’s all around us that invisible force – chi, energy, life force – and it flows through us too. If we resist it then it causes problems – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.
Simply ask – ‘Where am I resisting? Where am I blocking the flow?’ A healer, or a mystic or a psychic can help you if you are unable to find the answer yourself. Don’t give up though. Have faith, have patience and the answers will come; maybe in a way you can’t foresee. Remain open to the possibility. See and hear the messages you are receiving. You have a choice whether you will receive them or not but experience tells me if you don’t they will keep coming back until you do.
You can choose to write – allow your hand to be guided. Don’t make judgements about what appears on the page before you – even if it doesn’t seem it make sense. Eventually it will if you allow the messages you receive to seep into every pore. Breathe them in, embody them on a cellular level. Allow yourself to be in the flow of life now and for evermore.
Heaven and Earth are impartial
They regard myriad things as straw dogs
The sages are impartial
They regard people as straw dogs
The space between Heaven and Earth
Is it not like a bellows?
Empty, and yet never exhausted
It moves, and produces more
Too many words hasten failure
Cannot compare to keeping to the void
Simply focusing on the external world will lead to exhaustion, a feeling of emptiness inside. Nothing in the outside world can bring lasting happiness, everything there is impermanent. Flowers fade, friends die, loved ones move away. When you realise this it is easier to let go. Recognise the inner work has much to offer as well.
Only speak when needed, not just for the sake of talking. Be comfortable with silence. Let go of the need to fill every space. Spaciousness brings peace whether within or without.
Nature is abundant. Things grow without us needing to do anything. It meets all our needs even when it appears to be destructive. The only thing that can’t be shaken is true faith. Connect to the inner world and nothing outside can affect you. When you realise everything is essentially empty you will laugh and say ‘What on earth was I worrying for?’ Worrying is pointless. It doesn’t change anything.
Acceptance is not passive. It is letting go of the need to be in control. Choose mastery instead. Choose love. Choose faith. There is always a higher choice even when a situation seems hopeless. It’s up to you what you choose. No one else can make that decision for you. Letting go, true surrender, leads to eternal peace and recognising the only time is now, the present moment. That is all there is and all there was and all there ever will be.