This week’s verse from the Tao Te Ching is a beautiful articulation of feminine wisdom; of the understanding that softening and yielding, of embracing rather than turning away, is a powerful stance for living.
Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it.
The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
but few can put it into practice.
Therefore the Master remains
serene in the midst of sorrow.
Evil cannot enter his heart.
Because he has given up helping,
he is people’s great help.
True words seem paradoxical.
It’s a deep and important lesson, especially in a culture that venerates doing over being. Which from the perspective of feminine wisdom has it upside down. Put being first. Let doing serve being. That’s the understanding referenced in the title of this post. When we realize that we are the flow, everything is possible…
And the thing is, we really are the flow. We are not separate from it. Much as the mind and our wounding try to convince (and dissociate) us otherwise. Which is why every time we allow ourselves to breathe deeply, stretch into the moment, stop rushing, start listening, make friends with silence, and simply be with what is, we discover more space inside. And that spaciousness is the secret of possibility.
Here’s this week’s dharma talk:
Here are the poems I read. These three are Robert Bly’s versions of Kabir.
Inside this clay jug there are canyons and pine
mountains, and the maker of canyons and pine
All seven oceans are inside, and hundreds of millions
The acid that tests gold is there, and the one who
And the music from the strings no one touches, and
the source of all water.
If you want the truth, I will tell you the truth:
Friend, listen: the God whom I love is inside.
Let’s leave for the country where the Guest lives!
There the water jar is filling with water
even though there is no rope to lower it.
There the skies are always blue,
and yet rain falls on the earth.
Do you have a body? Don’t sit on the porch!
Go out and walk in the rain!
The fall moon rides the sky all month there,
and it would sound silly to mention only one sun —
the light there comes from a number of them.
The darkness of night is coming along fast, and
the shadows of love close in the body and
Open the window to the west, and disappear into the
air inside you.
Near your breastbone there is an open flower.
Drink the honey that is all around that flower.
Waves are coming in:
there is so much magnificence near the ocean!
Listen: Sound of bells! Sound of immense seashells!
Kabir says: Friend, listen, this is what I have to say:
The One I love is inside of me!
Here’s the Mary Oliver from A Thousand Mornings.
LINES WRITTEN IN THE DAYS OF GROWING DARKNESS
Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
who would cry out
to the petals on the ground
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married
to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do
if the love one claims to have for the world
So let us go on cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,
though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.
Here’s music audio. The first clip is opening chanting of Om Namah Shivaya and Namo Kuan Shih Yin P’u-Sa.
This clip is the Laksmi Murti Mantra with Dhumavati Bija leading into slow Om Namah Shivaya. There is also a bit of commentary at the beginning and a dharana at the end…
Finally, if you’re interested in my thinking about the relevance of the Sacred Feminine and why I believe it’s crucial to do the internal work of balancing, you might like to read this piece I wrote in 2009. This link will take you there.