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A Friends Meeting Ground

Richard Gordon Zyne



A new interpretation of the Tao Te Ching for the 21st Century


Richard Gordon Zyne

© Richard Gordon Zyne, 2009


To Paula,
a pure emanation of the ETERNAL SOURCE.


For my wife,
my children, my parents,
and all those whom I love,
have loved and will continue to love.

For those who are suffering,
have suffered
and will continue to suffer.

You will find
grace, hope, healing and true peace


Texts and Contexts

The Tao Te Ching is one of the oldest and most translated books in history. This little book of wisdom—originally no more than five-thousand Chinese characters—was ostensibly written by an old sage named Lao Tzu. Legend goes that Lao Tzu spent 80 years in his mother’s womb and when he was finally born his hair was snow white and had attained great wisdom. No word of what his mother thought of the whole experience, however.

Roughly five centuries before the Christian era, Lao’s words were making their impression upon the ancient Chinese world. Over the past 2500 years, these eighty-one rudimentary verses have been translated, interpreted, and paraphrased innumerable times—probably almost as much as the Bible.

While Judeo-Christian scripture (the Hebrew or Old Testament and the Greek New Testament) have been scrutinized, analyzed, and rewritten in Latin, English and virtually every language on the planet, there is no “one” definitive text that is accepted by all believers. Perhaps this is a good thing. On the other hand, endless conflicts and wars have been fought in “God’s name” and many of those battles have permanently scarred forever the human map of history. The Tao Te Ching, like Judeo-Christian, scripture discusses the concept of war, warriors, and weaponry and acknowledges this sad condition of humankind.

The true beauty of the Tao Te Ching lies in its simplicity, succinctness, and general lack of law, codes, rules, regulations, dogma and methods of worship and “warship.” While it is generally considered to be a book of wisdom by those in authority, it is not necessarily considered to be a religious scripture in the way the Bible or Qur’an are held up as Holy Scripture inspired by God. Lao Tzu, himself, would probably even say that the Tao Te Ching is not even a book of wisdom because true wisdom cannot simply be written in words or symbols—it must be lived and experienced. And, he who is truly wise does not even know how wise he is.

The Tao Te Ching is full of ambiguity, seeming contradiction, and certainly paradox. Perhaps it should be called the Fool’s Book because the sophisticated intellectual finds much repetition and contradiction in terms. The Tao Te Ching does not present a logical portrait of a universe working in synch with a divine mind or intent. Some say that the Tao Te Ching is simply like good music: it has no programmatic theme but is full of variation and color. Perhaps it is more a book of art than philosophy. If Lao Tzu were here today he would probably say that his words were so profound that they should be ripped to shreds and burned!
All “living” books of scripture, spirituality and wisdom need, from time to time, to be reinterpreted to the current new generation of those who are living in the world. What was important to Plato or Lao Tzu is probably still important today, but the language, metaphors, and cultural context need to be interpreted and updated. Even the magnificently worded King James Version of the Bible has required an updating to make it more accurate and to help it be of more use to 21st century humans. Very few of us can go back to the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Some also have trouble with a good solid English translation.

A true biblical or historic scholar knows that a truly accurate interpretation of any ancient document must be done through analysis of the original texts (the earliest of those available), in their original language of course. This is not always possible, so the scholar has to go back as far as she can to read the words from the lowest bedrock. This analysis is also done with the understanding that the “meaning” of the text must be drawn out and comprehended as if the scholar were an ancient himself. In other words, the text must be translated, interpreted, and understood today by those humans for whom it was originally written. Every ancient text was written and prepared for a life situation that was far different than anything today. There are, however, some basic universal human conditions which are timeless and these, from a religious and spiritual point of view, are always the most important to convey accurately.

This “exegetical process” or exegesis brings out the true meaning of a text. It is an essential characteristic of sound scholarship and the starting point for any real intellectual interpretation.

The popular interpreter or paraphraser, as opposed to the translator, may not return to the original text. Consequently the result may be a document with new meaning and value for a new audience. While this is not necessarily “good scholarship,” it does have its useful purposes.

Living religions and religious systems, however, continue to “live” because their leaders (sages, ministers, priests, prophets, imams, rabbis, healers, and shamans) continue to reinterpret the essential or holy words. This reinterpretation may also be done by the common folk who then, if their words are accepted as important, become religious leaders. Many religious systems, including cults or sects, strive for a literal or fundamentalist interpretation of the truth. Although they might not use the original texts for their worship, they adopt a particular version and claim it to be the official “word of God” or something very close to that. In Islam, for example, the Qur’an should only be written, read and interpreted in its original Arabic and not translated into English or any other language. An English version Qur’an is really not the Qur’an.
But, no matter how scholars and religious leaders try to express the original intent of the words, there is still the need to interpret and re-interpret these documents and the important narrative and precepts within for the current generation. If not, the texts simply become ancient and wholly inscrutable texts of little or no value to modern folks. Even when this is done, however, the result is that there is some inevitable change in meaning. The things that were of importance to one generation may be of less importance to the next generation. Some concepts or ideas are utterly changed or disregarded and new meaning is found in the old words: a new “revelation” so to speak. While Plato’s “cave metaphor” still has vitality and meaning for today, most of the “natural science” in Plato’s works has no real scientific value except from a historic viewpoint. No scientist today would ever use Aristotle’s texts in the classroom except to show how serious people of that time tried to understand the natural world.

In the Hebrew (Old) Testament, when the people of Judah were expelled from their homeland and transplanted and resettled in Babylon, they found new meaning in their new circumstances. They literally had to rediscover their God (Yahweh) in their new world since their Temple was now gone. They could have converted to another belief or become extinct as a cultural group, but instead they rewrote and reinterpreted their old scriptures and created a new way to worship their God. The result was an early form of Judaism which continued to evolve and solidify for the next four hundred years. When the Jews were expelled again from their homeland in Jerusalem and Judea by the Romans, some went back to Babylon and many other places in what is known as the “Diaspora”. These Jews once again reinterpreted their scriptures, narratives, and laws and delivered up a new and improved form of rabbinic Judaism (through the Talmud) that enabled them to survive and thrive for the next two thousand years. Other Jews took a slightly different direction and found their reinterpreted scripture and divine meaning through the Person of Y’shua ha Meshiah (Joshua the Messiah) or, better known as, Jesus the Christ. Consequently (and over a period of a few hundred years) Christianity was born as a new interpretation and revelation of the original monotheistic vision present in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Once again, about six-hundred years after the revelation of Jesus as the Christ, another Prophet, Muhammad, reinterpreted the Judeo-Christian vision for the people of his time and his world and delivered another vision that was firmly rooted in the culture of the desert peoples of Arabia. While Muhammad’s vision has been expanded to include many laws and rules (the Sharia, or the path to the water source) the religion is still guided in many instances by a fundamental and literalist interpretation of its scripture, the Qur’an.

The Tao Te Ching is certainly not of western origin. It does not come out of Judeo-Christian-Islam monotheism or have any connection or relation to ancient Greek philosophy. For many westerners not familiar with Buddhism, Taoism, and eastern philosophy, it is seen as heathen, pagan or as “New Age”. It might as well have come from another planet. It is without an apparent god to worship and sometimes considered of limited value because it is contradictory and without a clear of set rules to follow. This is very unfortunate. Thankfully, the Tao Te Ching has become quite available (in its many incarnations) to the western world and is now a foundational document for both western and eastern thought and quite compatible and complementary with western religion.

All authentic wisdom, religion, and spirituality that has withstood the test of time is of value. It has value simply because it has originated in the human mind and has reflected the human condition with all its trials and tribulations over the millennia. Human beings have struggled from the beginning of time to understand the conditions that define life and reality: birth, suffering, pain, love, hate, disease, death, the state of existence (if any) beyond death, guilt, shame, sin and many others. The list of essential and existential questions has filled thousands of volumes since human beings began to write on clay tablets. This quest for wisdom, knowledge, peace and ultimate reality brings us both great peace and great sorrow because of the consistent ambiguity of life. The Book of Job, in the Hebrew Testament, does not give any satisfactory or soothing answers to the believer. It just leaves us with eyes wide open and a further desire to understand this ultimate reality in which we are immersed. It makes us cry out for union with an ultimate Eternal Source.

The more we think we know, the more we realize that we are truly very ignorant—another ambiguity. The more we are filled with our own wisdom and things of this world, the more we are empty and void of the true wisdom—another ambiguity. But this situation that we find ourselves in is actually a good place to be and a good place to start. And that takes us back to the Tao.


This thing called Tao can be a very difficult concept, or perhaps it is the simplest and most elegant thing in the universe . . . and even beyond the universe. It all depends on “where you are” at this point in your life and “where you have been” in your current existence and perhaps even in your past life forms. It may also depend on where you are going or think you are going.

Tao is often translated as “the Way” or “the Path.” It is often seen as most impersonal, transcendent and certainly not caring whether you believe in it or not. It neither thinks nor acts, but just “is.” Its “is-ness” is also the source of every thing and it does not work at creating. Creating is just a part of its being. Because of this definition you do not even have to worry about it because it will not send you to hell (or heaven) and will not judge your character, actions, or sins—quite a relief for many people.

The western religious mind (those who have been raised in conventional Judaism, Christianity and Islam) may find this concept of Tao very uncomfortable and unsatisfying. It negates any conventional image of the stern father God (or a loving father God, for that matter) and any law relating to bad behavior, criminal act, sins of omission or commission, punishment, justice and mercy. There is no court of justice and no jury, but if you are truly wise and loving than none of these things really matter. There is no explicitly implied communication or compulsion (male) between the human and the divine and no source of comfort, solace or compassion (female). Neither is there the nourishing mother’s breast of spiritual succor or the living water to cleanse and refresh.

Then, of what good is Tao? Perhaps it is of no good at all, but if it is of no good, then it is of no bad as well. But that just leaves us in a spiritual vacuum and a very dry desert.

It all goes back to where you are and where you have been. You might just decide to chuck the whole darn thing and go fishing. You might just find Tao right there where you sit whether you like it or not. When all the eloquent words disappear and the pages of every scripture turn to dust and are utterly forgotten forever, there you will find Tao.

But you might also find Tao when staring at the flame of a candle, immersed in personal prayer or meditation, when kissing a lover, or gazing through the lens of a telescope at a distant galaxy. If Tao is too abstract a concept and not personally satisfying, you can, frankly, call it anything you like. It can be called: the Great One, the Great Integrity, Ultimate Reality (Frankl), Ultimate Concern, Ground of Being (Tillich), Yahweh (Hebrew), the Eternal Thou (Buber), Truth, Ein Sof (Kabbalah), Brahma (Hindu), the Eternal Now, the Absolute, Allah (Islam), Nature, or even God. Perhaps you can just NOT call it anything at all and leave the space in the sentence absolutely blank, which is probably the best solution.

But, most people like names and descriptions (at least those raised in conventional religious homes) even though it is anathema to the concept of Tao. The analytical part of our brains always needs a name or label to identify “things”. Even in the Book of Genesis, God tells Adam to “name the animals.” But remember, the Tao does not care and anathema (abomination) does not even exist in the Tao vocabulary. In fact, the very first verse of the Tao Te Ching says that if you can name Tao or describe Tao you really don’t know what you are talking about. It establishes a truth right there at the very start!

As a true westerner, brought up on the precepts of Judeo-Christian religion, I have a personal weakness for the analytical and the descriptive. I like names because they help me to relate to others and provide a sense of connection. The words, prayers, lamentations, conviction, poetry and human narrative in the Bible provide a source of continuity with humans of old. It tells me that they were not so different than I am in my own struggles. These scriptures are also reassuring and healing especially when I deal with a person who is suffering or preparing to die. That is why this type of personal spirituality helps to connect and unite all people in the human family.

So, I need to look at Tao and give it a meaning (a name) for myself and for my own existence at this time and place. Therefore, I call it the ETERNAL SOURCE.

Well, how do we know what this ETERNAL SOURCE is all about? How do we know how it operates, moves, acts, loves, cares, provides justice or mercy? We don’t! We can’t! That is a foundational precept of the ETERNAL SOURCE. And, once again, we can stop right there and go fishing, and perhaps that’s the best place to be. But I’m still not satisfied sitting in that boat in my ignorance. I don’t find bliss in my lack of knowledge of how this ETERNAL SOURCE just “is”. I am grateful that for some unknown reason I “am” and I have been given this marvelous creation—called the brain—that enables me to conceptualize and appreciate nature and the universe.

The more I know how nature works the more I know of this magnificent creation, which has been brought into existence by the ETERNAL SOURCE. The method or process that gives me the knowledge of creation is science. The goal of science is always to discover the truth about creation in all its infinitude. Even in its contradictions and paradoxes.

So, the ETERNAL SOURCE enables, allows and even encourages me to accept science and find the truth wherever it may be hiding. The ETERNAL SOURCE has also encouraged me to leave the comfort and safety of the womb (the proverbial Garden of Eden) take a bite of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and get out of the house, fig leaf and all. When I get far enough from the picket fence and gate of my childhood home, I have to wander in the dark streets by myself, be beaten up by bullies, eat out of dumpsters and find my way to the bus station. If I’m lucky enough to get on the right bus, it takes me to my next destination. When the driver throws me out of the bus because I’ve been a loudmouthed nuisance, I’m in a new town, with new bullies, new dumpsters and a new bus station. Once again, I get on the bus and it all happens over again. Damn thing that bus, that Tao!

At some time in the very distant future,—when black holes rule—after I’ve traveled on the bus for 333 trillion years, I begin to have some inkling of the truth at which point the bus driver throws me out because I’m taking up too much space and just sitting and staring out the window.

I get off the bus, find a nice dumpster to sleep in and make friends with the bullies. There, under some new set of alien stars that have yet to be born, I take a nap. Upon awakening, I look at my new home—the dumpster—and see that it is dirty, rusty and full of mice. But, it is home even if it lets all the rain in and I am content because I know that this is really, really reality. It is only then that I find an old chewed up pencil (darn mice), a few scraps of paper and begin to write my own interpretation of the Tao Te Ching.

If you like what I’ve written, share this little book with others; if not just stick it under the leg of a table to keep it from wobbling.

Relationships and Singularities

Relationships are dependent on the evolution and development of singularities, and every relationship is based on the action of at least two singularities. This is a natural law that runs the gamut from the smallest sub-atomic particle through the most complex life form in the universe. A single electron (-) or proton (+) does not do much on its own, but when these opposing singularities get together in relationship, they form the basic and most fundamental substance in the universe—hydrogen. An enormous number of hydrogen atoms in relationship with other hydrogen atoms establish a condition whereby they fuse to form helium and in the process tremendous energy is created. This fundamental process of the universe continues as heavier elements are created by the fusing of even heavier elements on up through the elemental scale.

As these new elements interact in relationship to each other, there is the inevitable creation of what we call biological life. Many giant relational structures, called molecules, build more complex structures which are cells. The cells build organs, the organs build systems and the systems all work to build a single biological singularity which we perceive as an individual animal or plant. It may be a simple single cell protozoan or a trillion cell human being. The process of “life” encourages these individual singularities to self-replicate so that they may create new relationships. This relational process enables plants and animals to evolve in endless variations, continually perfecting themselves and transforming themselves to meet new challenges and demands that are placed upon them by their environment. New species are created and old species are modified or die out. Each biological singularity is a soul that is created through the being of the ETERNAL SOURCE.

The natural evolutionary process is fraught with interminable transmutations and metamorphoses which we perceive to be errors or mistakes, but are in reality processes that foster evolution of species. Frequently these “errors in metamorphosis” produce disease and disorder. Higher life forms experience these errors with great existential anxiety and physical pain. Lower life forms usually just experience the pain. Even lower life forms simply go with the flow and evolve or die out as a species.

On our planet, human beings are the highest life form; at least that is what we perceive ourselves to be. An individual human being (a singularity, a person) cannot do much to change the course of the universe. It cannot even reproduce itself, but in relationship with just one other singularity, it can recreate an entire species for eons to come. This is one of the first messages given in the Bible and a precept of eastern religion that the two complementary singularities, female (yin) and male (yang), come together to replicate themselves. The process continues and evolves whereby singularities create families; families create communities; communities create nations; and nations create humankind.

It is truly amazing to comprehend all of this relational activity among these singularities, from the smallest sub-atomic particles to the most complex life forms. Most of us don’t fully appreciate this wonderful process of creation and re-creation that has been going on for billions of years in our current universe. Perhaps it is going on in a multitude of other parallel universes for an infinite amount of time. Perhaps our own universe is nothing more than a sub-atomic singularity in another universe.


The picture of a paternal God (the potter) or even the “thinker” planning and intelligently designing the universe just doesn’t make any logical sense. The ETERNAL SOURCE is not the equivalent of a watch maker or a baker who creates from the outside, delivers the goods and then walks away. The ETERNAL SOURCE continually creates and destroys; emanating and bringing back into itself, because that is its very nature. Because the ETERNAL SOURCE is both transcendent (beyond any knowledge or comprehension of its being) and immanent (pervades and influences all creation) it remains the darkest of mysteries and deepest of voids, but is still closer and more intimate than our own breath.

A belief of this sort is panentheistic, which posits that the ETERNAL SOURCE exists and interpenetrates every part of nature (the universe) and timelessly extends beyond as well into other parallel universes (the multiverse, as many physicists theorize) and on into infinity. Panentheism is distinguished from pantheism, which holds that God or the ETERNAL SOURCE is synonymous with the material universe.
In panentheism, the ETERNAL SOURCE is not viewed as simply the creator but the eternal animating force behind the universe, with the universe as nothing more than the manifest part of the ETERNAL SOURCE. The universe exists within the ETERNAL SOURCE, which in turn "pervades" or is "in" the universe. While pantheism asserts that God and the universe are coextensive, panentheism claims that the ETERNAL SOURCE is greater than the universe and that the universe is contained within the ETERNAL SOURCE. Panentheism holds that the ETERNAL SOURCE is the "supreme affect and effect" of the universe.

Emanation and Entropy
Entropy, historically, has often been associated with the amount of order, disorder, and/or chaos in a system. The traditional definition of entropy is that it refers to changes in the status quo of the system and is a measure of "molecular disorder" and the amount of wasted energy in a dynamical energy transformation from one state or form to another.
In a universe consisting of "surroundings" and "systems" and made up of quantities of matter and energy, its differences, density, and temperatures all tend to equalize over time. In the example of ice melting, the difference in temperature between a warm room (the surroundings) and cold glass of ice and water (the system and not part of the room), begins to be equalized as portions of the heat energy from the warm surroundings spread out to the cooler system of ice and water.
The concept of entropy has also entered the domain of philosophy, theology and sociology, generally as a metaphor for chaos, disorder and dissipation of energy, rather than as a direct measure of thermodynamics.
Simply put, entropy is a term to describe the continual wearing down of the universe into its basic component parts or singularities. It is the reverse of evolution and emanation. It is the process of going from the complex to the simple. It is the breakdown of relationships into singularities. It is a force of the ETERNAL SOURCE that is in equilibrium with emanation.
Emanation means "to flow from." It is the mode by which all things are derived from the ETERNAL SOURCE. Emanationism is a transcendent principle from which everything is derived. It is opposed to both Creationism (wherein the universe is created by a god who is separate from creation) and evolutionism (which posits no underlying subjective and/or ontological nature behind phenomena, being immanent).
Although the universe will eventually come to an end and dissipate into nothingness, according to modern physics, this destructive tendency (entropy) will be balanced by the emanation of the ETERNAL SOURCE into the creation of a new universe.
These natural tendencies—entropy and emanation—are essential for understanding why things breakdown, ice becomes water, iron rusts, molecules become chaotic, cells become dysfunctional and diseased, and people get sick and die.
What was once alive and composed of many complex systems now breaks down into component parts and then further into singularities. It dies. While the process of a human being dying and experiencing death may be a relatively short event experienced in days, the ultimate breakdown of all singularities within that person (molecules, atoms and sub-atomic particles) may take trillions upon trillions of years.
So, here I am sitting at my computer, an emanation of the ETERNAL SOURCE, a person, a soul, a singularity composed of innumerable singularities, in relationship with other souls, other persons, and ultimately an essential part of the universe. I am alive at all times, and dying at all times. The ETERNAL SOURCE presents a balance of emanation and entropy. It is all in equilibrium and balance. Darkness is balanced with light. The abyss is continually filled. The hopeless find hope and the apparent dissolution of the human race is balanced with eternal grace and peace.

Yin and Yang
As all things evolve they also devolve. As things go up they also go down. Out of the darkness comes the most brilliant light. That which is empty and void is filled. For every head of a coin there is a tail. For every negative singularity there is a positive singularity. For every Yin there is a Yang. The only way that we may appreciate beauty is through our understanding of that which is not beautiful. This is a law of the ETERNAL SOURCE and we must put to rest our dualistic and judgmental mind set.
The concept of yin and yang is used to describe how seemingly opposing forces are bound together, intertwined, and interdependent in the natural world, giving rise to each other in turn.
Dualism can mean the tendency of humans to perceive and understand the universe as being divided into two basic categories. This is most common in the western concept of dualism. It is dualistic, therefore, when one perceives a person as a thing separate from everything surrounding it, or when one perceives a "self" that is distinct from the rest of the world. In mystic traditions of both the east and the west, a key to enlightenment, Nirvana (Buddhism), or salvation (Christianity) is transcending and overcoming this sort of dualistic thinking. As all things—including all souls—are in relationship there really is no division or separation into that which is or that which is not.
The universe's two basic principles of yin and yang are a major component in the understanding and appreciation of the Tao Te Ching. Some of the common associations with Yang and Yin, respectively, are: male and female, light and dark, active and passive, motion and stillness.
The Tao Te Ching represents a field of philosophy where two opposites co-exist in harmony and are able to transmute into each other thereby destroying the duality.
This complementary dualistic concept in the Tao Te Ching represents the reciprocal interaction throughout nature, similar to a feedback loop, where opposing forces do not exchange in opposition but instead exchange reciprocally to promote balance and stabilization. A basic principle of the Tao Te Ching and of the ETERNAL SOURCE is that within every independent entity (or singularity) lies a part of its opposite. Within sickness lies health. In darkness there is light. This precept reveals that all opposites are manifestations of the single ETERNAL SOURCE, and are therefore not independent from one another; they are in relationship. They are simply variations of the same unifying force throughout the universe.

Everything in the universe of space, time, matter and energy (the woven fabric, the garment) is revealed to us for appreciation and understanding through the method of science. Science will enable us to eventually comprehend that this woven fabric is essentially only one super-manifestation composed of a single substance—the prime emanation of the ETERNAL SOURCE. While the ETERNAL SOURCE remains ineffable, transcendent and immanent, the universe continues to reveal itself through scientific inquiry. This inquiry, while very limited and imperfect in our state of evolution, always points to truth.
Progress will continue as long as human beings have the capacity to think and act and the ETERNAL SOURCE has provided (through its “being” and not its action) humankind’s ultimate tendency to evolve intellectually and spiritually. As the ETERNAL SOURCE draws us back into itself it enables us to become more like itself. Counter to human evolution is our entropic tendency to destroy ourselves through war and planetary degradation. This condition, unfortunately, may lead to the extinction of humankind and its inability to reach its potential.
All of the laws of nature provide humankind with a focus and vision of an inevitable cosmic order which has its origin in the ETERNAL SOURCE. A surrendering and submission to this source—“going with the flow”, “centering within”—enables us to live with a sense of true creative peace (Shalom).

The Person
The sage, master, prophet, saint, the enlightened one, the complete human being is simply called The Person. The Person understands and appreciates his/her impermanence and unrelenting move to both dissolution/nothingness and complete union with the ETERNAL SOURCE. The Person knows that at the same time that she is becoming a complete void, she is also becoming filled. As unattractive or broken as she may perceive herself to be, she is also being perfected and becoming more whole and beautiful. As diseased as her body may be, she is also moving toward health, wellness, and wholeness. Once again, the duality that is experienced as suffering, disease and despair is in reality an illusion.
We must be careful to realize, however, that our suffering and pain is very real in the moment (the Now) and that death is reality. Our peace will come, however, when we fully accept that everything we cling to—our bodies, our relationships, our beliefs, our material creations, every thing!—will eventually vanish into utter oblivion and nothingness. As long as we cling to these things we will continue to suffer. This is a key precept of Buddhism that is a very difficult to accept.
The Person understands this inevitability and consequently does not cling to or possess any thing, any concept or any person. He holds his children with open arms, sees the folly in his own opinions, and creates things knowing that his art is merely dust and evaporating dew. His creations are imperfect, fleeting and changing even as they are being molded in his hands. The belief in the permanence of anything is strictly foolishness.
The Person manifests, reveals, and reflects the ETERNAL SOURCE not only in his creations, in his relationships with the world, and in his dialogue with other persons, but also in the way he acts and the way he is in his being. Because the Person is in harmony, centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE, she does not act with her own action or force. She takes full advantage of the natural energy of the ETERNAL SOURCE and simply follows it in the appropriate direction. This is the essence of the surfer who seeks the waves and simply rides them to get to shore. The process and the ride are certainly more important than simply getting to the beach, however, and much more gratifying.
This “surfing” metaphor is the paradoxical concept of wu-wei or non-action. While the Person may be perceived to be “doing nothing”—merely standing still on a surfboard, in reality she is acting, producing and doing extraordinary things simply because she is taking full advantage of the power of the ETERNAL SOURCE. The ETERNAL SOURCE provides her with vision, direction, strength and balance in order for her to accomplish her mission, which is to fully enjoy the ride to the beach.
The Islamic poet, philosopher and mystic, Rumi, taught that we long to be reunited with our primal root. This is the concept of tawhid. The Person—or Insan-e Kamil (perfect or completed human being) strives to restore this relationship. In Rumi’s journey, the seeker turns toward the truth, grows in love, and abandons the ego. There he finds the truth and becomes the completed Person. The Person is not bound by the cultural limitations of separate nations or religious beliefs. Because of this he finds peace and harmony with all people.
When Jesus the Christ (the epitome of The Person) told his disciples to “move mountains”, metaphorically speaking, he was not telling them to use their own stength and abilities to overcome monumental obstacles. He was telling them to use the power that is available to them from God, the ETERNAL SOURCE.
The concepts and precepts presented here are neither eastern nor western but are evident in all authentic, living religion and spirituality. They are the “golden threads” that run through all the great religions and many lesser known spiritual systems. They are both primitive and highly developed; the essence of ancient wisdom and modern civilization.
Because of this sublime wisdom and knowledge, the Person is filled with passion of the heart and is enthusiastic, i.e., God filled. He is able to move mountains not through his own power but through the power of the ETERNAL SOURCE—His path, His light, and His way.
The Person who is ultimately concerned about his relationship with the ETERNAL SOURCE and the possibility of reunion and centering within that source has already been grasped by the ETERNAL SOURCE. This is a fundamental concept of the great Protestant theologian, Paul Tillich. This is simple grace available to all. There is no need to ask any further questions or do anything: no words, no actions, no worship, no sacrifice. Anything additional would only distort reality.
The Person who is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE simply lives the truth, reveals the truth and is the truth.

I have often said that a person who wishes to begin a good life should be like a man who draws a circle. Let him get the center in the right place and keep it so and the circumference will be good. In other words, let a man first learn to fix his heart on God.
Meister Johannes Eckhart, 1260-1327

1—The Source that can be described

The source that can be described is not the ETERNAL SOURCE. The name that can be named is not the Eternal Name. Darkness and light, mystery and manifestation arise from the same Source. The Source is transcendent and immanent. The Source is the gateway to all understanding. The ETERNAL SOURCE is the Ultimate Reality.


Beauty and ugliness define each other. Being and non-being create each other. The Person acts without seeming to act, teaches without seeming to teach, speaks without seeming to say a word.

Many things come into being, but the Person simply lets them come. They disappear and she lets them go. When she has completed her work she sets it free and it lasts for eternity.

3—The Person leads by emptying

The Person leads by emptying the mind of useless thoughts and filling the heart with the ETERNAL SOURCE. He helps people to lose everything they know, all they value, and everything they desire. His emptiness creates a place for all things to come together.

4—The ETERNAL SOURCE is a well

The ETERNAL SOURCE is a well that is never dry because it is eternally void and filled with infinite possibilities. It is hidden in the darkness, but always present.

5—The ETERNAL SOURCE is empty

The ETERNAL SOURCE gives birth to both good and evil, but knows neither. The Person accepts all, both saints and sinners. The ETERNAL SOURCE is a bellows that is empty but has infinite capacity to fill. Seek the ETERNAL SOURCE within.

6—The ETERNAL SOURCE is the ultimate reality

The ETERNAL SOURCE is the ultimate reality. It is a mother who is empty yet inexhaustible and gives birth to infinite possibilities. She is always present within you, closer than your breath, and always available.

7—The ETERNAL SOURCE is infinite

The ETERNAL SOURCE is infinite and everlasting. It is no thing. It has no desires for itself, but presents all things, for all beings.

The Person remains alone in the dark, but is a shining light. She clings to no thing, but is One with all things. Because she is empty she is perfectly filled.

8—The ETERNAL SOURCE is like water

The ETERNAL SOURCE is like water that cleanses all things. It settles in the lowest of places and nourishes every thing it touches. Live simply. Think simply. Be fair and generous. Do not try to control. Enjoy your work. Be present in the here and now.

9—A filled bowl

A filled bowl will spill over. A sharpened knife will become blunt. Clinging to riches and security will only bring sorrow and loss. People will always disappoint. Do your work simply and reflect on the ETERNAL SOURCE—the only path to true wealth and peace.

10—Allow your mind to focus on the ETERNAL SOURCE

Allow your mind to focus on the ETERNAL SOURCE. Enable your body to be flexible and supple as a new born child. Erase the distortions from your vision until you see the light of the ETERNAL SOURCE. Lead with love, without imposing your will. Face the events of the world with a broad vision.

The ETERNAL SOURCE gives birth to all things and nourishes all things without possessing. It acts without expectation. It leads without control and manifests an ultimate supreme virtue.

11—The spokes of the wheel

The spokes of the wheel are joined at the hub, which is where its strength originates. The clay pot receives its usefulness through its emptiness and is full of opportunity.

The house of true value is truly empty; its value lies in its inner space. We work with things that seem to be, but know that what is of lasting value is no thing.

12—Many colors and many lights

Many colors and many lights combine to blind the eyes. Many sounds confuse and confound the ears. Many flavors numb the tongue. Many thoughts disturb the mind. Many desires sadden the heart and create sorrow.

The Person simply observes creation and trusts his inner vision. He is grasped by the ETERNAL SOURCE and simply rests in its grace.

13—Success, failure, hope, fear

Success, failure, hope, fear—they can all be dangerous and deceptive states of mind, like going up and down on a shaky ladder. Only when you are firmly grounded on the ETERNAL SOURCE will you maintain your balance. Hope and fear are as fleeting as phantoms and arise from too much thinking of the self.

The Person forgets herself and does not fear or hope. The Person knows that she is part of creation and loves creation and is able to care for creation because she receives ALL from the ETERNAL SOURCE.

14—We deceive ourselves

We deceive ourselves. When we look we do not really see. When we listen we do not really hear. When we reach we do not grasp. Is brightness really above and darkness below? The ETERNAL SOURCE is seamless and unnamable. It is always in the realm of no thing. Its form includes all forms but it is without form or image. It is beyond conception. It has no beginning and no end. You cannot know it, but it is your ETERNAL SOURCE, your Ultimate Reality, your wisdom. It speaks to your heart.

15—Many ancient Persons were wise

Many ancient Persons were wise and profound. Their wisdom could not be contained in words—it was simply described by their being and doing. They traveled the world as if walking over thin ice and they left no cracks. They were alert as warriors in an enemy land; amiable as visitors to a foreign nation; fluid as mist over a meadow; malleable as clay; clear as crystal; and receptive as a valley to the falling rain. Do you have their patience to be still until the silt settles in the river of your mind and until the right time comes for proper action?

The Person waits and does not seek to be filled by the world. And in not seeking and not expecting, he is present in the NOW and welcomes all things from the ETERNAL SOURCE.

16—Clear your mind and make it an empty vessel

Clear your mind and make it an empty vessel. Your heart will be at peace. The things of the world will come and they will go and then they will return again. All beings have their beginning in the ETERNAL SOURCE and all beings find their peace there as well. When you do not acknowledge your ETERNAL SOURCE you walk in the darkness of ignorance, sorrow and despair. But when you are immersed in the nourishing water of the ETERNAL SOURCE you are a child again: supple, tolerant, amused, and open. Whatever life presents, you are ready. Whenever death comes, you are ready.

17—The Person leads

The Person leads, but the people are hardly aware of her leadership. She is virtually invisible but her being speaks louder than words. A good leader is loved. A strong leader is feared. A poor leader is despised. The Person leads with trust and she is trusted. She makes the untrustworthy believe in her. The Person does not speak much, but simply acts. When her work is completed her followers think that they have achieved great miracles.

18—When the ETERNAL SOURCE is forgotten

When the ETERNAL SOURCE is forgotten, the people must create laws, rules and regulations to provide guidance. When people lose the guidance of the ETERNAL SOURCE, they create their own sources of knowledge and cleverness. When the ETERNAL SOURCE is no longer in their hearts, peace leaves the family and the community is divided. The world falls into chaos.

19—When worldly wisdom is put aside

When the wisdom and self-righteousness of the world is put aside, the people will be much happier and their vision will lead them to the ETERNAL SOURCE. When the burden of the law is lifted they will return to the everlasting grace of the ETERNAL SOURCE. When they no longer worship material things and their own achievements, they will be free of robbers and thieves. The Person knows these evils and remains centered on the ETERNAL SOURCE.

20—The mind is a constant source of despair

The mind is a constant source of problems and despair. Sometimes there is really no difference between yes and no, dark and light, up and down. What is despaired of as failure may actually be success. What the world values highly is often merely dust and fog. The world gets excited about small things of no lasting value. The parade passes by and the bright lights and music are gone. The people disappear and search for new amusements, but the Person simply remains at the center contemplating the ETERNAL SOURCE.

The world possesses many things but the Person possesses no thing and keeps her mind empty so that it may be filled by the ETERNAL SOURCE. The world thinks she is a fool. The world believes that it has purpose and direction, but the Person knows that her purpose is simply being a wave in the vast ocean of the universe; and a mere gust of wind in the endless desert. She receives sustenance from her mother—the ETERNAL SOURCE.

21—The Person keeps her mind focused

The Person keeps her mind focused upon the ETERNAL SOURCE and that is why she remains a beacon of light to the world. The ETERNAL SOURCE cannot be comprehended, so how can her mind be at one with it? She is at one with the ETERNAL SOURCE because she empties herself of false concepts, human perceptions, dogmas, and rules. Her emptiness enables the ETERNAL SOURCE to fill her completely.

The ETERNAL SOURCE is transcendent, unfathomable, unmoving, so how can she be a radiant, shining being? She is radiant because her emptiness is filled with the light of the ETERNAL SOURCE. The ETERNAL SOURCE was before time and space, before the creation of the universe. It is beyond what is and what is not. It is no thing. So, how does the Person know this? She simply looks within herself.

22—The Person is whole

The Person is whole because he knows that he is broken. He wants to be straight and so allows the ETERNAL SOURCE to straighten his crookedness. He wants to be full and so he empties himself of everything. He wants to be reborn, so he allows himself to die. He gives up everything so that he may receive everything. The Person allows himself to be grasped by the ETERNAL SOURCE and establishes a model of all human beings to follow. Because he is empty and transparent the world does not see him, but it sees his light. Because he is fully open and simple, people trust him. Because he is like a shining mirror in the sun, people may recognize their true selves in him. Because he is without direction, he goes everywhere. The ancient Persons were correct when they told the world to be broken in order to be whole.

23—Simple, direct expression

Simple, direct expression will bring understanding and peace. Once that is done it is best to be quiet. Follow the basic forces of nature as created by the ETERNAL SOURCE—let the wind and rain come and go. When the clouds pass, the sun’s rays will shine and warm the earth.

When the Person opens herself to the ETERNAL SOURCE she becomes one with the ETERNAL SOURCE and receives its insight. She then begins to trust in the timeless ways of the ETERNAL SOURCE.

24—The fool who stands on tiptoes

The fool who stands on tiptoes does not stand firm. The fool who rushes ahead with eyes closed does not go far. He who tries to shine with his own light only presents his darkness to the world. He who defines and labels himself does not know who he is. He who controls others has no control over himself. He cannot empower because he has no power. The fool who clings to his own creations will soon discover that nothing endures and all turns to dust.

The Person simply does his work through the power and guidance of the ETERNAL SOURCE and then releases it into the air as a free bird.

25—Before there was anything

Before there was anything; before the universe was conceived there was the formless, perfect and infinite ETERNAL SOURCE. It is No Thing. It does not act. It is empty and perfectly serene in its solitary and changeless perfection, transcendent and immanent. The ETERNAL SOURCE is now and ever-present, the creator of the universe. It flows into all things, but does not move. It is the beginning and end of all things, but knows no time. The ETERNAL SOURCE is beyond greatness, beyond conception, beyond perception. It is the source of the universe, which is the source of the earth, which is the source of life and humankind. The Person acknowledges these great truths. The Person follows the earth, which follows the universe, which follows the ETERNAL SOURCE, which only knows itself.

26—Gravity is the source of all lightness

Gravity is the source of all lightness just as inertia is the source of all movement. The Person travels the world, but does not leave her true home. She is at peace in herself because she is filled with the ETERNAL SOURCE. She is connected to her true root and is not blown about in the wind. She is serene and does not let herself lose touch with her true nature.

27—The Person travels well

The Person travels well and is guided by the ETERNAL SOURCE. He has no fixed direction and neither leaves nor arrives because he is already there. He is an artist lead by his deep intuition. He is a student free of misleading perceptions and judgments. His mind is open and always ready to be filled by the ETERNAL SOURCE. The Person is open to all people and does not reject or judge. He is a source of wisdom, guidance, and hope. He leads with the light of the ETERNAL SOURCE and embodies it. He is the personification of the ETERNAL SOURCE.

A good person is a bad person’s teacher and a bad person will always be a good person’s trial. Try to understand this secret.

28—The Person knows the masculine and feminine

The Person knows the masculine in order to be the feminine. She takes the entire world into her heart and knows that the ETERNAL SOURCE will never leave her. She is a child forever loved and safe. The Person knows the white in order to be the black. She establishes a standard for the world to follow because the ETERNAL SOURCE is her internal power. There is nothing she cannot do. The Person knows the personal in order to be the impersonal. She accepts the world as it is, good and bad. The ETERNAL SOURCE is her light and guide and she always returns to her inner vision. The Person knows that the universe was formed from no-thingness and will return to the no-thingness of the ETERNAL SOURCE.

29—The Person knows that he cannot change the world

The Person knows that he cannot change the world, but also knows that the world is a sacred vessel created by the ETERNAL SOURCE. Only the ETERNAL SOURCE can improve upon it. The more that people impose their own wills upon the natural world the more they destroy it. Therefore, the Person knows that there is a time to lead and a time to follow, a time to be weak and a time to be strong, a time to create and a time to destroy. He simply experiences the world as it is without trying to control it and remains within the center of the ETERNAL SOURCE.

30—Being within the center of the ETERNAL SOURCE

If you are within the center of the ETERNAL SOURCE you are a natural leader of people. There is no need to force them. The Person does not use violence because he knows that violence will only return to itself and produce more violence. The Person acts and then reflects. She contemplates the created order and knows that it will be forever out of her control. She is satisfied with simply being within the center of the ETERNAL SOURCE. She is content because she has no need to convince others of her ways. Neither does she need their approval. She accepts herself because she is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE.

31—Weapons are instruments of violence

Weapons are instruments of violence and destruction. The Person turns away from them and refuses to use them in anger. He knows that they are tools of fear and avoids their use at almost any cost. When he does pick up a weapon it is only for defense and only with great restraint. The Person values true peace above all conditions because it reflects the nature of the ETERNAL SOURCE. He knows his enemies, but he knows that they are just like him—frail, fragile, human beings who are more like the dust in the wind. They may do evil, but they are not demons themselves and he wishes them no harm. The Person does not rejoice in his victory or in the demise of his enemies. He enters the battle with a sad heart and with compassion. It was as if he were attending his own burial rite.

32—The ETERNAL SOURCE cannot be perceived

The ETERNAL SOURCE cannot be perceived. Its contemplation is beyond all possible thought. It is far beyond the world’s wisdom. However, it is closer and more intimate than one’s breath. When the world is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE there is peace, grace, and harmony. The people tear up their books of law and rewrite the truth on their hearts. The old institutions vanish as the fog on a new bright morning. All things flow with the ETERNAL SOURCE into the ETERNAL SOURCE as all rivers flow into the sea.

33—The Person understands the world

The Person understands the world, but her true wisdom comes from knowing that she is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE. Her power comes not from the action of others, but from her being within the ETERNAL SOURCE. She realizes that she has enough of the things of the world and is truly rich beyond all measure. She remains centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE and though she will die she knows that she has eternal life.

34—The ETERNAL SOURCE flows and fills

The ETERNAL SOURCE flows and fills every space in the universe and beyond, but it does not move. It does not act. It does not create anything yet it is the source of everything. It is infinite, transcendent, yet it nourishes everything it touches, but does not hold tight to anything. It merges with space and time and yet it is not part of the fabric. When all things vanish into the void—as they surely will—the ETERNAL SOURCE will endure.

35—The Person travels without fear

The Person who is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE travels without fear or danger because she knows the true origin of her strength, knowledge, and being. She contemplates a universal grace although she acts within a world that is filled with pain and suffering. Nonetheless, she has peace in her heart.

The sounds and smells of the world are exciting and enticing. They amuse and fill the body. But the ETERNAL SOURCE cannot be contemplated and so it is invisible, too subtle to be appreciated, too dark, too quiet, without action or movement. Not dead or alive. It just IS. But then again it is no thing.

36—The ETERNAL SOURCE is a breath

The ETERNAL SOURCE is a breath that comes into the body and leaves it. It causes things to shrink, but first allows them to expand. It destroys all things, but first allows them to grow and flourish. It gives to all things so that it may take away from all things. This is the subtle way in which the ETERNAL SOURCE expresses its being. Just as soft things may be stronger than hard things and slow things quicker than fast things, the ETERNAL SOURCE is a paradox.

37—The ETERNAL SOURCE does not act

The ETERNAL SOURCE does not act, it does not move, it creates nothing, yet it begets the universe and all things in it. If people would center themselves within the ETERNAL SOURCE they could transform the world and heal the damage they have done to the earth. They could live simply, in peace and free from greed and material desire.

38—The Person does not control

The Person does not attempt to control and, therefore, he manifests true power. The fool continues to grasp for control and domination and is never satisfied. He is left powerless. The Person does not act, but through his inaction he enables all things to be accomplished. His being simply manifests the ETERNAL SOURCE and through him he transforms the world and heals.

The fool is always busy and the more he does through his own force and control the more he must continue to do. His own power cannot transform or heal. No matter how gentle, just or moral you may be there are still so many things left undone and many wounds to bind. When the world does not respond we may simply lash out and use force because of our own frustration and disappointment.

When the world forgets the ETERNAL SOURCE people try, through their own feeble efforts, to be good and then they create laws and creeds of morality. When they do not conform to their own morality they create endless regulations and rituals to assuage their guilt and force people to be “good”. When ritual takes the place of true centering in the ETERNAL SOURCE the world falls into the abyss of chaos. Therefore, the Person focuses his concerns upon centering within the ETERNAL SOURCE—the ultimate reality where there are no illusions.

39—Harmony and peace

When the world is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE there is harmony and peace. The air is clean, the sky is clear, and the land is solid and productive. All living things flourish, grow, and die according to the natural order and are continually renewed and evolving. When the world forgets the ETERNAL SOURCE and worships its illusions the air and sky become filthy and the earth dead and barren. All living things begin to die.

The Person has compassion for a dying world because she is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE. She understands all the minute parts of the universe because she knows that she is part of the whole. Because she is centered in the ETERNAL SOURCE she is humble. Her humbleness makes her strong and rough as stone though she shines like a jewel inside.

40—The Person yields

The Person yields to the being of the ETERNAL SOURCE and knows that all things are born of its reality.

41—The Person reveals the being of the ETERNAL SOURCE

When a Person is centered in the ETERNAL SOURCE he immediately begins to reveal its being. When a person learns of the ETERNAL SOURCE his first reaction is skepticism. When a person hears of the ETERNAL SOURCE for the first time he is simply dumbfounded and puzzled by all the ambiguities and paradox.

The ancient Persons were centered in the ETERNAL SOURCE. They knew that the way into the light was full of darkness; the way forward often turned back on itself; true power was found in meekness; permanence was always transient; clarity of vision was often obscured by the truth; the greatest of wisdom was found in the empty mind; and the ETERNAL SOURCE was nowhere to be found.

42—The ETERNAL SOURCE begets the universe

The ETERNAL SOURCE begets the universe which gives birth to heaven, earth and all living things. Every thing in existence contains within it the masculine and the feminine, the positive and the negative, and when they are blended together they form harmony and balance. Most people hate and fear aloneness, but the Person uses it to contemplate and embrace the ETERNAL SOURCE.

43—The gentlest and meekest things overcome the unyielding

The gentlest and meekest things in the world overcome the most obstinate and unyielding, just as a breeze may break an old and brittle branch. The ETERNAL SOURCE has no substance and does not act, but is able to penetrate all space with its being.

The Person teaches the world without words, without actions, but by simply being within the center of the ETERNAL SOURCE.

44—The value of things

The Person asks: which has more value, health or wealth, material things or spiritual well-being, success or failure? The Person never looks to the world for her fulfillment. She never values what the world values. She only finds completion when she is centered in the ETERNAL SOURCE. She is content with what she has and what she is and accepts the way things come and go. She is a reflection of the ETERNAL SOURCE and lacks nothing.

45—Perfection and fullness are illusions

Perfection and fullness are illusions of the world. The ETERNAL SOURCE is a void, beyond perfection; it is no thing and empty. The world’s wisdom is foolishness. The ETERNAL SOURCE is beyond wisdom and comprehension, dark and unmoving. The Person simply accepts this without question and the ETERNAL SOURCE speaks for itself in utter silence.

46—The world that is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE

In a world that is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE, the people are productive and wisely use the resources of the earth. When the ETERNAL SOURCE is forgotten, the people hoard things, create excessive waste, make weapons, and plan for war. When the ETERNAL SOURCE is forgotten, the world is immersed in the illusion of fear and prepares to defend itself from all its enemies whether real or imagined. The Person does not fear because he is without illusions and is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE.

47—The Person does not need to travel far

The Person does not need to travel or go far and wide to reveal the truth of the ETERNAL SOURCE. Her simple actions and being are a reflection of its essence. The more one strives for worldly knowledge the less one truly knows of the ETERNAL SOURCE.

The Person is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE and has arrived at her destination. She completes her work by simply being, without acting, without doing a thing.

48—The world increases its knowledge

The world increases its knowledge each day through the accumulation of information, facts and data. The wisdom of the ETERNAL SOURCE is found in its emptiness, its stillness, and darkness. The Person does not make things happen, there is no force, no domination. He achieves all things through non-action and simply being. As a result, nothing remains to be done. His mastery comes by non-interfering and by letting things in their own nature occur.

49—The Person keeps her mind open

The Person keeps her own mind open and receptive, still and empty. She allows the hearts and minds of others to enter and leave and simply accepts them as friendly guests. She accepts all who enter home whether they are good or evil. Her true goodness is from the ETERNAL SOURCE and it cleanses all that it touches like flowing water. Her trust is like sunshine that warms both the bright meadows and darkest forests.

The Person is an empty void. She is silent and still and that is why the world does not understand her. People wait for her to act, but she simply smiles at them as if they were her own children.

50—The Person releases himself

The Person releases himself from the cares of the day. He knows that death awaits all of creation and that there really is nothing to cling to: no illusions, no earthly wisdom, no riches, no body, no mind. He does not think about acting or doing but simply remains centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE for that is the foundation of his true wisdom. Because nothing is restrained from his life he is always ready for his death and does not fear what lies ahead. No matter where he is on his road he is ready to work or to sleep.

51—All of creation is an expression

All of creation is an expression, a reflection, of the ETERNAL SOURCE. Each living being is a unique emanation that comes into existence at just the right time and assumes substance. Each is a spontaneous manifestation of the ETERNAL SOURCE and vanishes just as quickly, like a soap bubble.

The ETERNAL SOURCE brings all things into being and un-being. It births them, nourishes them, cleanses them, protects them, and then takes them all back into itself. It acts upon all creation without possessing and without expectation. Its love is boundless and pure because that is its very nature: to be the ETERNAL SOURCE.

52—The ETERNAL SOURCE has no beginning and no end

The ETERNAL SOURCE has no beginning and has no end. It was, is and has always been. It is being and non-being, a void that is completely filled, the darkest of dark that is unbearably light. You cannot find the ETERNAL SOURCE even if you peeled back all of its manifestations and emanations from the beginning of time. Simply look at the face of the child and you will know its mother.

The world will fill your mind with judgments, prejudice and desires. All this will trouble your heart and blind your spirit. When you are centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE the world’s ways will vanish and you will find true peace. When you are centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE the darkness will show you the light and your meekness will become strength.

53—The ETERNAL SOURCE presents itself to the world

The ETERNAL SOURCE presents itself to the world as a path, an open gate, a shepherd, and a Person. Yet the world craves for other more glamorous instruments and vehicles to find enlightenment. The things that glitter, glow and are full of themselves are always enticing, but always lead to bewilderment, suffering and despair. When evildoers prosper and producers of good suffer you know that the world is not centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE.

When weapons and war are held in higher esteem than healing and cures you know that the world has truly gone astray and must be lead back to the open gate.

54—The Person has her roots deeply planted

The Person has her roots deeply planted within the ETERNAL SOURCE and she knows that she can never be uprooted. She allows the ETERNAL SOURCE to grasp and embrace her and she knows that she will never slip away. When the ETERNAL SOURCE is the focus of your life everything you do is genuine and pure. Those whom you love will flourish; your nation will be a source of light to the world; and all of creation will be at peace. The Person knows that this is true because all she has to do is look within herself.

55—The person who is centered

The person who is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE is a newborn infant whose body is soft and pliable. His muscles are weak but his hands grip strongly. He is full of potential and opportunity. He does not know whether he is male or female, but his innate power is evident and his mother continually meets his needs. The Person is powerful like the newborn child. All things come to him effortlessly and he does not desire or want for anything. He is never disappointed because his expectations are never made known. His spirit always remains strong and full of energy, like the newborn child’s.

56—The world talks much

The world talks much and makes a big noise, but knows very little. The Person knows much but is silent. The ETERNAL SOURCE has no mouth to speak and no eyes to see. It hears nothing and its touch cannot be felt. It does not move and does not act. Yet it is the beginning of all things.

The Person knows that the ETERNAL SOURCE cannot be approached, penetrated or withdrawn from. She cannot harm it, honor it or cause it pain. The ETERNAL SOURCE simply persists in infinity, giving and taking from before and beyond the beginning of time.

57—True leadership

True leadership begins and ends with centering in the ETERNAL SOURCE. The Person does not control with rigid plans and concepts, but enables people to work within a broad framework and vision. He is always conscious of his primary mission. The Person knows that the more he forces and dominates people the less effective and virtuous they will become. The more he prepares to fight the less secure people will be. The more he enables their weaknesses the less reliant they will be for themselves.

The Person puts aside endless codes, rules and regulations and provides a broad vision for people to follow. He removes needless restraints and allows people to be productive and prosperous. He reveals the ETERNAL SOURCE and people are freed from fear, guilt and superstition. He sets an example and standard for all the world to follow and goodness grows like grass.

58—Where there is tolerance and acceptance

Where there is tolerance and acceptance of differences and ambiguity the people are secure and truth flourishes. Repression only fosters grief and despair. When there is domination and subjugation people are depressed and unproductive. Their vices rise to the surface and they seek solace in things and temporal pleasures.

The Person is a light to the world, a shining example of truth and peace. She does not impose her will on the world, but establishes an indelible standard that is straightforward, honest, and honorable.

59—The Person leads through moderation

The Person leads through moderation, tolerance and acceptance and is free from limited fundamental thoughts and intense personal prejudices. His vision is all pervading like the sunlight through the sky. He is pliable and strong like a young tree. While he has strong vision he has no destination because he knows that he has already arrived. He uses whatever comes his way to make life happen and to help people become centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE. He has released himself from all worldly constraints and nothing is impossible for him to accomplish. He cares for the world as a mother nourishes her child.

60—Good Leadership is like frying small fish

Good leadership is like frying a small fish—not much needs to be done. When a nation is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE evil has no place to take hold. It still exists, but the people can easily move away from its influence. When there is no place for evil to secure itself it simply flows away by itself.

61—A great nation is like a great ocean

A great nation is like a great ocean—all rivers and streams run together and then in to it. But a great nation should be humble and serve as a standard and beacon to the world. When a nation in centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE it has no need to be defensive or make constant plans for war.

62—The ETERNAL SOURCE is the center of all creation

The ETERNAL SOURCE is the center of all creation and all things are centered in the ETERNAL SOURCE. The good person knows that his center is within the ETERNAL SOURCE. The evil person may know that his salvation is also there. The ETERNAL SOURCE cannot be secured through fine words or eloquent philosophy. It cannot be won through good deeds or pious talk. Its value is incalculable and cannot ever be achieved. It is, however, simply a gift for all creation.

When a new leader comes on the scene do not impress her with words or expertise. Simply reflect the wisdom of the ETERNAL SOURCE. Why did the ancient Persons center themselves within the ETERNAL SOURCE? Because they always found the truth and the truth allowed them to share the great wisdom of the ETERNAL SOURCE. When they made errors or temporarily followed evil ways they were always forgiven and shown the right way. The ETERNAL SOURCE has always been a foundation of grace, truth and light.

Why did the ancient Persons center themselves within the ETERNAL SOURCE? Because they always found the truth and the truth allowed them to share the great wisdom of the ETERNAL SOURCE. When they made errors or temporarily followed evil ways they were always forgiven and shown the right way. The ETERNAL SOURCE has always been a foundation of grace, truth and light.

63—The Person acts without doing

The Person acts without doing and works with little effort. Through his being he accomplishes much. He multiplies his small efforts into great achievements and turns major calamities into minor problems. He confronts the tragedies of the world while they are still small and reaches out to individuals before they become raging armies.

The Person does not grasp for greatness or riches, but achieves greatness and wealth beyond all the world’s standards. When he finds himself in the darkness of despair he simply stops and contemplates on the ETERNAL SOURCE and his burden is lifted.

64—It is easy to nourish something

It is easy to nourish something that is firmly rooted. It is easy to correct a recent mistake. It is easy to break a brittle branch. It is easy to scatter a small handful of seed.

The Person knows how to deal with small troubles before they become big problems. She knows the order of things before they reveal themselves and deals with the giant oak when it is just an acorn. She steps out of her front door and with one step begins a journey of a thousand miles. She never rushes headlong into action, because that is the surest way to failure. She never forces an activity to completion but allows it to progress through natural ripening.

The Person simply lets things take their natural course, following the guidance of the ETERNAL SOURCE. She remains calm, steady and her vision is the same whether at the beginning of her task or at the end. What she wants is to un-learn the world’s wisdom and simply reveal the truth of the ETERNAL SOURCE. In her being she reveals nothing but the ETERNAL SOURCE and in doing so she heals the world.

65—The ancient Persons did not try to teach

The ancient Persons did not try to teach or train the people in the rules and regulations of living, but they did help them to un-learn the world’s wisdom. When the world thinks it knows the answers it is blind to the guidance of the ETERNAL SOURCE, but when it is open and empty the ETERNAL SOURCE immediately fills and nourishes with new wisdom.

The Person is never a clever or rich leader. He clings to the simplest and most direct patterns of guidance. He is very content to live the ordinary life and is able to empathize will all people in all their trials and show them their true nature, which is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE.

66—The great ocean is powerful

The great ocean is powerful because of its humility. It accepts all the waters from all the seas and rivers of the earth. The Person is also powerful because she is a good leader. She places herself below the people, she is their servant and receives all of them, the good and the evil, and as such she receives their honor and allegiance.

The Person is a superior leader. She is always in front of the follower, but no one feels oppressed or forced to move forward. They all move naturally together following the vision of the leader. The world is grateful for the leadership of the Person because she does not force, dominate or control.

67—The world often says

The world often says that the wisdom of the ETERNAL SOURCE is nonsense, lofty and impractical. But the Person knows that this wisdom is beyond perfection and is of great practical value. When put into practice its power is truly evident and astounding.

The Person has three gems of wisdom which she will always share. They are simplicity, patience and compassion and each is a treasure of great value.

Simplicity in thought and action allows you to return to the ETERNAL SOURCE. Patience with the creatures and substance of the world allows you to have peace and accept the things that simply are and the things that you cannot change. Compassion toward yourself and toward all creation allows you to receive the grace of the ETERNAL SOURCE and the ability to reconcile with all the beings in the world.


Opponents on the athletic field always want a fair and equal match. The most astute soldier knows the mind of his enemy. The truest leader serves the interest of the nation and understands the will of the people. The Person embodies the best of the athlete, soldier, leader and the virtues of cooperation, tolerance, and acceptance. All guided within the center of the ETERNAL SOURCE.

69—The strong leader in time of conflict

The strong leader in time of conflict is apt not to make the first move. It is always better to reflect upon the situation and see how your opponent acts. Sometimes it is better to retreat a yard than to advance an inch. The Person calls this advancing without moving forward and retreating without weapons. This action may help you to understand your enemy clearer and prevent needless violence and death, and in doing so you preserve the three treasures of simplicity, patience and compassion. In reality, when the two great forces are at opposition the victory will always go to the one who is more yielding and pliable. The other will eventually deplete his resources and energy.

70—The Person’s wisdom is simple

The Person’s wisdom is truly very simple and easy to put into practice. Yet the world is too clever and intellectual to accept the elegance of the ETERNAL SOURCE. The world always fails because it is full of itself and must un-learn many things. It must first become empty and receptive and then it may receive the free gift of the ETERNAL SOURCE.

71—Emptying oneself of the world’s wisdom

Emptying oneself of the world’s wisdom and un-learning its ways is the first step toward true knowledge. When we presume to know the truth we are only deceiving ourselves and are in reality broken, alienated and dysfunctional. Acknowledging that we are ill is the way toward healing.

The Person heals herself through the wisdom of the ETERNAL SOURCE. She has healed herself from the knowledge of the world and becomes whole.

72—Petty gods and idols

When the world forgets the ETERNAL SOURCE it creates its own petty gods and idols. When people are no longer centered in the ETERNAL SOURCE they build their own creations of authority to provide guidance and direction.

The Person destroys the gods and shows the people that the idols are made of dust. But he is gentle in his teachings because he does not want to confuse the lost. And so, the Person acts without acting and teaches without teaching. He reflects on the ETERNAL SOURCE and reveals its being through his being.

73—The ETERNAL SOURCE just “is”

The ETERNAL SOURCE just “is”, but then again it is “not”. It always overcomes as need be and speaks without a word. Its darkness and emptiness contain more than all the light in the universe and it continues to nourish and fill all within its grasp.

74—The ETERNAL SOURCE is forever changing

The ETERNAL SOURCE is forever changing the universe, but never changes itself. It holds on to nothing and is no-thing itself. The Person knows that he is forever changing but that when he is centered within the ETERNAL SOURCE he is changeless and not afraid of death.

The Person does not try to understand or control the future with the tools of the world. He knows, however, that within the center of the ETERNAL SOURCE there is no future or past—just “now”. He knows that the world’s tools will only cause suffering and despair.

75—Leaders of nations

Leaders of nations can be very dangerous. When they take too much from the people, the people become hungry, angry and disruptive. The less intrusive leaders can be the better for the people. The Person will always act for the benefit of the people and trust them to do the best for themselves. The only thing he can do is reveal the wisdom of the ETERNAL SOURCE. In that they will all benefit.

76—The infant is born soft, pliable and resilient

The infant is born soft, pliable and resilient. The dead person is stiff, hard and soon to crumble. A plant leaves the seed tender and delicate, but once dead it is brittle and dry.

The Person knows that those who are stiff, brittle and inflexible are reflections of death and ignorant of the ETERNAL SOURCE. But, those who are pliable and tender are reflections of the ETERNAL SOURCE. The pliable and tender will always persist while the stiff and brittle will be destroyed.

77—The ETERNAL SOURCE is like a precisely strung weapon

The ETERNAL SOURCE is like a precisely strung weapon in perfect balance; an instrument of infinite control. When leaders try to force their control they throw things off balance and their actions go directly against the ways of the ETERNAL SOURCE. The results are always disastrous and cause much sorrow.

When the Person leads her nation, she gives of herself because she knows that there is no limit to her wealth and power since it all originates in the ETERNAL SOURCE. Her actions are carried out without expectation and her successes are credited to those who follow her. She knows that she is no better than those she leads.

78—Water is the perfect reflection

Water is the perfect reflection of the ETERNAL SOURCE. It is soft and yielding yet it cleanses and dissolves the hardest stone. The soft and pliable always overcome the rigid and brittle. This is a truth that is so hard to put into practice. The Person, therefore, continues in his serenity and solitude, amidst the sorrows of the world. The evil cannot penetrate him because he has been completely filled by the ETERNAL SOURCE. These truths are a paradox.

79—The Person knows that failure is an opportunity

The Person knows that failure is always an opportunity for success and so she accepts the loss as her responsibility and moves on. She corrects her own mistakes and makes demands of only herself. She demands nothing of others.

80—The nation that is lead wisely

The nation that is lead wisely is content and enjoys the fruits of its own labor. It doesn’t march into others’ lands to steal, plunder or make war. Its battle weapons lie still and dormant—they rust and return to the earth. The people enjoy their produce and take care of their families. And though they hear the noise and progress of their neighbors they are content to simply be reflections of the ETERNAL SOURCE.

81—The truth is not always eloquent

The truth is not always eloquent and Persons do not always need to prove their point. Those who need to prove points are not usually wise. The Person has no possessions and is not possessive. He is happy just to give it all away and knows that the more he gives away the wealthier he becomes. The ETERNAL SOURCE is his nourishment and he is content simply being within its center and revealing its wisdom to the world.
Alice M Yaxley Comment by Alice M Yaxley on 5th mo. 14, 2009 at 5:01am
I hope you're contributing towards the hosting ;)

What does this have to do with Quakers (we're a christian church - this is about another religion and doesn't mention anything to do with Jesus or Quakers!)?
Forrest Curo Comment by Forrest Curo on 5th mo. 14, 2009 at 1:51pm
People who try to do good without knowing the Tao are like blind surgeons.

One of the things people find confusing about Jesus' actual teaching is that (as you might look at it) Jesus was an embodiment of the Tao (or of Holy Wisdom, if you're more comfortable putting it that way.)

Now how well this particular post works as a translation of the Tao .... One translation I read long ago had a preface, explaining a difficulty with the ancient Chinese in which the Tao Te Ching was written: It (like Hebrew) had few words, each with complex meanings. Any one sentence might carry a vast number of closely related (and/or metaphorical) interpretations; it would no more have a single meaning than one of Jesus' parables; or would it be any less meaningful. So, yeah, this post is probably in there too!

Anyway, we are not "a" Christian church. We started as an attempt to reconstitute the Christian church, to subvert the world's ersatz religious practices by pointing people instead to the true teacher inside. So in our essence we were formed to be a pointer to the source of love and truth inside each person-- "Christian" or otherwise--so that 'in Christ' (=='God at work in us') there is neither "Taoist" nor "Christian" nor "Quaker"; what we need to ask is "How much love and truth is in it?"

Rodger Kamenetz (Oy vey; he's Jewish, like Jesus! Not Christian!(like Jesus?!)):

"Every experience and every event has a voice, if only I keep my receiver in range. The blind man in an airport can be my teacher as well as Jonathon Omer-man or Reb Zalman or Eve Ilsen--and how I play Scrabble can be as profound as how I daven, if I truly listen and learn from every person and every event. Then I will meet Elijah everywhere and in everyone."
Richard Gordon Zyne Comment by Richard Gordon Zyne on 5th mo. 14, 2009 at 4:49pm
Forrest, you have said it quite beautifully. Words, definitions, labels, scripture all seem to get in the way of love and truth and we look at those "symbols" (instruments) as THE truth rather than seeing that they simply point to the truth. Even the Tao Te Ching is a metaphor that sometimes tries to describe the indescribable. But it admits that anybody who can define and label the Tao really doesn't have a clue.
Alice M Yaxley Comment by Alice M Yaxley on 5th mo. 15, 2009 at 3:10am
Well, it was a risk that my words would be dismissed, I knew that when I composed my queries above. A comment such as yours, Forrest, saying something like "Jesus was living from the Eternal Source, this is a document that helps me do that" that starts to put this Taoist text into a Quaker context for me. Another example, I saw some recent scholarship at Woodbrooke (published in Woodbrooke jounral) where a Friend was studying use of Taoist scriptures amongst Friends in the UK, are a number of people interviewed who have Taoist heritage and about how they reconcile the two streams - great.

It's when we start talking about "how does this help us be Quaker" that's when this place gets interesting for me. If the Eternal Source is Universal, why not speak from the scriptures that have been entrusted to us? It's a model I'm finding useful at the moment that a deeper engagement with our own tradition can teach us as much, if not more, as importing other texts. When I find an inspiration from another faith, the obligation I feel is to come back to our own faith and find where it is. Even saying "I find the Tao speaks to me of xyz which I find it hard to hear in scripture" is an attempt to engage with the reality of the Quaker church, our root in Christ.

The promptings of love and truth in me invite me to stay close to the root, Christ Jesus amongst us. My queries above come from a love of our rich spiritual heritage and a confidence in the possibility of finding that Life amongst us. I think words are important, to encourage and remind each other to return to the Word amongst us; without the words we can all get lost in an empty or nihilistic silence, rather than a pause immersing ourselves in the Living presence of the Risen Christ. The richness comes for me when we honestly engage our differences so we can change each other; I think it's too easy to lapse into quietism, dismiss the importance of the words we use and sit alongside each other in silence unchanged by each other, missing the possibility of communion in Christ.

I think we have an amazing rich heritage. If we don't love and use our own scriptures we risk abandoning them to those who use them for evil, distorting them for the oppression of the weak and the poor and the sick and the disenfranchised. We have been entrusted with a gift of our christian heritage, I don't think anyone else will look after it if we get busy curating the holy scriptures of other faiths? (I'd love to read your fresh Gospel translation or exposition?)

It matters to me that the Way of Jesus is alive. It matters to me that it is Jesus's Way, and I'm part of your community as well, I hope you can hear that I too am attempting to live from the source of Love and Truth. For me, the body of Christ includes all of us, none of us are unwelcome, all will be transformed when we touch the Eternal Source of his living presence.

I guess I don't see that transformation of touching the living source together as an automatic thing. I think we have to all be attempting to do that, and it helps me when i see words used as road signs or flags to indicate that is the attempt. I'm asking you to say more about how it fits in to being Quaker to broaden the stream, to get into the inclusive river where everyone in our church can be part of a conversation, not just those who are deeply involved in interfaith matters.

A big part of my spiritual journey at the moment is about trusting that I can speak from the truth I understand and that others can hear because you are also practicing to stay close to your guide. I guess both the previous comments come across a bit to me as if you find it easy to look down on me from the height of your knowing-better. :P
Forrest Curo Comment by Forrest Curo on 5th mo. 15, 2009 at 3:43pm
In the story of Adam and Eve... What was their religion? We read that they walked with God every day, and yet this was not enough; they needed "to go make something of themselves" (in one of Raymond Smullyan's retellings), to clothe their naked minds with particular ideas about God and themselves. If there hadn't been such a need, we might still be munching fruit in the Garden. This is to say that ideas seem to be an essential religious nutrient, which is part of what I understand you are saying.

One purpose of God giving people differing religious concepts... is to give them views, from different sides, of the sacred reality that these concepts never quite grip. Another use is to help add to the variegated beauty of the world, to potentially give various people and groups vantages to exchange with others. If we eliminated these differences, if each person took in such a wealth of other religions that he became like everyone and nobody--Then there would be no such variety and nothing to share. So yes, there's a value to keeping up whichever particular tradition we've been given.

But we really are trying to get to that central reality that these ideas seek to delineate. Being a 'Quaker' is very much about putting ourselves under the direct inspiration & teaching of God. And that means that being specifically "Quaker" has to be secondary. I'm Quaker because the truth that I know is manifest in that tradition, not because having joined the Quaker thing should restrict me to an oat diet.

My specific relationship to Christianity is problematical. I've always had an interest in Jesus: What was he actually doing and telling us? "Christianity" has generally seemed to be about something else. A major part of joining the Friends was that they seemed a lot closer to Jesus' truth than any of the churches based on "worshipping" him while ignoring his message(s).

Jesus explained, from the Jewish tradition, what our "Father" is like, and I believe him; I understand my life as a series of lessons from that Father--who doesn't seem altogether different from descriptions of God in various other religions. Jesus himself, so far as I remember, has never come to visit my mind; I'm okay with people whose religious experience takes that particular form; but mine so far doesn't. As with the Quaker thing, I try to follow Jesus' way because I see the truth I know in it. Yes, his words have done a lot to show me that truth; I am sure he was sent as a prophet to our civilization, and deserves to be "worshipped" less, attended to far more!

Something I read once about old China: The fact that someone was Confucian didn't mean he wasn't Taoist or Buddhist. These "religions" were there for whatever wisdom and understanding a person might derive from them, and why shouldn't he derive from more than one? This is one amazingly complex world!

Is God Christian? Well, yes, in a sense, but is God merely Christian? If you accept the reality of God as Jesus described Him, then the other religions have to point towards truth as well.

I am not "deeply involved in interfaith matters"! I am deeply involved with the One beyond the "faiths", not as much so as I sometimes wish I were; but that One has me by the scruff, & is doing His/Her/Its best with me.

For many years, I couldn't read a "Christian book" without being bewildered & appalled. Works of other religions also sometimes bewildered me, but not so consistently, and so that's what nourished me through those times. Whether you should read something that does nothing for you, I can't say, but then "the message may have been for someone else."


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