I can not believe I have read and written about the Tao Te Ching for 90 days in a row. I have not even brushed my teeth that many days in a row. (jk, I think)
Do I understand the Tao Te Ching any better today than I did 90 days ago? Absolutely.
Do I think I have a full grasp of it? Hell, no.
What I do realize about the Tao Te Ching is a simplicity and authenticity to life that most religions could only pray to attain. The Tao Te Ching is, “The Authentic Way.”
It is saying whoever “You” are, that is great, be “You” to the fullest even if that is different than anyone around you.
It is saying, “Stop trying so damn hard, sit down, chill out, enjoy life. It is not so damn serious, we are all going to the same place, and we all came from the same place.”
It is saying, “Get into life. Really dig the shit you are doing that is who you are.”
It is saying, “breath, bend, flow, like water, just keep moving.”
It says, “Everyone has their role; let them have it.”
It says, “There is nothing to prove and no one to impress. You Are It.”
It actually doesn’t say exactly any of that, but I paraphrased.
It says, “your greatest treasure is inside you, and it’s not your brain or your heart or your guts, it’s the thing you can’t find when you cut us open but is there for all of us, we all hear its voice and feel its presence.
Although they have armors and weapons They have no need to display them
Let the people return to tying knots and using them
Savor their food, admire their clothes
Content in their homes, happy in their customs
Neighboring countries see one another
Hear the sounds of roosters and dogs from one another
The people, until they grow old and die
Do not go back and forth with one another
TTC 80 (Lin)
We see a Utopia in a dream world of the Tao Te Ching. A place of forever peace and contentment.
When asking how is this possible or is it possible, remember those times when you have known peace and contentment. The reality is the utopia, the heaven, the paradise we envision does exist right now.
Eternity is happening now. Heaven is happening now. The choice is ours to make. It doesn’t matter the weapons or the war outside if there is no peace within, there will never be peace outside.
I believe Lao Tzu was describing his internal world the way he experienced the world even in a time of war and strife.
Therefore, the sage holds the left part of the contract
But does not demand payment from the other person
Those who have virtue hold the contract
Those without virtue hold the collections
The Heavenly Tao has no favorites
It constantly gives to the kind people”
TTC 79 (Lin)
In Derek Lin’s translation of the Tao Te Ching, he notes in this chapter that the holding of the contract is about the way agreements were made in Lao Tzu’s time. They would write a contract on the left piece of wood and the collection agreement on the right.
When it was time for payment, the collection agreement was brought to the party’s door that needed to pay.
So, what Lao Tzu is saying is that regardless of payment or not, the virtuous hold to the left contract, meaning they give without thought of repayment.
Like the Tao of Heaven, which gives without thought of what it is getting in return, giving freely of oneself is the way of the Tao.
Only doing things to get something in return is to be without virtue.
When I really feel this in my life is when I begin to do things without motive, without some contrived end in mind. I can be of service to another human being without thinking, “maybe this will make me look good, or that it will advance my career.” Instead, I am of service because service is what I want to do. It no longer is a means to an end but instead becomes an end in itself.
“Nothing in the world is softer or weaker than water
Yet nothing is better at overcoming the hard and strong
This is because nothing can replace it”
TTC 78 (Lin)
Oh fresh, stanky water, what a beautiful and mysterious creation we find ourselves dependent on. It is only two molecules, and yet it is essential for our very lives. It gives life and it transforms the land. It only flows where it does because of the physical nature of gravity, doing nothing but achieving incredible feats. It is incredible. It is a sage.
It gives and takes away two molecules, Hydrogen and Oxygen. Wow!
I am in awe of that wet ass, earthly breast milk, treating all of us mud pie’s like baby calves.
How can I be weak like and soft like water? I move where life is taking me. I am moving where life is taking me and doing what is in front of me. There is nothing more to it. Life is the gravity that directs us in the direction of being our most whole selves.
My life pushed me to the bedrock of my soul to wait and become clean once again until finally, I was pulled up by another and brought back to life through the service of another. That service transforms me until I am evaporated by the heat of good work being done and become once again with something greater than me. Into the atmosphere, I fly, misty-eyed and found. The culminating of all those before me mixing into a cocktail of love and life, to be poured out again onto the earth, and as we run over the land, we reshape it in the way that it requires for life to be renewed again.
I am reminded of one of my many stints in rehab. I would arrive and be either significantly overweight or well; I was always just extremely overweight and malnourished (lucky skinny addicts).
Anyway, the people at the rehab would always tell us to make sure we eat all of the meals that they provided. We needed the nutrition. They would also tell me not to worry about gaining weight that once I get on a healthy diet, my body will adjust and lose weight if necessary.
I was always surprised when I would lose weight because I would feel like I was eating way more than I did when I was drinking, but when I was drinking, I was barely moving as well, like a beached whale thirsty for seawater I would lay there and wait to die as my body bloated.
Anyway, this passage from the Tao Te Ching reminded me of this little rehab story because the excessive was reduced, and the deficient was added.
This is what the Tao is a healthy diet; I know what a lame metaphor for the source of creation, but it is what it is.
The Tao of Heaven is a well-balanced, nutritious life, if taken regularly, creates a life of fullness, health, strength, and joy that we only thought we knew.
Any way that’s all I got. Eat a balanced diet in all way, mentally, spiritually and physically.
I had a thought today (only one), and it struck me as profound to everything I have been living recently. Some background is necessary for today’s blog.
The past month here is what has happened.
Had a falling out with my dad
Spent an amazing week with my kids
Started a Graduate program
Started a new job as a Football Coach
In the last month of a Peak performance Coaching program
Working on a Teacher Certification to teach in High School
Committed to chairing meetings every week
picked up a new sponsee
It is interesting when I list it out like that in just short little blurbs; it doesn’t feel nearly as overwhelming as it actually has been.
The exciting thing is that I have not felt terribly overwhelmed as often as maybe I am putting on. It has been highly emotional, exhausting, expanding, and exciting (it has only been words that start with E). It has been a miracle as well; I am amazed that I have handled it as well, as I have to be honest.
I am not tooting my horn; by the way, I am trying to make a point about the Tao Te Ching. My point is that being flexible, yielding, and, you know, like a gelatinous goo basically, I have managed to stay sober and, in some ways, thrive and find fullness and joy in life that I had never experienced before.
I also have such an incredible support system of people that love and care about me and that I love and care about. These people help me walk through the insanity of life on days when I do not think I can make it.
Which brings me to the title of this blog.
Relativity of simultaneity: “Two events, simultaneous for one observer, may not be simultaneous for another observer if the observers are in relative motion.” (Theory of Relativity- Einstein, 1905)
In lamens terms, we do not all experience the same event(s) the same way.
Here is why it matters. When I experience a traumatic event, I am affected in a profoundly emotional way, known as suffering. Now another person could experience the same event, but because of their life experience thus far, it does not cause any trauma and, therefore, no suffering.
Example: When I was a little kid and watched Disney’s The Lady and the Tramp, I was traumatized by the scene with the siamese cats. Why? Because relative to my experience thus far in life (apparently, I had never seen a cat), those monster cats scared the living shit out of me, along with that devil song they sang.
I have since watched the same scene and did not feel the nightmarish fear that I distinctly remember having as a child.
So, what changed?
What changed was my relative position to seeing singing cats, obviously.
This relative experience tells us this. When someone experiences a deep trauma that causes them great suffering, it does not have to meet a certain standard of horribleness to be considered as a trauma.
Because suffering is a very personal experience.
However, because we all suffer, we all know suffering well. My cat scenario as a child, if put on a scale and compared with someone who had something horrible done to them as a child, could have possibly ranked as equal.
And this is all because of relativity. If we can understand this about relativity, we can all help one another through suffering.
How do we help?
Let’s go back to the Tao Te Ching, “The soft and yielding are followers of life.” (pg. 76) And, “While the soft and pliant occupy a higher place.” (pg. 76)
Being more understanding and compassionate to the truth that your suffering is equal to every other humans suffering that has ever existed, no matter how it may appear to anyone else.
When we become more compassionate and understanding (I believe this is what soft and yielding refers to), we take each other by the hand instead of facing the Hell of suffering alone; we begin to walk through it together.
If you can imagine we were born and sent down from a place of paradise to experience life and find our way back to heaven, we can begin to see that as we grow, looking at service to others is the way back.
When we wake up to the reality that the Kingdom of Heaven is already here, then we see that each one of us that has woken up has the ability to take the hand of those suffering and walk with them in love and understanding of their suffering until they can see that they have made it out of Hell and are once again in the Kingdom of Heaven.
We can all walk each other home. All we must do is understand Theoretical Physics, Einstien’s Theory of Relativity, The Tao Te Ching, The Gospels of Jesus Christ, The Teachings of the Buddha, and Our Selves.