With Hidden Virtue

by Christopher Lovejoy on August 18, 2013

In my previous post, Immortality Realized, I conjured the idea of spiritual immortality in contrast to the prospect of immortality for the body and the reality of immortality for the soul.

This post is about tapping into that inner (hidden) quality that allows us to express ourselves unself-consciously, that allows us to nurture and guide ourselves and each other spontaneously, with relative ease, while dwelling in that place where death cannot enter.

In this protective light, hidden virtue allows us to sidestep expectations determined or conditioned by birth, gender, caste, or color.

As children of creation, we can release any and all preconceived notions that dictate who we should be, what we should have, where we should go, and what we should do.

Spontaneous and free, we go our own way by aligning ourselves with the supreme (hidden) virtue.

We follow the Way and the Way alone.

Within constraints beyond our immediate control, Source knows that we are always already free to complete ourselves in whatever ways we please, in whatever ways we choose.

Tao Te Ching, Verse 51

This verse calls on us to stretch the limits of our usual notion of virtue (as a controlling means).

Virtue is typically construed as egoic in nature: “if I do this, I’ll keep that; if I do that, I’ll get this.”

Here, we’re invited to go below the ego into the depths of hidden (formless) causes.

The Way
connects all living beings
to their Source.

It springs into existence,
unconscious, perfect, and free;
it takes on a physical body,
allowing circumstances to complete it.

Therefore
all beings honor the Way
and value its virtue.
They have not been commanded
to worship the Tao
and do homage to virtue,
but they always do so
spontaneously.

The Tao gives them life.
Virtue nourishes and nurtures them,
rears, shelters, and protects them.
The Tao produces but does not possess;
the Tao gives without expecting;
the Tao fosters growth without ruling.
This is called hidden virtue.

Edited slightly by yours truly to enhance the flow of text

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

A persistent, subtle force underlies the formation and transformation of this world, a force that is beneficent, producing without possessing, giving without expecting, fostering without ruling.

Might we care to match such hidden virtue?

My Impressions of the Verse

The following statements describe my current understanding of personal origin …

  • the essence of who I am was created by a Source much larger and more powerful than I
  • I’m the soul spark of a Light Being who joined a human animal body with its own personality
  • my biological mother and father, bless their hearts, joined in matrimonial love to bring me to life

These statements offer hints of who I am and where I came from, setting a context for what follows …

The Way
connects all living beings
to their Source.

The Way and the Source are distinct yet related and connected to all living beings.

The Way is a conduit for the expression of Source as and through all living beings.

It springs into existence,
unconscious, perfect, and free;
it takes on a physical body,
allowing circumstances to complete it.

The Way springs into existence from Source unconsciously, perfect and free, so that Source can experience separation to completion with physical vessels and vehicles of exploration.

Ultimately, circumstances do not matter; only state of being matters.

Therefore
all beings honor the Way
and value its virtue.
They have not been commanded
to worship the Tao
and do homage to virtue,
but they always do so
spontaneously.

By virtue of being, whether we’re aware of it or not, we honor the Way and value its virtue.

Unself-consciously, naturally, and spontaneously, we manifest value by virtue of following the Way of hidden virtue, and if you’re reading this, then you appreciate what this means.

No worship or homage required.

The Tao gives them life.
Virtue nourishes and nurtures them,
rears, shelters, and protects them.
The Tao produces but does not possess;
the Tao gives without expecting;
the Tao fosters growth without ruling.
This is called hidden virtue.

All beings are given life by virtue of being. All beings are the beneficiaries of hidden virtue. All beings, by virtue of being, are endowed with innate capacities to produce without possessing, give without expecting, foster without ruling.

Being a vessel and a vehicle for manifesting the fruits of hidden virtue …

Could this be the way to fulfill our lives once and for all?

Implications for Personal Fulfillment

For many, giving up “the reactivity of striving to compensate” is a foreign concept, and for many, the alternative – being receptive, reflective, and responsive – is also a foreign concept.

Being and remaining alert, assured, and blissfully responsive in the midst of change, in the face of the unknown, with a peaceful inner posture of presence, is most worthy of cultivation.

This way of being invites us to enter a cloud of unknowing, to get comfortable with “not knowing”, to be open and receptive enough to know what we need to say or do in the moment.

One major benefit of assuming a posture of allowing and accepting, caring and sharing, receiving and reflecting, in a space of “not knowing”, is that I can be flexible in the midst of change.

Being fluid in the midst of change without being so deeply and heavily invested in one particular outcome, I feel less anxious; I remain open to other, possibly better, options or outcomes.

I can also be honest about what’s happening. Transparency is easier to come by. What happened? I don’t know. What’s happening? I don’t know. What’s going to happen? I don’t know.

I don’t know … I don’t know … I don’t know.

Granted, I might “not know” what happened, or what’s happening, or what’s going to happen, but I can remain calm, comfortable, open, and receptive enough to address it as I go.

As I go … as I go … as I go … as I flow …

As you realize that all things change,
there’s nothing you try to hold on to;
if you’re not afraid of death and dying,
there’s nothing you cannot achieve.

~ Lao Tzu

Such a posture builds momentum, attracting more trust to a capacity to handle situations as they arise, producing without possessing, giving without gaining, fostering without controlling.

Next up: A Practice Most Divine (Living by Returning to the Mother)

/

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

Related Posts

Previous post:

Next post: