Survival or ?

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 41

The most helpful response to this path is to devote ourselves to it
and practice it diligently.
But most people practice it only half-heartedly,
and some people disregard it entirely, seeing it as absurd.
The Tao reflects to us our own inner attitudes.
This is its greatness.

So we can establish a set of helpful maxims:
The way to clarity will seem confusing.
The way to progress will seem like going backwards.
The smoothest way will seem filled with obstacles.
The greatest power will lie in receptivity.
True innocence will appear shameful.
The greatest resources will appear inadequate.
Genuine goodness will appear suspect.
The truly solid and dependable will seem uncertain.
Effective boundaries will be limitless.
The wisest person will always be learning.



You have probably gathered by now that Nancy and I have been spinning through transition after transition. Just when we think we know, “Ah, this is it!” It turns out not to be the case. We have been blessed at every turn, however. Once the dizziness of the latest change settles down, we see that we have been guided along our best and deepest path. You can see why this particular chapter is so important to me.

In order for the confusing, backwards-seeming, obstacle-filled, and uncertain way to become, in fact, the most powerful and solid way, I must hold to the devotion mentioned in the first verse. Too much of my life has been spent holding my Path and Practice in one hand, and my economic well-being in the other. There’s not enough time left to have it both ways. A teacher of Nancy’s once said, “Are you willing to put your Path ahead of your survival?” Since survival is ultimately impossible, what’s the answer?

4 thoughts on “Survival or ?”

  1. I am wondering what you mean by returning to the path and practice. What is the practice? Path? I have no idea what I am doing it seems.


  2. I’m not sure I know what I’m doing either! For me the “Path” is simply the Tao or Cosmos unfolding according to its own mysterious way. My practice is to quiet all my fears and needs for control so that I can glimpse that path of Tao and let myself be carried by it, at one with it. The elements of a “practice” are different for different people. They are tools for clear seeing and quiet listening. For me they are meditation, qigong, some shamanic journeying, but mostly just a willingness to let go and trust.


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