Tao Te Ching Day 59: Paradoxical Unity

Have you ever had a day where it felt like you were damned if you did, and damned if you didn’t? Shit, I know I have. Today feels like one of those damned days.

The interesting thing about these days is that they look on the outside like every other day. It is filled with all the same rituals and practices that make up every other day, except on these damned days, something important is missing.

Something that many of you already probably have a sense of what I am talking about. It shows up like this—-

Coffee doesn’t give you the pep it usually does.

The morning routine feels flat or even labored.

No song, radio station, or podcast sounds good.

And no matter what the weather is outside, it is the opposite of what you wish it were.

Can you dig it? Do you know this day?

I think if you are human, you do. I believe this is the essence of what the human experience is.

It is the day of mud, grime, and overall blandness. It is the paradoxical unity.

Days like today for me are a testament to what the eastern teachers like Lao Tzu taught. Our humanity is half of the cosmic puzzle to this crazy game we are in.

The Western world of religion teaches that the way to God is through our divine nature. Meaning we must push away our shortcomings, we must not give in to temptations, we must be perfect to reach an ideal heaven.

The Eastern teaching is about reaching Tao, or God, through our humanity. It is in our impossibly imperfect nature that we meet our divine nature. There is no other way around it in the teaching of Taoism, Buddhism, and others.

We are human, and some day’s we are so human that we would miss water throwing a rock off a boat. That is the nature of what we are, and it fucking sucks.

I feel lost at sea these days, uninspired, unmotivated like there is no reason to do anything like God has left me. As if the Tao would flow through a sad sack like me.

However, I find that these are the days that it flows at the deepest levels of our experiential life. When we are entirely lost is when we are most ready to be used. When we can not see past our nose for the darkness that surrounds us, we have no choice but to surrender to what it is that is carrying us.

So like Kent M. Keith wrote in his book “Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments,” “We do it anyway.”

Because that is the paradox, is it not that we humans of such weak and smashable material are made from the same stuff as stars and planets.

We little humans formed in the image of something that loves us even though we exist in this flawed form.

That is the Paradoxical Unity that all of creation Tao is also us. It doesn’t make sense, and luckily it doesn’t have to make sense.

Think of our existence here, so infantesmel in the context of the Universe surrounding us, yet we thrive on a planet with an invisible life-giving force that has no limit (oxygen).

It is incredible that on days like today, I could be without faith or doubt that what is happening the only thing that could be happening; if it weren’t, then something else would be happening.

Lao Tzu gives us this indication of a paradoxical unity in the very first chapter of the Tao Te Ching.

“These two emerge together but differ in name

The unity is said to be the mystery

Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders“

TTC 1 (Lin)

Two names—

  1. Divinity
  2. Humanity

The mystery is the paradox. Why from something so immense and magnificent is something made that is so small and faulty?

However, one does not exist without the other. The greatness of everything is only happening inside the meagerness of that which is me.

I am only happening because of the magnificence of the Tao. This significant disparity creates all that is. We contain all that is in something so weak and little, and we are supported by all that is in all its majesty.

What a paradox; it is no wonder some days, Hoobastank just doesn’t cut it. A lot is going on in here.

But as Kent said, “do it anyway.”

Happy Day.


Published by Matthew Whiteside

I am a writer, a storyteller, a yarn-spinning freakazoid. My life is full of two things today, lessons and blessings. I write fiction mostly but I also love to write about my life and the things I go through on a daily basis. Writing it out inspires and motivates me and that's why I do it. Plus if it does that for me maybe it will for someone else too.

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