How we can reach Tao when at the same time were are living in this nature? Yin Xi presents the answer:
Tao is reached on the basis of ‘not’
Maybe this answer is disappointing for us, ‘now we still know nothing’. However, his answer appears to be both simple as well as hopeful.
We are ‘something’. But the ‘nothing’ of Tao rests in our heart like a spark of light.
We can join Tao by freely opening up for it, without any reservation –.
This puts the learning-sage for the fact that the light spark is as covered by many veils. They are formed by the characteristics of our person, our ‘I’. As soon as all the veils have been put aside, the Gate towards the nothing opens up.
However, the problem is that we ourselves are the veils. We cannot remove them ourselves, because we would destroy our self. The great mystery lies in the fact that this removal is done for us by the power that emanates from the light spark, although our cooperation in this process is indispensable. This is called “the doing of the not-doing”. The learning-sage begins to learn what this means in daily practice.
Tao is without
Because Tao is without “I”, our ‘I’ cannot be part of Tao.
In order to touch Tao, our temporary nature will have to be transformed into the timeless Nature.
In the image next to these words, the dark represents the temporary nature and the nine golden leaves the original nature. In the center between Yin and Yang we see the invisible ‘nothing’. Transforming the temporary nature into the timeless nature is a process of long duration. It starts with the purification of our person, both as to our body, our emotions, our desires and thoughts.
However, the learning-sage also finds out that within him, within her, there is a profound desire for something that cannot easily be worded and which rises above the ordinary longing. Many times the personality defines this, for instance as a yearning for enlightenment, or a yearning to be liberated from the wheel of birth and death; or for deep eternal peace or a heavenly existence.
But no matter how beautiful and exalted these longings are, they all stem from our personality. Often they form a strong incentive to go the Path.
Contrary hereto the inexpressible desire is the working of the power of the ‘nothing’ in our heart.
We identify ourselves with it, often without realizing this, thus forming a ‘spiritual self’. This aspect of our temporary nature will need to be purified as well.
The holy person does not see progress as Tao
We are children of two natures which are both active within us. We use the energy of the temporary nature with our eyes focused on ‘something’, and practically always that something is in our own interest. In Taoism this is seen as ‘progression’: we do the things of this world in order to advance.
But the more something progresses, the further it moves away from Tao.
Further from Tao means: more ‘something’ and less ‘not something’.
A Taoist monk in modern China made the following remark in this respect: On the path towards Tao the temporary qi is transformed into the timeless Qi. This requires from the person to leave everything, yes, really everything behind, meaning: becoming empty as to every attachment on every level. This is a process that takes a lifetime’. The nature of this becoming empty is described by Yin Xi as follows:
The holy human being does not see progress as Tao,
but as withdrawing on the basis of not being.
The other Nature is not-something. It is the power emanating therefrom that cleanses our person; we cannot do this ourselves. Yet this purification is only possible when the learning-sage in everything that is done at the same time focuses on the timeless Nature in his heart.
In Taoism this is called: ‘following the double course.’
This implies that he maintains an open attitude towards everything that he encounters. Like every other person he experiences pain and sorrow and he does things that are not always right. But whatever it is: he just discerns, without judging. Judging is based on emotion: ‘I did wrong and I have to make up for it’. This is an action from the energy of this nature and immediately Tao is hidden behind a new veil. The learning-sage ‘does’ not in this way. It is however paradoxical that meanwhile he ‘does’ quite a lot. Because while he faces everything that is presented to him, time and again he turns to the eternal silence in his heart which has never entered the turmoil of this world.
The Sage is aware that the Heart is in the heart.
But is following the double course not a bit simple, or maybe even just ordinary egocentrism with a ‘spiritual sauce’? The learning-sage could not suffice by saying: ‘I focus on the Heart and then everything will automatically be all right’?
However, as to this nature, the learning-sage takes full responsibility and does whatever is needed. But he also ‘does’ this with regard to the other Nature. Then, from the Heart, a non-polarized energy is freed within him: as a silence that cannot turn into its opposite. Because of this, the personal desires, ideas and actions of the learning-sage thus begin to show a different perspective. His personality is not so much the center of his attention anymore and he becomes milder with respect to the ten thousand things with their good and their evil.
Nonetheless there is one important condition, which is that the learning-sage follows the double course without any intent of being after something, also not for ‘higher’ desires.
Only then an intense purification takes place within him or her, through the power in the heart. Verse 48 of the Daodejing says about this:
In the course of learning, one increase every day.
In the course of Tao, one decrease every day.
Decreasing and decreasing, until doing nothing.
Doing nothing, yet everything is done.
In pursuit of knowledge, every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao, every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things, until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.