On Tuesday we worked with Matthew 8:13, “Except ye become as little children….” This was our entry into the uncarved block or p’u of Taoism.
The small child is free from self-consciousness, from pretense, puts no delay between thought and deed, has an uprejudiced mind full of wonder, and lives by a clear orientation toward meaning and love. These were some of the things we realized we admire in children – in spite of their less adorable qualities – and that we could see as prerequisites to enter the kingdom of heaven or the Way.
We talked about how these qualities might be acquired in adulthood: how we might go from the uncarved state of childhood, through the carved ornateness of adulthood, to a second simplicity. We were all touched by an anecdote in How can I help?, by Ram Dass and Paul Gorman, that seemed Taoist. It involved an old man’s childlike and skillful transformation of what could otherwise have been a bloody conflict.
In our central meditation, it also grew clear that the small child is invisibly accompanied by powers or beings of a purely spiritual nature. This too, is something for us to do as adults – consciously and intentionally to recreate something like a child’s proximity to the personal sources of inspiration.
The te of Tao Te Ching seems to be power, or virtue, or virtue in its old meaning of power to do good, the essential beneficence of a plant for instance. What is this power in the intentionally childlike and non-manipulative adult who has dropped private agendas, and become carefree?
For help here, we’ll again reach into the Gospels. Here is Jesus:
I am the vine, ye are the branches. (John, 15:5)
And then here is Dylan Thomas:
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age.
We are continuous with the primary force – rendered with a vegetative metaphor in both cases here, because it infuses outrageous life in an otherwise dead world of forms and norms. This is what the te of Tao is for: not to get things done, but to continue the original flourishing.
Next week, we aim at the effortless continuity of our minds, hearts and actions with the original sense of things – that compelling opinion that creates the world from the beginning.
All blessings to all,