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.

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