Singapore Botanic Gardens – the Tao

The first flowers to emerge within the evolutionary process were probably a variety of water lilies.

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In our travels around the world, we have seen many black swans. Here is one at the Singapore Botonic Gardens. I had previously though that black swans were rare but now I think they are merely unusual.

In parallel fashion: Not many people follow a spiritual path, but such people exist everywhere.

I am reviewing verses from the Tao te Ching. When Lao tsu mentions the Tao, what does he mean?

Chapter 5 (translation by Steven Mitchell):

“The Tao doesn’t take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn’t take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.

The Tao is like a bellows:
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

Hold on to the center.”

Lao tsu, writing in the 6th century BCE (or maybe 5th or 4th century BCE) describes a concept, the Tao, which is vaguely equivalent to God, but the Tao does not judge. It does not send people to heaven or hell.

I will be thinking about this while visiting the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The Tao has mysterious qualities — beyond words. It is equivalent to reality but gives birth to reality. To talk about “reality” in an abstract way leads to the illusion of understanding. The more you talk about it, the less you understand.

Lao tsu refers to the Tao as useful — like a bellows, whose emptiness gives it functionality. The Tao (reality) provides a foundation for biological evolution — bringing all present species into existence. Although the Tao does not take sides, there are winners and losers.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens contain one of the most astonishing collections of orchids on earth — products of the evolutionary process.

Flowers require pollination to reproduce. Within the evolutionary process, flowers are not inherently good and the bee is not inherently bad — both are merely products of the evolutionary process.

But talking about flowers does not generate a true understanding of them. Lao tsu reminds us of the limitations of words.

Here is a homework assignment for you: Google the words “flower sermon – Buddha”

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The Tao doesn’t take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.

Here is a flower.

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Most Westerners believe that God created good and evil and that God is against evil. Elements within Western psychology and philosophy reflect this notion — humans are at war with evil but this evil is both inside and outside.

Christians seek forgiveness for being evil.

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The flowers are not at war with each other — but they are part of an evolutionary process.

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The Tao is like a waterfall — available, useful, marvelous.

The Tao is like a bellows — empty but infinitely capable –a metaphor for evolution.

The emptiness is useful but beyond words — who can understand it?

Many people look at the orchids — they photograph themselves, and others, in front of the flowers. We humans place ourselves in front of nature but we are actually past of it — the good, bad, up, down, large, small.

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The flowers provide the sermon — they are the master.

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The Master doesn’t take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.

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“There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us, that its’s hard to tell which of us should try to reform the rest of us.” [a non-quote from Mark Twain]

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The Tao is like a bellows:
it is empty yet infinitely capable.

Can you perceive the emptiness within?

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How is the Tao capable?

It is the source of all creativity. All new things spring from it.

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The more you use it, the more it produces;

How can you use the Tao?

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Use the emptiness.

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The more you talk of it, the less you understand.

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Hold onto the center.

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When you meditate, focus your mind on some target — your breath, for example. When thoughts, perceptions, emotions emerge, let them go and return your focus to the breath.

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