Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Verse 40: Born of Being

Verse Forty
Return is how the Way moves.
Weakness is how the Way works.

Heaven and earth and the ten thousand things
are born of being.
Being is born of nothing.
~ Ursula LeGuin rendition ~
In western society, we're taught to look at time in straight lines. There is a distinct start and finish to all things, a definitive beginning and ending.

But as Taoist thought underscores again and again, this preoccupation with time -- particularly this idea of always looking forward -- runs counter to nature. As Nina Correa explains,
We tend to think of life as moving forward - leaving behind the past and moving into the future. That thought process may be because we've learned a sense of time based on calendars and clocks. All of our days are based on numbers: minutes and hours, days, weeks, years, etc. We also tend to think we've left behind the past in our minds as well - we "get over" one experience in order to progress to the next. However, when we observe nature we can see that there's no sense of time in that way. A day doesn't "end", but progresses through the cycle to the next. Seasons recur like a revolving door, moving in a circular fashion.
As I've written in this space several times before, the world around us is predominated by circles, yet most of human society sees squares, right angles and lines on a straight continuum. The universe is highly flexible and moves in waves and cycles; we humans tend to be rigid and march in a straight line with our heads down. Is it any wonder that so many of us feel alienated and separate?

It's like we've been invited to a dance. The music is eclectic and all that is called for is for each of us to sway with the music. Unfortunately, all we know how to do is square dance! So, while the rest of the universe engages in a free flow of moment, here we are going through a set of measured steps that, of course, aren't congruent with the music at all!!

Even worse, as Diane Dreher tells it, we don't even recognize most of the movement that surrounds us in every moment.
The oak table, the walls around you, the roof overhead -- may appear solid, but are actually composed of billions of tiny particles whirling in cycles of incessant energy, tiny universes unto themselves, continuously evolving. Similarly, every cell in our bodies is constantly changing. We are not the same person we once were. Each year much of our body tissue is renewed through metabolic change. The dance of life goes on within and around us. Nothing in the universe stands still.
This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I like to just stare at things until they start vibrating. ;^) Freaks you out...


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