The Tao Te Ching, written by Lao Tzu in the 6th Century BC (and possibly the 4th century BC), is an ancient Chinese text that forms the bedrock for Taoism. It appeals to a much wider audience than Taoists though because of its deep meaning and nearly an intuitive truth that can be felt.
Composed of 81 sections, the text describes the Tao simply as the ‘Way’. It is the energy of the universe that always has, is and will be, forever changing and transforming from one thing to another. The irony of Lao Tzu reading this would be to scoff that I had attempted to describe the Tao because even in naming it, it changes and thus cannot me named. Indeed, verse one, second line is;
“The Tao that can be spoken of is not the constant Tao”.
The Tao then is nameless, this undercurrent of energy from whence all things came and all things return. It is everywhere and nowhere, permeating all and composing all – from the very physical world we inhabit to the non-physical world we think about.
Chapter 32 appeals to me because in it, is the secret to avoiding today’s ever growing nanny stateism and the overarching control of the government.
The universal Tao has no name.
Although it appears in the plainest and may seem small, It is inferior to nothing.
If the kings and marquises can abide by the Great Tao, All beings shall act as guests and submit to them.
Heaven and earth will then be in harmony and shall descend sweet dew.
People will not require command and orders, Yet can treat each other equally with peace.
When Tao is manifested, names were given for the purpose of distinction.
But one must know how to attain the original pureness in order to avoid danger and disaster.
Tao exists in the universe like the rivers and streams that lead to the ocean.
Within this verse we see that if those in power could understand the Tao, people would naturally align with them. Sadly, power corrupts and so we experience a world where people with power, need power. Thus to rule, requires commands and orders, it requires police and judges and taxes and threats.
On a deeper level, Lao Tzu is describing a state of self we can only experience if we are in alignment with our true selves and thus with the Tao. The Tao flows all around us and when we are in alignment with it, we experience peace. If the ‘Kings’ of this world could act in alignment with the Tao, we would also perhaps, see that there was a better way and thus align also. In this manner, we would not require ‘command and orders’ but would ‘treat each other equally with peace’.
Marianne Williamson, in her book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles” (1992) wrote;
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
This is what Lao Tzu spoke of when he wrote that if Kings and Marquises could abide by the Tao, all beings would act as guests. If those with power could liberate themselves, it is almost as if they would give permission for everybody else to do likewise. Unfortunately, this seems to be operating in reverse at this time. There is a massive groundswell of conscious awakening. More and more people are waking up and slowly beginning to realize just how powerful they are. They are seeking peace – or more accurately, they are seeking alignment with their true selves and what Lao Tzu called the Tao.
Those in power see this and are afraid. They are afraid that people would govern themselves. They are afraid of losing status, power, money and ego. Thus any form of self help in the sense of natural medicines, ‘alternative’ therapies, clean drinking water or even information is discouraged if not actually legislated against. Keeping people in the dark, in a state of fear and subservience to consumerism is the only way to have them obey. Giving them foods and environments that cause them to become dependent on the State for their very survival means they can never be free.
Lao Tzu ends the verse giving people hope – if we can (re)learn how to attain the original pureness, we avoid danger and disaster. This not only applies to our system of rules, states and governance, but our own sense of being. If we can awaken ourselves, if we can begin to align with the Tao, with our own true selves, if we can begin to shake off the shackles of bad food, bad environments, bad water, bad information – all these things that seem to permeate our modern world, then we can avoid the danger and disaster that awaits us.