Sunday, April 17, 2016

Thoughts on the Tao Te Ching 62

Poem 62

The Tao is the center of the universe, 
the good man's treasure,

the bad man's refuge.

Honors can be bought with fine words,
respect can be won with good deeds;
but the Tao is beyond all value,
and no one can achieve it.

Thus, when a new leader is chosen,
don't offer to help him
with your wealth or your expertise.
Offer instead
to teach him about the Tao.

Why did the ancient Masters esteem the Tao?
Because, being one with the Tao,
when you seek, you find;
and when you make a mistake, you are forgiven.
That is why everybody loves it.


Recently, I read the bestselling book of the renowned Franciscan writer and mystic Fr. Richard Rohr about the practice and nature of contemplation, or, as we generally call it today, meditation.  It is a gem of a book, and its title sums up its essence and power, namely Everything Belongs.  Another less powerful way of stating this powerful insight would be to say that in spirituality everything connects to everything else.  Spirituality is all about connecting and connectedness.  And so, in our above poem, we read that "The Tao is the centre of the universe."  It is the centre about which everything holds.  It is, as it were, the nucleus of the atom at the level of quantum physics where everything holds in wonderful balance between the clusters of positive protons and neutrons and negative electrons spinning about it.

It is hard to believe that it is forty one years since the physicist Fritjof Capra wrote his ground-breaking and enthralling book called The Tao of Physics which has always enjoyed a cult status.  The learned Capra teases out wonderful parallels between quantum theory and relativity on the one hand, and Eastern mysticism on the other.  He describes with great clarity what physics has to say on the nature of the universe, and in particular our theories about space and time.  He underlines the similarities between physics and how Shintoism, Buddhism and so on view the universe.  It is also more than a little interesting to note that Niels Bohr, the famous Nobel physicist adopted the t'ai chi t'u (better known as the Yin-Yang symbol) as his family coat of arms after a trip to China in the 1930s as he felt it symbolised the concept of wave-particle complementarity.  Heisenberg was also another physicist who was well aware of such parallelisms between quantum mechanics and Eastern religions and philosophy.  Lastly, with respect to Capra's opus, it is worthwhile to return to what the author himself says in his epilogue to his book: "Physicists do not  need mysticism, and mystics do not need physics, but humanity needs both."

Humanity needs both physics and mysticism and the heart and goal of both is indeed parallel and similar, viz., the search for a unifying theory of everything and unity with the Godhead respectively. Perhaps, in the final analysis, both quests are one and the same, or at least converge at the one point. After all parallel lines are said to meet at infinity in the ideal line.

We are all seekers, who in the Tao, are true finders.

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