Become totally empty.
Let your heart be at peace.
Amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings,
observe how the endings become beginnings.
Things flourish each by each,
only to return to the source…
to what is and what is to be.
To return to the root is to find peace.
To find peace is to fulfil one’s destiny.
To fulfil one’s destiny is to be constant.
To know the constant is called insight.
Not knowing this cycle
leads to eternal disaster.
Knowing this constant gives perspective.
This perspective is impartial.
Impartiality is the highest nobility;
the highest nobility is Divine.
Being Divine, you will be at one with the Tao.
Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
This way is everlasting,
not endangered by physical death.
The 16th verse of the Tao Te Ching
[GARD align=”left”]Perhaps one of the most powerful verses of the Tao Te Ching. The whole verse revolves around the central theme of remaining constant in an ever-changing world. In the opening line, Lao Tzu is asking you to become totally empty. Emptiness is a recurrent idea in Eastern philosophy, especially in Buddhism. Becoming empty doesn’t mean becoming numb, dull or devoid of anything that is human. What it really means is ‘unlearning’ and disengaging yourself from all those beliefs, thought patterns and limited perspectives that were built unconsciously throughout the years. Whether we like it or not, our stack of knowledge about how the world works, our values, biases and expectations very often distort our perspective on life at the cost of losing the opportunity to be more open and receptive to what is authentically coming from our creative selves.
“One fundamental perspective that is distorted by our beliefs has got to do with the impermanence of life.”
One fundamental perspective that is distorted by our beliefs has got to do with the impermanence of life. What Lao Tzu is pointing at is that if you observe life more closely you will not only see but embrace the fact that things are in constant flux – coming and going and wherever there is an ending there is always a beginning. If we are faithful to this cycle of nature and life, you will surrender to a deeper wisdom that will bring about peace in your heart and when you have peace in your heart you become more in tune with your destiny.
“When you are in alignment with your purpose and destiny, something magical happens”
Now when you are in alignment with your purpose and destiny, something magical happens. You become ‘constant’. This doesn’t mean that you become stagnant or unchanging. Being constant means that you are in your centre of calm even when everything around goes upside down. It means that you do not sway or get sucked in the chaos around you. Whatever changes happen around you, you are on a constant path driven by your life purpose.
Throughout life we are sometimes swept by the currents or we get through an emotional roller coaster ride. One day we feel that life is smiling at us as we radiate joy and optimism and another day we feel that the world is closing in on us with no way out of the dark patch. This of course is the contrary of living in constancy.
When we become more constant we achieve a wider and impartial perspective on life. This perspective is the perspective of the sage who has found the inner wisdom and more importantly has met the divine in his or her life. It is being at one with the Tao as Lao Tzu puts it.
“Stand back, stay with yourself and stay in your heart. Let it pass because it will.”
Here is my interpretation of this powerful verse in a nutshell: Whenever the proverbial stuff hits the ceiling fan or you are on the floor after life has kicked your ass remember this – it will pass, come back and pass again as will many beautiful moments. So what’s the point? The point is to get wiser and and recognise all this without getting blown away or distraught. Stand back, stay with yourself and stay in your heart. Let it pass because it will. Be at peace with yourself during that moment and slowly you will start aligning with your destiny. You will gain constancy and perspective on life. More waves can come crash on your beach but you will surf on them or you’ll just lie down on the sand and relax until it has all calmed down. It doesn’t really matter anymore because you are not some float bobbing up and down on the rough sea anymore. You have understood the everlasting way.