Tao Te Ching Verse 52
translated by Anonymous
The world sprouts from something
People could call it the mother of the world
When one knows that mother, one knows her child
One who becomes like that child again, will know the mother
And for the rest of his life nothing can harm him ever again
He won't criticize anyone and lets no one influence him
And his life will be without worries
But one who condemns others and whose interests concern only himself
Will be full of worries the rest of his life
One that sees a gleam of light in darkness sees the light at the end of the tunnel
Holding on to that gleam of light requires strength
One who follows that light, turns back to the original light
Then all danger is gone
And you'll live the eternal life
Photo by Lucas Benjamin
Using the Light to Integrate
Lao Tzu says to use the brightness of the way to return to the light. This unlocked a piece of the Integral puzzle for me today. In the Yin Yang symbol, there is the Yang, or the bright side, and the Yin, which is the dark side. Until now, we have been talking about the Yang as being physical energy, material things, and the Yin as being that dark, unmanifested side of the Tao.
Recently, a Taoist master has come into my life, even though he doesn’t know it - I got my hands on some literature that explains the Yin Yang as it applies to humans and our lives. A simple way to put what I’ve learned is that the Yang represents the light that Lau Tzu is talking about and the Yin represents our desires to fulfill our corporeal senses. So if we were to simplify that a bit more, it would be that Yang is my willingness to move into Harmony with the Tao and Yin would be the selfish desires for emotional & financial security, prestige, and intimacy on my terms.
So now it makes sense - using the light of the Tao, or constantly working to move into Harmony with the Tao, sort of as a beacon for when I get lost in my selfish ego’s desires, I can remember what to do when I recognize I’m all up in my ego and move forward into Harmony again. So of course, this is a part of the human experience, isn’t it? We’re here, participating, always going back and forth between Harmony with the Tao and questing to satisfy our base natures. We have the ideal, which is Harmony with the Tao, but we fall short of it often - at least I do, ya’ll.
As I continue to refine my practice, partly by getting quiet and seeing the small disturbances in my Yin, and then partly by remembering to return to Harmony, I keep this process going. Like filtering dirty water through charcoal, over and over. The more I do this, the clearer the water gets.
So for now, that seems to be the mechanism of integration that we talked about earlier and as described by Lao Tzu. For me, the takeaway for this verse seems to be this:
- Everything I do causes ripples
- There’s no way to immediately know my center; I must practice and practice to become aware of it.
- By trying my best to move into Harmony with the Tao, I am integrating my being and thus continue to purify my life’s energy.
And the point of all this? Less suffering and more natural joy in my life, for starters. I suspect that there are more esoteric benefits but I’m content to stay with this for now.