Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Way Fails Too

Scott Bradley


"...when you follow the Way be one with the Way / when you succeed be one with success / when you fail be one with failure / be one with success / for the Way succeeds too / be one with failure / for the Way fails too." (Tao Te Ching, Verse 23; Red Pine)

This is the conclusion to the chapter which tells us that Heaven and Earth are able to sustain neither whispered words nor a gale. How much less so can human beings sustain anything? Yet, Heaven, Earth and humanity, these are all the Way in their every manifestation.

The Way may be utterly transcendent, but this is not the Way we know. The Way we know is that manifest through the window and in the ups and downs of our individual lives. "Clearly, clearly the Way is known. It is only this. Why don't you pass through?" (Pai-Yun) To follow the Way is to realize that the Way is just this and to follow along with just this. But to do this is transcendence. To be one with success or failure is to "pass through", for it is to have transcended attachment to either. It is to have understood the unity, the innate wholeness of the totality.

Taoism is often described as 'naturalistic'. What is Tao? Look out your window. Nature, beautiful, yet "red in tooth and claw", this is Tao. Some find this unacceptable. How much more unacceptable then might they find the view through the inner window into their own heart? And yet this is precisely the Taoist vision; embrace it all, for all is Tao.

To be what you are is to follow the Way. Do you fail in even this? The Way fails too.

Always right and wrong wants to make its claim. Perhaps this Way is not for sociopaths; yet that does not mean it is not for you. To be one with failure is not to promote failure; nor is to be one with success to promote success. Through the acceptance of all things equally transformation comes. Yet nothing is purposely transformed. The Tao does nothing. Yet nothing is left undone.

Wholeness is not the assembly or re-assembly of parts. It already is. It is not achieved. It already is. All that we are and do begins and ends in wholeness. It already is — even in us.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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