The forms of the great the Teh (virtue)
exclusively depend on the Tao.
The Tao as a thing
Is vague and indefinite.
Vague and indefinite,
It presents images;
Indefinite and vague,
It embodies substance.
Distant and dark,
it embraces semen-like essence.
The essence is a genuine existence
that can be tested as true.
From ancient times to now,
its name has always been accepted,
and with which, the beginning of all things can be surveyed.
How do I know the initial state of all things?
By means of the Tao.
Hidden deep in our heart, a reflection of Tao is resting. From this Tao, a power emanates, a radiation, which is called Teh. Teh is de timeless energy of Tao, active in the world of temporality.
This power does not exclude anything or anyone; it is as an altruistic love which empowers the entire existence.
For us, Tao always remains a hidden secret, but Tao’s radiation can be experienced.
The forms of the great Teh (virtue)
exclusively depend on Tao.
The relation between Tao and Teh could be compared to the sun and its radiation. They both are inseparably connected to one another: without the sun there is no radiation. The sun is so hot that no human life could be possible on it, but its radiation is pleasant for us. Its light and energy enable life on earth.
Teh is sometimes also translated as ‘virtue’. However, what is meant then is not some kind of human virtue, but it is referring to the fact that the love-energy of Tao spreads is virtue within us.
Teh is a spiritual power of a very special nature: it is not polarised and can therefore never turn into its opposite.
The spark in our heart, the reflection of Tao, is similarly timeless. That is why it is said that in our heart the original, timeless nature is resting.
Yet we are not always aware of that, because most of the time we are directed towards ‘the ten thousand things’.
However, if we direct ourselves to the timeless centre in our heart, then we catch a glimpse of the great Mystery.
In his first verse Lao Tzu makes this clear:
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of the ten thousand things.
Ever desire less, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one sees the manifestations.
We give names to things in order to be able to differentiate them from other things. We experience things within time as ‘before’ and ‘after’, and within space as ‘here’ and ‘there’, because we are living in a dualistic world. We also distinguish things in a moral sense: some things we regard as good, other things as bad.
However, each and all of the ten thousand things are polarised. Everything has its reverse: yin changes into yang and yang into yin. Nothing is of an absolute, unchangeable value.
We might think now: I have understood, so there are two natures: one of Tao, the timeless unity, and the other one is our temporal and dualistic world.
Then you would have considered well – seen from our dualistic perspective…..
However, seen from the viewpoint of complete unity, there is only one – timeless! – nature: Tao. Within Tao all other worlds exist, each one with its own temporary nature. Equal to a nest of bowls: if you look at it at eye level, you just see but one big bowl.
But if you look at them from above, then you see that smaller bowls are secluded within that large bowl.
The bowls are of the same basic shape, but they differ in size. Each one of them can also have its very specific contents and characteristics. Each bowl has its own function within the grand total.
However, Tao is not one of the bowls; it is also not outside or inside, for Tao has no form and is not bound to time and space.
Tao ís. Yet, Tao is present within all these bowls and within them Teh is thoroughly active. For us this is a mystery.
Just because we are human beings from this temporary world, we don’t have the ability to imagine timelessness. Zhuang Zi explains this in images:
Ruo, (the Spirit-lord) of the Northern Sea, said: “A frog in a well cannot be talked with about the sea – he is confined to the limits of his hole. An insect of the summer cannot be talked with about ice – it knows nothing beyond its own season.”
Zhuang Zi, Chapter, 17: The Floods of Autumn, translation: Chinese Text Project
We human beings are able to become aware of the fact that we are living in a world of space and time, and at the same time that we are part of timelessness. In this respect it is of essential importance to what aspect we focus our attention.
If it is directed towards our own being and to the ten thousand things, then we are actively concerned with these aspects. A lot of things are there to be lived through, to develop and to obtain, so there is also a lot to long for and desire. All of this spreads as it were a great deal of veils over the timeless centre of our heart. Then the ten thousand things are experienced as self-contained appearances that are not connected to Tao.
But if we direct our self to the timeless centre of the heart in non-doing, in Wu Wei, in non-egoistic activity, then the veils will vanish one by one. Gradually we become conscious of the existence of the essence of the hidden light. This makes us quiet, desire-less and simple.
About this Zhuang Zi says:
“As to what the common people now do, and what they find their enjoyment in, I do not know whether the enjoyment be really enjoyment or really not. I see them in their pursuit of it following after all their aims as if with the determination of death, and as if they could not stop in their course; but what they call enjoyment would not be so to me, while yet I do not say that there is no enjoyment in it. Is there indeed such enjoyment, or is there not? I consider doing nothing (to obtain it) to be the great enjoyment, while ordinarily people consider it to be a great evil. Hence it is said, ‘Perfect enjoyment is to be without enjoyment; the highest praise is to be without praise.”
Heaven does nothing, and thence comes its serenity; earth does nothing, and thence comes its rest. By the union of these two inactivities, all things are produced. How vast and imperceptible is the process!– they seem to come from nowhere! How imperceptible and vast!– there is no visible image of it! All things in all their variety grow from this Inaction. Hence it is said, ‘Heaven and Earth do nothing, and yet there is nothing that they do not do. But what man is there that can attain to this inaction? (Wu Wei)
Zhuang Zi, chapter 18: Perfect Enjoyment, translation: Chinese Text Project