The Tao Te Ching: Verse Fifty-Six

Those who know do not talk
Those who talk do not know

Close the mouth
Shut the doors
Blunt the sharpness
Unravel the knots
Dim the glare
Mix the dust
This is called Mystic Oneness

They cannot obtain this and be closer
They cannot obtain this and be distant
They cannot obtain this and be benefited
They cannot obtain this and be harmed
They cannot obtain this and be valued
They cannot obtain this and be degraded
Therefore, they become honored by the world

                                                                          Lao Tzu

Speaking is not the only way to demonstrate your understanding of an issue. Patience, mindfulness and listening are often greater indicators of mastery and certainty. Understanding something and resisting the urge to speak about it is not so much a way of quietly knowing as it is a way of honoring the power and strength of Silence.

Lao Tzu is suggesting that we listening more than we speak. In choosing to remain silent when the urge to speak (fix) is tugging at you, can in fact, create a space around you that is felt by others to be safe, wise, and reassuring. Words can often become a distraction to the message you want to convey.





The Tao Te Ching: Verse Fifty-Five

Those who hold an abundance of virtue
Are similar to newborn infants
Poisonous insects do not sting them
Wild beasts do not claw them
Birds of prey do not attack them
Their bones are weak, tendons are soft
But their grasp is firm
They do not know of sexual union but can manifest arousal
Due to the optimum of essence
They can cry the whole day and yet not be hoarse
Due to the optimum of harmony
Knowing harmony is said to be constancy
Knowing constancy is said to be clarity

Excessive vitality is said to be inauspicious
Mind overusing energy is said to be aggressive
Things become strong and then grow old
This is called contrary to the Tao
That which is contrary to the Tao will soon perish

                                                                            Lao Tzu

In this fifty-fifth verse of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu speaks of the virtue of a resilient nature in terms that imply far more than an ability to adjust easily to change. He instructs that this quality of character is essential to contentment. It is a trait that gives one the ability to work with adversity in such a way that one comes through it even better for the experience.

How does one cultivate resilience? First you develop the discipline of patience. Patience slows the pace of life and offers you a perspective that can only be seen when there is a lot of space around an issue.

Patience is the root of flexible tenaciousness. As you become more comfortable with the certainty of impermanence and your ability to rebound from welcomed or unwelcomed change; you discover your courage. Your courage relieves you of being self-centered and letting go of that self-centeredness starts you on the road to healing from your neurotic inflictions.  As you connect and identify more with others you begin to cultivate compassion and unfold the purpose of your life.

Resilience does not guarantee happiness but it does provide you with the ability to be buoyant in turbulent waters. It will support you in your search for the Middle Way. It is the underpinning to Enlightened Contentment.


The Tao Te Ching: Verse Fifty-Four

That which is well established cannot be uprooted
That which is strongly held cannot be taken
The descendants will commemorate it forever

Cultivate it in yourself; its virtue shall be true
Cultivate it in the family; its virtue shall be abundant
Cultivate it in the community; its virtue shall be lasting
Cultivate it in the country; its virtue shall be prosperous
Cultivate it in the world; its virtue shall be widespread

Therefore observe others with yourself
Observe other families with your family
Observe other communities with your community
Observe other countries with your country
Observe the world with the world
With what do I know the world?
With this

                                                                                                       Lao Tzu

The concept most central to Eastern philosophical thought is the awareness of the unity and mutual interconnection of all things and events. There are no coincidences. For every action there is a gentle ripple of energy that affects us all. All things are seen as interdependent and inseparable parts of this cosmic whole (Great Oneness).

While Eastern thought refers to our spiritual and energetic bond; it is impossible to deny our actual ability to relate to each other when we can pick up a phone, text, Skype or email someone on the other side of the planet and reinforce that interconnectedness within minutes.

This is why it is so difficult to listen to the news. There is a never ending barrage of suicide boomers, a massacre of yet another group of innocent folks, civil wars and bloody riots. These events and our ability to relate to the people that it is happening to are united in real time. There is no such thing as something taking place is a remote corner of the world any longer. It is such a paradox. We can feel the real time elation of an Olympic record breaking performance and the heartbreak of a movie theater mass murder right on the couch in our home or the phone in our hand.

Perhaps the easy solution to protecting our hearts is to change the channel or try to unplug from the world. That may provide a short term solution but there is no getting way from the reality of being siblings of the same Great Mother. The guiding message from Lao Tzu, in this fifty-fourth verse of the Tao Te Ching, is to cultivate our sense of family. For it is in the acknowledgment of this Union of Souls that our greatness and perhaps even our salvation as a species may lie.

So let us commit to becoming Family Caregivers for each other. Look for the common thread you share with everyone you encounter. Pray for those in our family that are trying to make a better life free of tyranny. Get involved on an energetic level or in a more tangible manner but get involved. Cultivate respect and love.


The Tao Te Ching: Verse Fifty-Three

If I have a little knowledge
Walking on the great Tao
I fear only to deviate from it
The great Tao is broad and plain
But people like the side paths

The courts are corrupt
The fields are barren
The warehouses are empty

Officials wear fineries
Carry sharp swords
Fill up on drinks and food
Acquire excessive wealth

This is called robbery
It is not the Tao!

                                                                                                       Lao Tzu

This Verse of the Tao Te Ching is a reprimand to those for whom enough is never enough. The message is clear. Feeding the neurotic need to acquire for the sake of stockpiling materials, money or perceived power will only serve to separate you from the peace and harmony that is the Tao. Having excess amounts of anything may offer a momentary sense of security but this is soon followed by the fear and torment of losing this illusion of safety.

I view this passage as an acknowledgment to those who choose to be professional or family caregivers. These words validate that their efforts are indeed in alignment with the Universe. Choosing to care means you choose to be generous. Caregivers practice generosity by sharing their knowledge, skills, time, energy, and in some cases, material resources with those who are in real need.

It is difficult to get through an ordinary day without encountering some form of human exploitation, social injustice, or stealing either directly or via the media. But we cannot allow ourselves to become too discouraged or cynical by this fact. There is far more to celebrate than regret in this life. If you are among the millions of incredible people that live from their heart and feel an sense of joy or satisfaction from helping another person when they are most vulnerable; then celebrate yourself and know that you are on the right Path.


The Tao Te Ching: Verse Fifty-Two

The world has a beginning
We regard it as the mother of the world
Having its mother
We can know her children
Knowing her children
Still holding on to the mother
Live without danger all through life

Close the mouth
Shut the doors
Live without toil all through life
Open the mouth
Meddle in the affairs
Live without salvation all through life

Seeing details is called clarity
Holding on to the soft is called strength
Utilize the light
Return to the clarity
Leaving no disasters for the self
This is called practicing constancy

                                                                                                       Lao Tzu

This beautiful fifty-second verse of the Tao reminds us once again that we are all decedents of the Great Mother and citizens of the Great Oneness. This fact is clearly wrapped in a paradox given the current state of global and local conflict and the reality of our interconnectedness even if it is only at times, via the World Wide Web.

Lao Tzu shares two important messages in this passage. The first is to be ever mindful of the power our words or, more precisely, our actions hold. The second is to understand that our actions can fill us with (Universal) light or compel us to life a life void of salvation. It is the intent or emotion fueling our words and actions that builds our karmic heritage. This life lesson is also referenced in the Bible, “for whatever one sow, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7-9).

Our life-force (Chi) enters and leaves our body through the mouth. So it follows that the foundational building blocks of any relationship or community (Sangha) lies in the strength, purity and skillfulness of our speech and the actions that follow what is said. In Buddhism this is known as Harmonious Speech.

Harmonizing Speech involves promoting whatever good or positive things we hear about others and refraining from disseminating whatever messages might lead to quarrels or injured feelings. Embracing the practice of Harmonious Speech will first, heal you. It will then lead to benefiting everyone within your immediate and extended circle by creating the Trust necessary to anchor an atmosphere of balance, cooperation and harmony.

My wish for my professional, interdisciplinary caregiver colleagues is to understand that the Law of Karma is a law of cause and effect. Things we choose to do, say or think set karma into motion. So much is written and discussed in books, online and in other forums about our propensity to undermine each other. Many of the scenarios shared are disturbing because we can either relate to the story or reflect on a time(s) when we participated in the ugliness.

Most of what is related focuses on the hurtful, condescending tones used by one in authority toward a subordinate. Little is written about the willful misrepresentation of a conversation or professional discussion for the sake of gamesmanship or destroying the reputation of one who braves a leadership role. However, both are intentional, conscious, deliberate, willful action that set a huge karmic ball in play.

I believe that the nature and structure of professional caregiving forces one to feed their aggressive (Yang Energy) nature in order to survive. Why professional caregiving is a constant battle is multi-factorial and an easy explanation eludes me. We seem to have lost sight of our softer (Yin Energy) selves. Perhaps reconnecting with our Mystical Feminine Yin Energy is a first step toward reconciliation with our truer natures as caregivers.

Yin Energy is a powerful receptive, balancing and healing energy. It is pure nurturing energy and ultimately the key to bringing balance to our Earth’s or perhaps our professional community’s overheated and agitated Yang state. Yin Energy represents the missing piece to the puzzle that lets us all remember that we are all connected with the Great Oneness.

So the simple lesson contained in verse fifty-two of the Tao Te Ching is to listen more than you speak and work toward incorporating Harmonious Speech into your daily life. Practicing Harmonious Speech requires committing to four teachings: abstaining from frivolous speech, abstaining from false speech, abstaining from harsh speech and abstaining from slanderous speech. Each teaching is self-explanatory.