Concluding Thoughts

by Christopher Lovejoy on March 23, 2014

A week ago, I posted Living Conclusively, my final commentary on the verses of the Tao Te Ching.

In this, my final post in this series of commentaries, I wish to share how the wisdom of Lao Tzu has supported, affected, and enhanced the quality of my life, with a focus on living fully and conclusively.

I rely on a passage from Sam Hamill’s translation, Tao Te Ching: A New Translation, that Wayne Dyer quoted in his commentary on verse 81, in his work, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life.

I believe it would be instructive for me to view my relationship with the Tao Te Ching in light of this partial translation by Sam Hamill, even as I treat it as the central theme of my concluding thoughts:

Sages do not hoard,
and thereby bestow.
The more they live for others,
the greater their lives.
The more they give to others,
the greater their abundance.

Recalling that Great = Boundless, the suggestions here are that the more we live for others, the more opportunities we have for realizing the potential of our lives, and the more we give to others, the more abundance we realize for ourselves, both in terms of quantity and quality.

A caveat comes to mind in response to these suggestions: “living for others” does not mean “sacrificing ourselves for others” in terms of time, money, or energy spent, which means, at a basic level, that we do not give to others that which we ourselves genuinely need.

As I stated in my previous post, and I quote, …

To live essentially and imaginatively, to live affirmatively and expressively, to live boundlessly and limitlessly, in accordance with your essence and your potential, in harmony with the living Tao, is to live fully and conclusively. To live fully and conclusively is to be deeply satisfied and wholly fulfilled.

Now here is where things get a little tricky.

The western tendency is to aim for gratification (not to be confused with satisfaction) in each and every moment and to put off fulfillment until later, at some mystical, magical point in the future.

Here, the way to be is to do, and do, and do, and … do.

Recall, however, the famous line from Lao Tzu: the way to do is to be, with a double emphasis on be.

Every verse of the Tao Te Ching is an attempt to use language to express the inexpressible, to answer five perennial questions: who am I, what am I, and where am I? Why am I here and how am I to live?

The answers are astonishingly simple (but not so easy to understand and appreciate).

I am, and I am that I am. I am here, now, and I am here to be as I am. All else are details, which we can all glean from the Tao Te Ching.

To live fully and conclusively, to be deeply satisfied and to be wholly fulfilled, is not to live your life as it were over and done with, with nothing more to be or have, with nothing more to say or do.

To live fully is to satisfy the soul, to live from your essence, to affirm your essence, boundlessly, and to feel deeply satisfied with the quality of your life, with the quality of your encounters.

To live conclusively is to fulfill the spirit, to live imaginatively, to express yourself creatively, limitlessly, and to feel wholly fulfilled with the vitality in your life, by the vitality of your experience …

… while recalling and applying where possible, as long as you feel you need them, these words of wisdom from the Tao Te Ching:

Sages do not hoard,
and thereby bestow.
The more they live for others,
the greater their lives.
The more they give to others,
the greater their abundance.

So how has the Tao Te Ching supported, affected, and enhanced the quality of my life, in terms of living fully and conclusively?

In the time that I’ve read, studied, and written about the Tao Te Ching, I have been able to summon the courage to be and do many things: selling, donating, and recycling most of my possessions; caring for someone who feels emotionally challenged by conditions and circumstances beyond her control; leaving my cosy, comfortable home of twelve years to travel across the country, to move and settle into five wonderful places in less than four months; putting myself out there and volunteering my time to a variety of causes as part of a spiritual community.

As of mid-August 2013, I’ve seen more, learned more, and experienced more in the last four months than I have in the last four years. When I live in being, from being, for being and for the love of being, my life feels complete in every moment, with no compelling need to regret the past or to foresee a future that does not yet exist.

Truly, life is a journey, with destinations that we fix only in our own minds: the learning and growing, the exploring and expanding, the creating and evolving, are all ongoing reflections of the Tao in 3D.

As a book of wisdom, the Tao Te Ching has much to offer the hungry wisdom seeker, providing as it does, with effective commentary, a benchmark for spiritual awakening in a process of discovery.

To get you started, and to keep you going if you so choose, here are some cues and clues to the process, expressed in simple terms:

Be at peace, trust your essential nature, know that all is perfect; most of all, do nothing (i.e., be). Live the hidden virtue, and if you feel yourself being pushed or dragged into conflict, refuse to have enemies. Keep no violence in mind – no thirst for retribution or revenge – and no judgment. Be all of this while remaining centered in the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-loving perfection of the Tao, even in the face of what you perceive as insurmountable or believe is impossible. Then, and only then, will you be able to call yourself a soul and spirit of the Tao.

If any of this puzzles or intrigues you, I invite you to pick up a copy of Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, and, if you feel so inclined, read or review my take on the Tao Te Ching, starting here.

For those who followed my commentary from day one, thank you.

Next up: Confucius or Lao Tzu?

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