Twenty-First Chapter: Tao-te Ching | Madhu Bazaz Wangu
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Twenty-First Chapter: Tao-te Ching

Twenty-First Chapter: Tao-te Ching

Twenty-first Chapter:
Tao-te Ching

The greatest virtue is to follow the Tao and the Tao alone.

The Tao is elusive and vague.
Although vague and elusive,
It gives rise to form.
It gives rise to shapes.
Although dark and obscure,
It is the essence.
The life-breath of all things.

From the time of old until now, its name has been preserved
In order to recall the beginning of all things.
How do I know the way of all things in the beginning?
By looking at the Tao within me.


As I understand it:

In this chapter Lao Tzu reaffirms (see chapter 1) the significance of being aware of the human paradox — on the one hand, the unknowns (where we come from, where we go, why are we here) and on the other, inner feeling of Tao.  

From formless we become formed; from nameless, named. The source of energy, the Tao that creates us, animates through our thoughts and actions. If we have a thirst for knowing this elusive and intangible energy we can experience it through contemplation and meditation.  When we experience it, our attention shift from seeking position, power and possessions to inner peace. We feel this peace all the time — inside us and everywhere else.

Some of Lao Tzu’s teachings may seem to advise passivity and meekness. However, he wants us to immerse ourselves in all that we do and yet be free of goals; become one with our task, flow with the creative source, without concern for the end result. This is a warning against aggressive action that seeks to shape life with selfish desires – no matter what. He warns us not to spit against the wind. 


Suggested Readings: 

The Way of Lao Tzu, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. 1963.

Dyer, Wayne W., Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of Tao. Hay House, Inc. 2007.

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