When the Tao is forgotten

Each day, I walk down the railroad tracks behind my house.

Today, I read Chapter 18 of the Tao te Ching by Lao tsu:

“When the Great Tao is forgotten,
goodness and piety appear.
When the body’s intelligence declines,
cleverness and knowledge step forth.

Lao tsu mentions goodness, piety, cleverness, and knowledge, generally thought to be positive things. He connects these things with forgetting the Tao.

What is the Tao?

The Tao is the unknowable source and guiding principle of reality. Westerners think of it as like God but God judges and is jealous. God is often considered separate from reality — king of reality. The Tao does not judge. The Tao is silent. The Tao is both reality and the principles governing reality.

The Tao cannot be understood. It cannot be grasped. The Tao is sometimes translated as “The Way” — and the way is meditation, looking at the inner universe, the universe inside.

If you meditate, you will find that sometimes there are no thoughts — no good or bad, no piety or lack of piety — no cleverness, no knowledge. But if you lose this state and thoughts return, you can find good, piety, cleverness, knowledge. They emerge from forgetting the Tao.

Here is the rest of chapter 18:

When there is no peace in the family
filial piety begins.
When the country falls into chaos,
patriotism is born.”

If there is peace — inner stillness — there is no need for filial piety or patriotism.

Judging, jealousy, strife, chaos — all connected with forgetting the Tao. Focusing on good, piety, politics, patriotism, you forget the Tao — and all manner of problems emerge.

You can’t grasp the Tao. You can’t see the Tao.

But you can be the Tao — breathing in — breathing out.
When no thoughts come….

It is natural to forget the Tao — it is beyond our grasp and you struggle to get what you want.

But it always present, waiting, silent. Offering a secret place at the heart of everything.


Travelers! Take the inner journey!

Here is what I say: This is too nebulous.

There is a place inside your heart that will help you make the change you need to make. I want the best for you — find that place!

It can happen at any moment — but you will not see the end.

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