chapter 1 : on knowing (and not knowing) our path

by kye on April 25, 2010

So what is tao anyway?

The thing is… we both can and can’t say what it is.  Because among other things, tao is where we are, who we are, and where we’re going.

It’s about our path. And at the same time as we know that path…
we also don’t know it.

As soon as we think we’ve got it down,
we haven’t.

When we think we’ve got it down, it’s a sign that it’s time to step away from that story about our lives which our desires have laid out 123, and feel the whole big unknowable unnamable vastness that refuses to be contained in any story.

Because if we get attached to ‘the’ story of our path, we’ll end up losing our way. That story isn’t the path, and life will show us that fact very soon.

But on the other hand, if all we do is just contemplate the vast wondrous unknowability of life, then we aren’t going anywhere.  And that doesn’t work so well, either.

But if the story doesn’t work, and not having a story doesn’t work either, how do we know where to go?

By paying attention to our desire before the story.
Not the ‘hooked’ kind of desire, not the ‘I want a piece of chocolate’ kind…
but the deep deep quiet yearning towards…

…something that is more than the words we can say about it.

…something that’s right here, if we make the turn towards it, slow down, listen… feel…

…and then move. –A little, questing, experimental-but-certain move that fits this moment, and this creature which we are…

…a creature that is just what it is, in a world that is also just what it is, at this and no other moment.

I’m a creature before any names for me, capable of experiencing the world before any names for it.  In that before-ness, I’m free.

But also, I’m: kye-who-lives-at-the-corner-of-broadway-and-edgewood. Because without a name and address, how will I get my mail?

that which has become
surely isn’t
the eternal

named names
surely aren’t
that which is beyond names

what comes before being
gives birth to all beings

without patterned thinking
we behold the wondrous mystery


by means of our mental patterns
we can see the intricacy
of its myriad manifestations

beholding the mystery
and seeing its intricate manifestations–

these ways are united
in each being
a gateway to the primordial

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

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

©2010 Kye Nelson

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