Great = Boundless

by Christopher Lovejoy on February 17, 2013

You’ve heard it said: against the backdrops of infinity and eternity, we are puny and insignificant.

There is, however, another, less debasing, more enlightening way to look at our place in the universe (or, if you prefer, our place in the grand scheme of things, of which our perceived universe plays a part).

With respect to the infinitely large and the infinitely small, the macroscopic and the microscopic, the quasar and the photon, we are in the middle of it all, central to the ebb and flow of manifestation.

With respect to the eternally lasting and the temporally brief, the timeless and the timed, the eternal and the natural, we are in the midst of it all, uniquely privileged to live and work and play with both.

Let us keep these observations in mind as we proceed in our reading of the next verse in the Tao Te Ching.

Tao Te Ching, Verse 25

The term ‘great’ implies a standard that measures extent, amount, or intensity; as applied to persons, this controversial term of judgment is synonymous with ‘distinguished’; in describing conduct, the term ‘great’ implies extraordinary significance in excellence.

Where the Tao Te Ching is concerned, however, the term ‘great’, as used in this translation of verse 25, implies a quality of boundlessness: that is to say, and I quote, “Great is boundless; boundless is eternally flowing; ever flowing, it is constantly returning”.

There was
something
formless and perfect
even before
the universe was born.

It is serene.
Empty. Solitary.
Unchanging. Infinite.
Eternally present.
It is the Mother
of the universe.

For lack of
a better name,
I call it the Tao.
I call it great.
Great is boundless;
boundless
is eternally flowing;
ever flowing,
it is constantly
returning.

Therefore,
the Way is great,
heaven is great,
earth is great,
people are great.

Thus,
to know humanity,
understand earth.
To know earth,
understand heaven.
To know heaven,
understand the Way.
To know the Way,
understand the great
within yourself.

Edited slightly by yours truly to enhance the flow of text

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

The most significant line in this verse, when read in context, is the concluding line: “To know the Way, understand the great within yourself.”

Sagaciously speaking, the great within myself has nothing to do with being better or doing better or having more than anyone else.

Just to be clear: “the great within myself” does not equal “my greatness”.

My Impressions of the Verse

In so many words, this verse invites us to open up, to receive with trust a breath of boundlessness.

There was
something
formless and perfect
even before
the universe was born.

In the origination and manifestation of the 10,000 things, some one and some thing dwells timeless, formless, and complete with an infinite, eternal capacity to dream entire worlds into existence to experience what it knows in thought.

Latent energy and information arise primal and formless, energizing and informing processes of formation and transformation, respectively, manifesting a matrix of matter to convey organicity, sentience, consciousness, and awareness.

It is serene.
Empty. Solitary.
Unchanging. Infinite.
Eternally present.
It is the Mother
of the universe.

In the timeless now, the supreme agency of creation and manifestation is not only always already formless and complete, it is also wholly present to its creations and manifestations. Whatever it can be, do, and have, we can be, do, and have on a smaller scale.

For lack of
a better name,
I call it the Tao.
I call it great.
Great is boundless;
boundless
is eternally flowing;
ever flowing,
it is constantly
returning.

I find it curious that these words emphasize the impersonal aspect of creation to the exclusion of any personal involvement from a supreme conscious, creative agency of intelligence and intentionality in possession of a conscience with a capacity for devotion.

But then, as we are (each of us) fractal expressions of it, then perhaps it is up to each of us to be personal, conscious, creative, intelligent, intentional, conscionable, responsible, wholly authentic, intimate, sacred, divine, devotional, and devoted in our respective inspirations and aspirations.

Therefore,
the Way is great,
heaven is great,
earth is great,
people are great.

Everything and everyone is great: i.e., everything and everyone in creation, in the world of the 10,000 things, is boundlessly manifesting and connecting as One to a boundless Source of creation, boundlessly affecting and being affected by First Source and Omega Prime.

Thus,
to know humanity,
understand earth.
To know earth,
understand heaven.
To know heaven,
understand the Way.
To know the Way,
understand the great
within yourself.

Again, we are, each of us, central to the activity of creation – to the activity of humanity, heaven and earth, even the Way itself.

What might we learn from understanding (or more humbly, attempting to understand) the great within ourselves?

Implications for Personal Fulfillment

If the Tao (God, Source, the Way) is great, i.e., boundless, then there must be something not so great, i.e., bounded, about the Tao (God, Source, the Way), by which to create a contrast that allows us to appreciate both the bounded and the boundless.

I myself am bounded by matter, by energy, by information, in form, in space, in time.

As I type these words, I can watch fingers tapping keys on the keyboard of a laptop.

These fingers have distinct boundaries, which are tapping on keys that have distinct boundaries, typing words that are bounded to form sentences that are bounded, to express bounded thoughts with a language that is bounded.

I could set an intention to write forever, to express thoughts forever, from one incarnated lifetime to the next (from a temporal perspective in third density), for all of eternity, with the expectation that I remain connected with greatness, i.e., boundlessness.

But I won’t, because, as much as I enjoy writing, I strongly sense that this expectation would (eventually) pinch the flow of my connection with boundlessness as fresh, novel circumstances arose in spite of myself, in one of my lives.

Truly, intention is at the heart of who I am, but the moment I set one, I separate my will with expectation from boundlessness. In light of this, how might I cultivate a respecting, respectful, respectable relationship with boundlessness?

I do recognize and appreciate the actual bounty of allowing boundlessness to become bounded by form, in space and time, but I also recognize and appreciate the potential bounty to be had from tapping boundlessly into boundlessness.

Do I go this way or that Way?

Do I trap myself in boundedness or do I lose myself in boundlessness?

If I suddenly experience a fervent desire, should I set the intention to fulfill it and thereby trap myself with an expectation? Or should I merely follow this existential approach: (1) breathe; (2) be present; (3) resist not the presentations of encounter and experience.

Is there a middle way? A third option? A way to negotiate the extremes of both, a way to navigate between the extremes of both, and do so consciously, consistently, diligently, intelligently, reasonably, sensibly, harmoniously, serenely, wisely, and masterfully?

For me, the challenge remains: “to know the Way, understand (stand under) the great (the boundless) within yourself.”

Next up: Peacefully, Blissfully (On Living Calmly)

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