Spotlight on Wellness
There is an ancient Chinese manual in the art of living, written by Lao-tzu, The Book of the Way and of How It Manifests Itself in the World, or the Tao Te Ching (pronounced Dow-Deh-Jing) and it gives tremendous advice in the most simplistic of forms. The entire book is eighty-one “chapters” but they are more like poems. A translated version by Stephen Mitchell describes it as looking “at the basic predicaments of being alive and gives advice that imparts balance and perspective, a serene and generous spirit. This book is about wisdom in action” (Mitchell)
The Tao Te Ching is a book I bought when I was reading a lot of sacred literature and I have recently found it again and started to read some every morning as part of a ritual in starting my day the right way. Even though the poems/chapters are very short and seem very simplistic, there are layers upon layers within the words and the poems are best read one at a time, as to let one sink in, think about it, and read it again until you feel it. The Tao, (the basic principle of the Universe) as Lao-tzu explains cannot be understood in the way we want to understand things; quickly, eagerly, the whole “I want to know NOW” concept. The Tao’s wisdom will find its way into to your way of life and into your heart if you let it.
I tend to fall into the category of overanalyzing everything and I also fall into the “I want to know NOW” group. With that said, these poems are challenging for me and that is the challenge and goal. I desperately want to live more in the present tense. I seem to be looking back and looking forward most of the time and I am constantly trying to ground myself in where I am now and be OK with it. These poems that are translated usually come with footnotes/ notes to refer to in the back of the book when you aren’t sure of something that was written and need some more guidance or help with the text which is very helpful. Like Lao-tzu said, it isn’t about understanding the way we try to understand most things-but you do need to grasp the wisdom of the Tao in order to let it help you.
I decided that in order to fully try to live in the present- I must actively be involved in trying to achieve this goal of mine. I made a pact as part of living my best life at www.vitamintdaily.com to read a poem from the Tao each day when I woke up and see how I felt at day 81 (when the book is done) There are many passages about living in the now, lessening your anxiety, calming your nerves, helping others, focusing on important things and not being obsessed with money, security or success because all of those things can be taken from you. I am embarking on my “A-TAO-A-DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY” goal so I thought I would share a poem from the Tao with you all today and hopefully encourage anyone who is also struggling with living and enjoying the present or who is hoping to ease their worried and exhausted mind to find a place for the Tao in their heart as well and see how they begin to feel after starting to read it. It is not a religious text; it is a manual on living and gives advice in simple ways, which in our society is something we have forgotten lately. I hope you find this simple, yet full of wisdom poem helpful, soothing and I hope you take it with you.
Poem/ Chapter 8
The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.
In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.
When you are content to be simply yourself
and don’t compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.
Mitchell, Stephen. Tao Te Ching, a New English Version. New York: HarperCollins, 1988. Print.