Tao Te Ching Chapter 10

Carrying your spirit and your animal nature within, can you keep them as one?

Can you nurture your life energy to achieve the softness of a newborn?

Can you polish the mirror of your deepest reflections until you are without flaws?

Can you care lovingly for your kingdom while remaining unknown?

Can you stay receptive to the life and death of all beings?

Can you remain innocent in the light of pure awareness?

The sage nourishes and develops all things, yet makes no claims;
Leads, yet does not control.

This is the profound mystery of Tao.


Who we are here and now and what we are doing is perfect.


Good questions. Can I? Can you?

We can develop, we can nourish, we can be humble and make no claims, we can walk our path and be followed or not, we can share our experience freely, without expectation of personal validation or conversion of others to our path.

Yet there is a mystery spoken of here. And a mirror. Is the presence of a mirror the mystery? Why is there a mirror at all, since it appears to create a separation between being and doing, and that which is?

Are mysteries to be solved? Or accepted? In our time, particularly since the development of scientific method, there is the assumption mysteries can be solved with reasoning, with the mind. There’s a lot to be said for reason, and it has been said in western thought for millenia.

Yet there’s also much said about mysteries which, in the course of the application of reason, prove to be mysteries which reason is not able to solve.  The highest point of reason is reflected in the conclusions it ascertains about its own limitations.

We have doing and being on one side of the mirror, and all that simply is on the other. It’s a mystery that the mirror is there at all. Why all the polishing, why all the reasoning, and development, and nourishing? Why is there achievement and care and receptivity and maintenance?

When the mirror disappears do being and doing then achieve oneness with all that is? Do polishing, reasoning, development, nourishing, achievement, care, receptivity, maintenance, and mystery and being – and all that exists truly, and not as a reflection in our personal mirror – does it all become One?

What’s going on here, now? Just this: we are here, now, doing and being that which is.

In the mirror we can be comfortable in our own skin, warts and all. We can be aware of the imperfect reflection in the mirror of our personal perception and unique experience, and simultaneously aware of our perfection, knowing that we exist and live and breathe and do and be in a universe where even mirrors exist without contradiction, a place where everything belongs just as it is – even us.

Unsolvable mysteries defy solution, can not be summed in the reason-conveying medium of words.

Who we are here and now and what we are doing is perfect.

2 Responses to Tao Te Ching Chapter 10

  1. This is so cool, Bob. You have a completely different take on what the mirror represents! I had not even considered it like that at all. I love that. Just like two snowflakes are never the same, two perceptions of a beautiful ancient text are never the same either. Neither are meant to be cast in stone, but more like sand to the wind. Changing and dissolving through time.

    bobgriffith says:
  2. Exactly! If we each look at the same thing and see something different, does the thing itself change? Or is it constant? Will that which is seen assign a value of “correctness” to each viewpoint, or will it simply continue to be what it is? We are all arrayed like prisms illuminated by a single source, reflecting our refracted light to one another, and we say, “Yes, I see that,” or “No, I see something different.” And yet aren’t we always inspired to our perceptions by the same thing? And if we take one step back, and see ourselves and the inspiring thing which is, are we not all part of a single thing which includes all beholders and the thing which is beheld, and all the myriad reflections?

    Practically speaking, for me, life is perfect and imperfect simultaneously. I will wake up to the day and thoughts and feelings and the experiences of the day will come. I will by turns perhaps be happy, sad, celebratory, depressed, peaceful, angry, accepting, judgmental, fearful and/or unfearing. I will encounter what I see as low levels of consciousness, people hurting themselves or others, I will be aware of better options for them which they do not see, and are moving toward, and I will wish to help them on their way, and I will forget their way is their own, and they have not asked me for anything. I will have opportunities to reflect many energies into myself or back out to those I encounter. I will be a fool, I will make mistakes, I will curse myself for it, I will heal my self-inflicted feelings of insufficiency, I will walk down through the long trail of learned remedies and coping skills and tools acquired on my path and return to sanity and clarity, but not before tumbling and wrestling with it all in my mind, with my words, my reason, my perception, my experience.

    It’s all part of that which is. We have knowledge of good and evil, we see both, they are real to us. There are things to stand for, things to stand against, better ways and worse ways, places of light and places of darkness. There is love and hate, acceptance and resistance, and there are steps from darkness into light. There are fragments in a thing which is absolutely and eternally whole. It’s all a part of that which is.

    The path tells us we must “rise” if we are to become realized, that essentially we must divorce or separate ourselves from some things in order to have others. This is the way of being and doing, and it works.

    The “destination” to me has always been the same. In times beyond my own resources, when I have used all the tools acquired on my path and they have not been sufficient to the task and I have not been able to discover a point of peace and understanding and have not been able to reconcile myself with the presence of something in myself which I do not want and has become unbearable – for instance the sudden loss of loved ones – I go to the mystery. I seek the answer in prayer, turn the job over to that within me which is not reason and thought, that Source.

    Ever notice how the answer is always the same, there?

    “It is what it is. Let it be.”

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