In his every movement a man of great virtue
Follows the way and the way only.
I see virtue as being linked more to what I don’t do, than what I do. It’s my lust to take worldly action that ends up being disruptive. Thus, waiting is perhaps the greatest virtue of all; only through patience am I able to follow the way and the way only.
In his every movement gets right to the heart of the main source of my difficulties. When my attention lapses and desire gets the better of me, I rush ahead of myself; I lead instead of follow the way, and I stumble and fall.
The Taoist path is essentially a path of following. When I slow down enough to notice my every movement, I can respond to reality as it is. When I’m not following reality, I take charge and push my idealized notions of how reality SHOULD be. Of course reality moves at its own pace and never matches my ideals. I waste a lot of energy for nothing. This inspires me all the more to follow the way things are so I can enjoy the contented state of appreciation.
As a thing the way is
Indistinct and shadowy,
Yet within it is an image;
Shadowy and indistinct,
Yet within it is an essence.
This essence is quite genuine
And within it is something that can be tested.
From the present back to antiquity
Its name never deserted it.
It serves as a means for inspecting the fathers of the multitude.
I’ve noticed over the years that things that once seemed obvious and clear no longer do. The shadowy and indistinct, however, remains constant. Knowing this encourages me to take the cherished assumptions of today with a grain of salt. Anything cut and dry is impermanent, so why invest much energy in it? The only thing really genuine is that shadowy essence that lies at the root of my consciousness. It deserves all the attention I can give it.
Indistinct and shadowy reminds me of common sense, or maybe the source of common sense. It’s not any particular knowledge, and in fact, worldly knowledge can get in the way of common sense; he who has wide learning does not know [see ch. 81].
Its name never deserted it puzzled me at first, for the name that can be named is not the constant name[see ch. 1]. But, of course, only the shadowy and indistinct name endures. All the current names for it—God, Allah, Brahma, etc., all sound different, but are in truth the same reality. Thus, when I hear any of these names used, I simply translate it to it. What ever name humanity will be using a million years from now, the essence will always be it.
And value being fed by the mother [see ch. 20] puts mother first. And from this stems the father and then the multitude. In other words, the way begets one; one begets two; two begets three; three begets the myriad creatures. [see ch. 42] The way is simpler than any name or image can convey. I notice that simplicity is the test of excellence in worldly matters; the simplest solution to a problem is the best. Simplicity serves as a means for inspecting the earthly multitude.
Physics support the reality of shadowy and indistinct. Solid things appear real, but in fact most of the atoms making up matter are space, and even the matter itself is but frozen energy. And what is energy. Energy in space is nothing if not shadowy and indistinct. Only when energy interacts with matter (atoms) do we experience it—and even then only second hand as an effect on matter.
I know not whose son it is. It images the forefather of God[see ch. 4]. I could just as easily replace son with name, for a name for something is like the son of that reality.
How do I know anything? My perceptions of the multitude and any judgments I make all originate within me. That correlates to what I notice, and this correlates to the root of my consciousness; to even refer to it as MY consciousness misleads. For me, the essence of consciousness is like a pool of thisness from which all creation drinks. This is the only thing which is real and eternal. Everything else about me is relative and transitory.
How do I know that the fathers of the multitude are like that? By means of