This blog is an interpretation of the Tao te Ching "Tao Virtue Book" which is attributed to Laozi "Lao Tze" a Chinese philosopher who lived circa 600 b.c.

Please remember always that this is the description of the Tao and not the experience of the living Tao. Hopefully, this blog will not serve as analysis or commentary but as a window into the Tao. You are encouraged to disagree with this interpretation, involve yourself in self-study, and ultimately leave all concepts behind and so experience the living Tao.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Understanding the Tao te Ching Chapter 16: Meditation and Enlightenment


Seek to attain an open mind (the summit of vacuity). Seek composure (the essence of tranquillity).

All things are in process, rising and returning. Plants come to blossom, but only to return to the root. Returning to the root is like seeking tranquillity; it is moving towards its destiny. To move toward destiny is like eternity. To know eternity is enlightenment, and not to recognize eternity brings disorder and evil.

Knowing eternity makes one comprehensive; comprehension makes one broadminded; breadth of vision brings nobility; nobility is like heaven.The heavenly is like Dao. Dao is the Eternal. The decay of the body is not to be feared.

Tao te Ching Chapter 16


Taken by itself, this chapter is a good lesson on the value of meditation.  Open the mind, seek the quiet and calm within.  See the rising and falling of life.

Taken in the context of earlier chapters that advised against desire for wealth and fame, this chapter can be seen as a description of what the Taoist seeks instead. 

If we are clear of mind, the author says, we will see in the world around us a natural rising and blossoming and then an equal natural return to "the root."   Realization of this natural cycle not only in the world around us, but also within ourselves leads to great peace.  Even death itself will not be feared.

Perhaps here is a good place to mention a very important detail; Taosit tend to be very happy people.  This is not always obvious from ancient poems and stodgy interpreters but it is the case.  Look at it this way, if you are so freed of your burdens that you do not even fear death, doesn't it follow that you have relaxed quite a bit and are free to enjoy things more?
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