Political and economic strife has a way of lifting its ugly head and breathing fire, like a wicked dragon. So it was 25 centuries ago when Lao Tzu wrote these verses in the Tao Te Ching:
The great Way is easy,
yet people prefer the side paths.
Be aware when things are out of balance.
Stay centered within the Tao.
When rich speculators prosper
While farmers lose their land;
when government officials spend money
on weapons instead of cures;
when the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible
while the poor have nowhere to turn-
all this is robbery and chaos.
It is not in keeping with the Tao.
What brilliance of observation! What clarity of thought and word!
I attended Princeton University. The library there is colossal. It’s three stories high and three stories extend into the bowels of the earth, all filled with books. Sometimes I would wander through the “stacks” and consider: “All these books. All this wisdom. And what progress have we made toward solving the basic problems of humankind?”
It’s tempting to see conditions in the world today as a “cup half empty.” And to say that all those books have done little good. But indeed. To entertain a thought like that is not “to stay centered in the Tao.” For while there may be robbery and chaos upon the land, my thoughts, as they radiate out into the ethers, are either fuel for the dragon’s fire, or a balm that heals the burns.
There’s a page in a local daily newspaper called “30 Seconds.” People can email or call a phone line and talk for 30 seconds. Most people use it to vent and to spout nastiness. When I read it, I am ashamed and embarrassed for humanity; and fear there is no hope. If I don’t watch myself, again, I find myself tempted to look at the cup half empty…and fall into a state of depressed resignation.
But no. This is not staying “centered in the Tao.” The dragon breathes fire from all quarters; from the terrorist’s suicide bomb and from the mouths of the agitated, struggling Everyman. Either I can join the fray or lay low, in serenity, in the Tao.
The Tao is the Great Way; the Great Mystery; the Cosmic Christ; Nuwati, Medicine; the Source. Serenity and the power to balance, to bring harmony and to heal are the attributes of all of these. I bow with appreciation to the Source that grants me this wisdom.
Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha has said: “Do the Tao.” Sounds good to me!