October 11th, 2010

Drinking from the Breast of the Great Mother

Chapter twenty of the Tao Te Ching has always had special meaning for me.  Compared to other chapters it is not particularly beautiful or mystical or practical.  It does remind me of something i might have written my self, and taken out of the context of a spiritual understanding of things, something that i might have written out of despair or in the grip of depression.  After i discovered autism, i began to think of chapter 20 as "the Asperger's chapter."  Taken out of context and at face value, it seems to say: distinctions are meaningless; i can't fear what frightens others; life is no fun; i can't smile; i feel like a fool; i am adrift., without purpose; i don't know who i am or where i should go; i am lonely, i am different, and (according to one translation) i am depressed.  I am different from other people.  "On being different" is a common title for this chapter.

But then there is that last line, which seems at first glance to be so out of place: "I am nourished by the Great Mother."

Thus is a common spiritual theme, from the first peoples to the contemporary poets--"Fear not for I am with you, even to the ends of the earth."

"I am nourished by the Great Mother" announces that the author is not ashamed of or alarmed by by her or his "difference.from other people."   This is part of the reward for Taoist discipline, Buddhist lovingkindness, Christian "dying to self.." 

The Taoist meaning of being low is humility, perhaps the best of Taoist virtues--perhaps the best of all spiritual virtues since compassion and mercy are best practiced from an attitude of humility.  The emptiness implied by "depression" means that there is room for filling by other things: wisdom. mercy, compassion, detachment.

Daily Tao - 20

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