chapter 10: can you begin right now?

by kye on July 14, 2010

This is maybe the most important chapter in the Tao Te Ching.  Approaching it, I’m nervous: can I do justice to it?  It’s so deep that I don’t really feel I can.

In my nervousness, I’m not fully embracing the writing.  Something is holding back.

But the text is asking me, ‘can you be undivided?’  –There are no hedges here; it’s not ‘can you be undivided while you’re sitting on the meditation cushion and nothing else is happening?’  It’s an invitation right now, to totally embrace what I’m doing.  It’s an invitation to embrace it as just plain me–and to embrace it with all of me.

And this is possible.  Now I’m with my energy, and my energy is with this.

I soften.  My breath becomes soft, too.  All of me is now here doing this.  Nervousness has dissipated like clouds in the sun, and my vitality rises.  I’m just being interested in this text, and the interest is giving rise to these words.  It’s almost like the words are landing here by themselves, it’s so easy.

And no, I can’t yet do this ‘without deviation.’  But I’m learning!

can you bring the whole of you
and keep yourself undivided?

can you gather your energy
and make it soft as a baby’s?

can you clean the dust from the mirror
and see things, including yourself, clearly?

can you lead without cleverness?

as life comes and goes from the world
can you be strong like a woman?

seeing clearly
can you stay innocent?

a mother gives birth and nourishes
but does not own
works but does not take credit
leads but does not dominate

this is a deep, secret power

— Kye Nelson: translation and commentary on Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching

Comments?  Burning questions? Leave them here

This post was written as part of the tao together project.  Would you like to join us?

©2010 Kye Nelson

Previous post:

Next post: