I just wrote and then subsequently deleted a really long introduction to what follows below and why it’s really meaningful to me right now. Why did I delete it? I think because I’m not sure it is appropriate for this space. I will tell you that this comes from a book that I “acquired” (I’ll let you interpret that one) at our last Hagsaeng Naebu meeting. Honestly, given my track record, I’m not sure why Master Pearson allowed me to leave with this particular volume in hand. I nabbed his copy of The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion: Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Hinduism – A Complete Survey of the Teachers, Traditions, and Literature of Asian Wisdom. This is a book that I have drooled over for years while standing in the Pearson Library and certainly since Hagsaeng Naebu began, though I have been too shy I guess to take it. I have always understood this book as a sort of prized possession of Master Pearson’s. I have often seen him pouring over it and he has, countless times, sent me excerpts from it to ponder and consider (he is known for this kind of “tasking” see his post from this week — although I’d like to point out that I was the one who developed the wheel system for the trigram exercise I was charged with!!!). It would have been supremely helpful during my undergraduate years as I was pursuing my BA in East Asian History and Thought but of course it is out print. So needless to say this book has become a fixture on my coffee table and every day I try to read a few entries (not in order of course, this isn’t the type of book you read from cover to cover – I just flip to something I’m thinking about and then read all the entries that surround it). One of the first pages I checked out was of course the entry on Tao. Not surprisingly, it is quite long and quotes extensively from the Tao Te Ching. But there is a section of this entry whose meaning has resurfaced with a vengeance for me in recent days – although as I stated above, I’m not sure this is the space to explain why. I’d like to share the excerpt it with you here…
That which you look at but cannot see is called the Invisible. That which you can listen to but cannot hear is called the Inaudible. That which you grasp but cannot hold is called the Unfathomable. None of these can be inquired after, hence they blend into one (From the Tao Te Ching – Chapter 14).
All Taoists strive to become one with the Tao. This cannot be achieved by trying to understand the Tao intellectually; the adept becomes one with the Tao by realizing within himself its unity, simplicity, and emptiness. This requires intuitive understanding…The Tao may be known by no thoughts, no reflections. It may be approached by resting in nothingness, by following nothing, by pursuing nothing…The Tao thus is realized by abiding in silence, and the way to silence is found by “letting go:” To search for knowledge is to acquire day after day; to seek the Tao means to let go day after day. Silence corresponds to a return to the Source; by abiding in stillness all inner and outer activity comes to rest and all limitations and conditions fade away…allowing us to behold our true selves and realize the absolute.