Profoundly Spacious

by Christopher Lovejoy on December 9, 2012

Two related ways of Being are relevant to a life lived with profound spaciousness: being wholly present to experience and being so relaxed that stillness allows all things to rise and fall, wax and wane, come and go, bringing clarity and serenity. We stay alert and remain aware, expecting nothing from no one: no rush, no hurry, no pressure. As and when we feel buoyant, buoyancy carries us onward; as and when we feel vital, vitality carries us upward. The stillness within the formless hints at the origination of manifestation.

Tao Te Ching, Verse 15

So far, I’ve explored in depth the first 14 verses of the Tao Te Ching, and the further and deeper I go into this book of wisdom, the more I realize just how important it is to retain a clear space within.

The ancient masters
were profound and subtle,
their wisdom unfathomable,
a group difficult to describe.
One can only describe them
indirectly, by their appearance:

Watchful, like those
crossing a winter stream;
alert, like those aware of danger;
simple, as uncarved wood,
hollow, like empty caves,
yielding, like ice about to melt,
amorphous, like muddy water.

The muddiest of waters
clear as they are stilled,
and out of this stillness,
awareness of life arises.

They who keep to the Tao
carry no intention to be full,
but it is precisely because
they are never full that they can
remain like hidden sprouts and
do not rush to early ripening.

Edited slightly to enhance flow and to reflect more inclusive language

Ref: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

The ancient masters embodied wisdom naturally and spontaneously; in times of risk and stress, they cultivated stillness.

My Impressions of the Verse

This verse is rich in metaphor, celebrating presence and patience with a sense of promise and possibility.

If I were to sum it up in terms of wise advice to be given, I would say this: be still, be patient, and know that you are present with a sense of promise and possibility.

The ancient masters
were profound and subtle,
their wisdom unfathomable,
a group difficult to describe.
One can only describe them
indirectly, by their appearance:

Watchful, like those
crossing a winter stream;
alert, like those aware of danger;
simple, as uncarved wood,
hollow, like empty caves,
yielding, like ice about to melt,
amorphous, like muddy water.

Who were these ancient masters? Where did they come from? How did they come to be? How was it that they were able to transcend the mundane concerns of everyday life with such grace and ease?

For those well-versed in what happens in The Great Beyond, these questions tantalize as much as they provoke thought about who we are and what we’re doing here in this dense manifest realm.

The muddiest of waters
clear as they are stilled,
and out of this stillness,
awareness of life arises.

The muddiest of waters is a metaphor for difficulty, grave or great; meditation or prayer in the midst of stillness is often recommended when seeking clarity and resolution in the midst of such difficulty.

I note the wellsprings of action as and when I make time to bring presence to stillness, to be present to the rise and fall of experience.

They who keep to the Tao
carry no intention to be full,
but it is precisely because
they are never full that they can
remain like hidden sprouts and
do not rush to early ripening.

Feeling full and fulfilled come of their own accord as and when I remain open to the play of promise and possibility.

I retain a beginner’s mind and wait patiently for opportunities to arise as and when they do.

Implications for Personal Fulfillment

In my experience, profound spaciousness provides ample opportunities for profound allowance and deliverance.

Ideally, I am watchful, yet relaxed and peaceful; I stay alert, yet assured and leisurely in my ways and means; I yield pliably, as desired or necessary, abiding in stillness, waiting patiently for those muddy waters to clear.

In nature, as with all things natural, everything eventually resolves and becomes clear in the light of day.

“This too shall pass.”

With each passing, perceivable moment, not unlike a sprout growing below the surface, I remain a witness to the emergence of my destiny.

My personal fulfillment is indirect: being and feeling fulfilled comes unannounced, arising as and when it does, from the ground up.

The invitation here is to be an observer, a receiver – neither a constant pushy director of life nor a constant petty dictator in the lives of others.

I slow down. I stop and I smell the roses. I give up the struggle. I breathe: I take a breath (or two). I let go of the stress and the strain. I release the tension. I pause and I smile. 

As hollow as a cave, I stay open to promise and possibility, not unlike uncarved wood.

Until the day I reach mastery, I make stillness a regular part of my daily routine.

I trust the Tao to have its way with me, with the essence of who I am.

Next up: Living with Constancy

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This post is one of many in an ongoing series that began here.

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