The first two lines of the Tao de Ching really struck me during a recent study while in Nepal:
“The Tao that can be told
Is not the absolute Tao.”
Tao is only absolute when we experience it personally. For sake of trying to define it (even though it ‘cannot be defined’ as written by Laotzu), Tao is the way, the truth. Yet truth cannot merely be told to us. On the contrary, it needs to be felt, to be experienced. Only when it is felt can it be real to us. Only when it is felt can it have an impact on our lives. Only when it has an impact can it be the absolute Tao (the way, the truth).
What does this mean for us?
Don’t rely on anybody else’s interpretation or prescription for life. Don’t rely on what well-intended people or traditional, ritualistic fashion tell us to do in regards to living. What others say is not enough–go find out on your own by experiencing Tao. Christ said in the Bible “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). Christ taught us how to feel it. Embark on a journey, He suggested. Go inquire, He said. You’ll feel it if you want to feel it, He taught.
If something is merely told or preached to us, it has no power unless we apply it or seek it out on a deeper, personal level. Even something good-sounding becomes stagnant truth to us if not applied or felt. Truth, like a running river, flows incessantly to create power and meaning in our lives. But we have to jump in–we have to get wet to feel it. Seek to experience Tao by feeling it.
Confucius said: “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.” Get involved with feeling what is true for you. Truth cannot merely be passed over a pulpit or through a book–again, it has to be felt on a deeper level to be absolute. Only then may we understand it. What someone else tells us or presents to us through their personal discoveries or interpretations, their eloquent words, or their poetic writings–regardless of their moral fortitude or religious stature–is not enough for us. It must be felt by us to be Tao.
Stop reading. Stop listening. Go feel it. Make Tao a personal thing for you.
Photo credits: Jason Wilde (Deviant Art)