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Tao te Ching, Chaoter 13 - Meditation

Accept disgrace willingly.
Accept misfortune as the human condition.
What do you mean by "Accept disgrace willingly"?
Accept being unimportant.
Do not be concerned with loss or gain.
This is called "accepting disgrace willingly."
What do you mean by "Accept misfortune as the human condition"?
Misfortune comes from having a body.
Without a body, how could there be misfortune?

Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.

Daily Tao - September 26th, 2009

As i become more familiar with Lecto Divina-- the Roman Catholic practice of collecting oneself, reading a snippet of scripture, ruminating on it (medutatio), praying, and silent meditation (contemplatio)--i feel spontaneously drawn to this approach and find myself applying it to my reading of the Tao Te Ching.   My meditatio still looks a lot like critical review and intellectual discusssion-but i feel it softening into a more reflective attitude.  The various readings of this chapter are each wondrous in different ways.  There is even a precursor to Kipling's great Poem "If"
      If you can meet with triumph and disaster
      And treat these two imposters just the same
      ......you'll be a man, my son.
But Kipling's tone seems more striving, more strident, than the translations of the Tao Te Ching,
and his concept of maturity seems different than that of a Taoist sage (or a Catholic or Sufi mystic)
There is no climbing here.  It is best to keep both feet on the ground, even as one's soul soars.

The idea that jumps out at me here is balance.
I don't try to soar to high or allow myself the plunge to low.
Let me be extraordinarily ordinary.
Let me care for my little portion of the world with diligence and love.
Let me care for Dianne's body as though it were my own.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 30th, 2010 11:41 am (UTC)
The struggle I deal with is that when I read these sorts of things, I do not hear balance at all. I hear calls for moderation all through Scripture - in spending, in loving, in keeping holy days/disciplines and in letting them go (the sabbath is made for man not man for the sabbath.) But if I am being honest, when it comes to surrender to God, letting the self die, so that the one inside can live, then I have not actually see the call for balance. My lectio in reading and my prayer always seem to say complete trust, complete surrender, complete, be not deceived, that is what your Savior did, and Ghandi, and King, and Muhammad, and... and...

But when people talk to me about my circumstances, they always want to know where the balance is? How am I being balanced? Innocent as a dove, wise as a serpent? (Does that apply to surrender to God or to trusting this world? 'Cause I don't trust this world. I know it will kill me if I give in to God. I just trust God enough to die... I think.) So how am I supposed to honor that advice. I *want* to. Goodness do I ever. but my lectio does not bring me there. And so then I struggle with a sense that the 'faithful' voice wants to give all and the 'weak' voice wants to give in. I still seek reconciliation. This passage is quite beautiful but in my gut, it beckons just as forcefully toward my death in hope of the life that is defined different but springs eternally.

Of course, the place where this particular passage does challenge me is that the models I gave in response are Jesus, Ghandi, and King... But, consent to accept hardship, die in disgrace, recognize that transcendence is nothing but accepting humanness... That says I might die this death (or fail, whatever) and never have a name like Jesus, King, Ghandi. The purpose I see for myself in God's hands my not exist as such and my death my be like the homeless one in the cold who was labeled crazy or the welfare mother whose enlightenment will be known only to the child she raised safe from violence. This is harder to swallow. Then it feels in vain. But that is the place where faith can still grow, I guess. Because if I die to God, there is no vanity, no waste, and my own enlightenment or God's own pleasure at my ofering are goals enough.
Nov. 30th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
Please allow me to ramble, because your comment really set me off,

Since i first had the pleasure of reading you on lj, i have learned from you and been inspired by you, and more than a little amazed by you. I consider you among my teachers.

As i read your comment, the rhythms of the "Chaplet of Divine Mercy" began to echo in my brain. "For the sake of his sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world." I heard that chaplet many times before i finally read it and what i always heard was "powerful passion"(which can be taken many different ways).
The way i take it is that he was powerfully passionate about the kingdom of God and his desire to see us all be a part of it.

One of the readings of Tao Te Ching 13 (Stan Rosenthal's) ends this way:
"The ordinary man seeks to make himself
the center of his universe.
The universe of the sage is at his centre.
He loves the world, and thus remains unmoved
by things with which others are concerned.
He acts with humility, is neither moved nor moving,
and can therefore be trusted in caring for all things."

I sometimes wonder why anyone who is not autistic would choose philosophical Taoism as a spiritual path. It is so rare to find the word "love" in any translation of any part of the Tao Te Ching. Yet i believe that love is at the core of Taoism as it is at the core of all spiritualities. The legend is that Lao Tse, the alleged author, found 6th century b.c. China to be so "unbalanced' that there was no longer room there for a "balanced", spiritual, human being. I think he might have been "heartbroken" over the state of humanity.

Indeed, if the world has been turned upside down, what is "balance" and how does one find it?

So when i spoke of "balance " i wasn't thinking about a sound mind in a sound body or anything like that. I guess i was thinking more like we are on a tightrope and trying not to fall off. But then i guess the "net" is infinitely large and infinitely soft.

There are "fates worse than death" and i don't that a person who is truly alive fears death.

The world does not break my heart, my expectations about the world break my heart,
Dec. 1st, 2010 03:54 am (UTC)
He who acts with humility is neither moved nor moving. That is a powerful sentiment. You know, I wonder sometimes how much I "want" this journey that I have chosen. I know I want it but the idea of humility as really being not only unaffected but also unaffecting, in the sense of leaving a small footprint. It is so much to accept.


I think I understand your definition of 'balance' better. When I hear balanced in the typical sense I think of 'measured' or 'prudent', neither of which I think resonates with with Passionate kenosis you describe in your reflection on the chaplet above. Your definition it different and I can at the very least *see* the ground for that in the reading you referenced.

I recognize that tightrope you are mentioning and feel like it is the only road I know. I have this sense, though, that I am meant to lose my balance. I am meant to fall off and see if I trust that net to be soft and large or perhaps, not even to care whether it is because I know this is the only road for me, regardless of the outcome.

I know that what I just wrote is folly. And yet, that is the tension. It is my tightrope, if you will, between the surrender that is willing to fall and the prudence that helps me 'survive...'

I hope my previous comment caused no offense. As I explore these concepts in a world that rejects them (not you, actually, but the world rit large) my feelings and experience can present themselves very strongly.
Dec. 1st, 2010 05:12 am (UTC)
Oh, no, surely nothing to be offended about.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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