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Living With The Tao Te Ching : Verse 7


The Tao is infinite, eternal.

Why is it eternal?

It was never born;

thus it can never die.

Why is it infinite?

It has no desires for itself;

thus it is present for all beings.


The Master stays behind;

that is why she is ahead.

She is detached from all things;

that is why she is one with them.

Because she has let go of herself,

she is perfectly fulfilled.


 

What Is It All About?


We are constantly reminded in the Tao about the way of things that are greater than ourselves. The very way that the Tao is written is intentionally designed to confuse our rational, logical minds and leave us no choice but to surrender to the essence of the words, rather than deciphering their meaning or cracking the code.


The Tao is trying to point the way for us, without giving us too much, knowing that if it provided us with too much concrete detail the mind would devour it, focus on it and lose itself in it.


So it subtly urges us on to find the other world that exists within our ordinary world. Not the world of ‘all particular things’ - the physical world - but the world beyond our senses and our thoughts.


It was never born;

thus it can never die.


It exists, though it is never born. Never born in the sense that it cannot be made physical.


It can never die therefore because it has never existed in a physical sense; and we have no evidence as yet to suggest that something that isn’t physical can die.


It has no desires for itself;

thus it is present for all beings


It has no desire for itself because desire only exists in a world of time and space, whereby the present moment appears lacking, and something else is required to achieve perceived satisfaction.


When you are not seeking something else, you are present, in this moment with reality, where the Tao can be found.


The Master stays behind;

that is why she is ahead.


The Master, as previously alluded to, isn’t some mystical guru beyond our reach but rather the better version of ourselves, the one we can be when we can let go of the mind and follow the Tao. We are all the Master in the making.


The Master stays behind: that is why she is ahead. I take this literally to mean The Master is one who can sit behind the mind, watching the constant stream of thoughts pass by but without the desire to believe them, act upon them or even to rid themselves of them. When you don’t waste time and energy chasing the illusions of the mind, you have the focus and energy to follow the path of heart.


When you let go of the mind’s attachment to things, then anything that comes and goes, in and out of your awareness, and indeed possessions are seen as just transient. Everything can be appreciated in the moment and let go of at the same time. There is no desire to own, control, hoard, protect - simply to just enjoy, while it lasts.

 

How To Practically Apply Verse 7 In Ordinary Life


Take the time to notice the moments where you get drawn into your thoughts. Where are you defensive, tense, stressed, uptight? It’s likely to be because in some way or another you are arguing with reality; wanting to be somewhere else; scared of losing something you have; scared of not getting what you want; scared of getting what you don’t want.


Whenever you catch yourself having a stressful feeling, let go. Allow it to be there. Don’t judge it or push it away. Allow it the freedom to exist in that moment. If it is there, it is there. That’s reality. In the clarity that acceptance brings, you may begin to see, with clear objectivity, what the thought or feeling was that triggered the sensation in the first place. If you can, great. Allow it. Don’t judge it. If you can’t quite grasp the initial trigger then that’s fine too. Maybe next time it will come to you.

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