Perfect Goodness?

by Christopher Lovejoy on April 7, 2013

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

To imagine for a moment what it would be like to be perfectly good is to imagine what it would be like to be perfectly bad.

When I am oblivious to such duality, I feel open, vulnerable, trusting, humble, sensitive, empathetic, compassionate – with nary a pressing need or desire to survive, strive, or thrive.

My unassuming trust is buoyed by an intimate relationship with something or someone more awakened and enlightened than I.

I find my serenity through this buoyant intimacy, even as my perceptions and appreciations of beauty and harmony come to me with effortless ease, having me live and love and learn the ecstasy of knowing and expressing the intentions of a Source higher and greater than I.

What if we all lived, loved, and learned this way?

Tao Te Ching, Verse 32

A formidable, formless intelligence expresses itself with heart and soul through a myriad of formations.

The formless informs and transforms the forms we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell each and every day, and the formless brings up countless synchronicities in our lives, whether or not we care enough to view them as applicable and meaningful.

We all carry the presence, the promise, and the power of the formless within, without exception, and with this presence, promise, and power, we have access to the energy and information required to participate in the world of the 10,000 things.

The eternal Tao has no name.
Although simple and subtle,
no one in the world can master it.

If kings and lords could harness them,
the 10,000 things would naturally obey.
Heaven and earth would rejoice
with the dripping of sweet dew.
Everyone would live in harmony,
not by official decree,
but by their own goodness.

Once the whole is divided,
the parts need names.
There are already enough names;
know when to stop.
Know when reason sets limits
to avoid peril.

Rivers and streams
are born of the ocean,
and all creation is born of the Tao.
Just as all water flows back
to become the ocean,
all creation flows back
to become the Tao.

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

Against a backdrop of perfect goodness, we resist and we react to the within and the without so that we can learn and grow and expand and realize who we really and truly are.

Just how far are you willing to go?

My Impressions of the Verse

The philosopher Alan Watts called the Tao “the watercourse way” for good reason.

Water is the ideal model of how to be with the Way: it flows without resistance, shapeshifting effortlessly into ice or steam, melting or condensing as temperatures rise or fall. Below the frequency of light, pure water vibrates near the highest of frequencies.

Believe it or not, water also absorbs the energy of intent.

Masuru Emoto shows us that the molecular structure of water is deranged in the presence of destructive words (e.g., war and hatred) and assumes beautiful, harmonious shapes in the presence of words that unify (e.g., peace and love). Strange but true.

If light is the end of all our learning and growing, then water is our way to the light.

The eternal Tao has no name.
Although simple and subtle,
no one in the world can master it.

The formless is forever expressed by forms. While immersed in a world of changing, evolving forms, how could anyone possibly master the formless in all of its simplicity and subtlety?

If kings and lords could harness them,
the 10,000 things would naturally obey.
Heaven and earth would rejoice
with the dripping of sweet dew.
Everyone would live in harmony,
not by official decree,
but by their own goodness.

I dare say, if kings and lords could harness the 10,000 things, we’d be in a whole lot of trouble. No one would stand a chance of living in harmony, least of all by their own goodness.

This portion of the verse seems quite subtle in its ability to mock, but then, perhaps this is the point of it.

Once the whole is divided,
the parts need names.
There are already enough names;
know when to stop.
Know when reason sets limits
to avoid peril.

In the efforts we make to maintain control, to leverage approval, to ensure the security of our persons, we would do well to know when to stop the incessant push for categorical certainties.

The peril is the peril of getting lost in thought, of getting closed off to the heart, of losing our way.

In this light, a reasonable mind and a sensible heart seem like perfectly good things to have.

Rivers and streams
are born of the ocean,
and all creation is born of the Tao.
Just as all water flows back
to become the ocean,
all creation flows back
to become the Tao.

This is a friendly, poetic reminder that when our time is up, it’s up (quite literally).

These words are also quite prophetic when you realize that everything and everyone is currently making its way back to Source. I refer you to the remarkable book entitled Backwards: Returning to Our Source for Answers, by Nanci Danison.

Implication for Personal Fulfillment

On the watercourse way, the past is a memory, the future is a fantasy, and fulfillment is forever found in the present moment.

Next up: Vulnerably, Invincibly (Living Self-Mastery)

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

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