Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bringing The Tao Into Your Home

As the story goes, the Chinese sage, Lao-Tzu (who was born five hundred years before Christ) decided to leave the province where he lived because he became disillusioned with the corrupt and decaying dynasty that ruled it. 

When he arrived at the border, a guard asked the wise old man if he would write a book before he left, instructing seekers in "the art of living." Lao-Tzu willingly agreed. He called his book the Tao Te Ching. When it was completed, he departed China, never to be seen again.

The Tao Te Ching is the sacred text of the Chinese religion known as Taoism and one of the most widely translated books of all time. It's followers strive to live according to the principles of the Tao (pronounced Dow) which they believe governs the order of the Universe. 

Like Zen, Tao, or the Way, is a spiritual path; it must be intimately experienced instead of intellectually comprehended if insights are to be discovered. One of it's main themes is unity, based on yielding rather than resisting. ("Tao" is eternal without doing, and yet nothing remains undone.)

When a seeker commits to the Way she sheds her expectations, becoming an empty vessel to be filled to the brim with both the yin and yang, the opposite male and female energies of life - career and home, light and dark, sorrow and joy, intimacy and solitude, aggression and passivity. 

We ask ourselves how the enigmatic advice of an ancient Chinese philosopher could help get our houses in order? If our souls are so preoccupied with undoing, how does anything ever get done?

Inexplicably, it gets done by pausing. By reflecting on the way in which life proceeds day in, and day out. What works, what doesn't . As we pause to reflect before doing, we must come to an awareness of how the nature of all things, even the smallest of the domestic sphere - contributes to the harmony of the Whole. 

One of Lao-Tzu's illuminating lessons is that "naming is the origin of all particular things" and that "mystery and manifestation arise from the same source."

I have taken this wisdom to heart, especially in how I perceive the work I do in our home. This could even be transferred to the office. Drudgery can be transformed, through a willing and open heart into labors of love. 

Begin with the words that describe, or name, your creative efforts . Let "Chores" or "Work" become "Tasks." Stop calling your daily routine "House Work" call it "Home caring." Redefining our work casts a subtle but powerful spell over the subconscious mind.

After all, caring - for yourself, your loved ones, your pets, and your home - is truly what you are doing when you dust, walk the dog, sort the laundry, buy groceries, prepare meals and work in the garden. 

Domestic tasks are visible manifestations of Spirit in the home. We find them by looking for the Mystery in the mundane, seeing the Sacred in the Ordinary. For me this is the heart of the Way, The Tao of home caring. 

Lao-Tzu urged seekers to "regard the small as important" and "to make much of little." Today try to glimpse everything you do in your home, no matter how insignificant it may seem, as part of your authentic path to Wholeness and it shall be so.   

Brightest of Blessings, 

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