THE GATE KEEPER – THE HUMAN ABILITY

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The holy human being is aware:

The heart is one (or: whole);

The things are one (or whole);

Tao is one (whole).

But they all have their own pattern.

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Unite these three into one.

In doing so, make no distinction whatsoever.

Do not bring harm to any of them.

Yin Xi The Gate Keeper

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This text consists of two parts. In the first part Yin Xi places his students before the essence of our human state: the ability to become ‘holy’, ‘whole and one’.

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These are the words of a person who in utter silence – beyond the borders of his personal consciousness – has experienced the complete unity that always is there, but which is kept hidden by the veils of space and time.

Because the dual world in which we are living is not the only reality. It is embedded in an infinite field of ‘being’ which exceeds any imagery ability.

For a human being who ‘looses’  himself, a perfect unity opens up, indescribable with words.

But what is a ‘holy human being’ ? It is a human being ‘without an I’, because he has a pure heart. In Taoism the heart is not only seen as the seat of our emotions, desires and feelings, but also of the thinking, judgement, and self-consciousness.  A pure heart is not tainted by selfness and expendable craving, it is as ‘empty’ in that sense. In this way it is filled with the power that emanates from Tao: the Teh. It saturates his entire being, and without the limitations of his own person, the holy human being beholds the omnipresent unity between Tao and all that exists. It is a great miracle that within each one of us the opportunity is hidden to become a ‘holy human being’

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It is sometimes said that a person on a spiritual path starts to resemble the state of a child. Yet, between the both of them there is a fundamental difference.

A child still has little ‘I’ because its personal qualities and abilities still have to develop. No matter how wise the incarnating soul may be, it does not have the benefit of a fully grown instrument, because the personality has not yet been developed. The child lives in the ‘pre-personal state of being’.

It is true, the power of Tao – the Teh – flows in this stage unhindered into the microcosm, but it is unconsciously inhaled.

The development from child to adult is the stage of the development of the personality.

Now our personality practically occupies all space in the microcosm and the power of Tao seems to have disappeared to the background. However, it always remains connected with us and waits until we become aware of the infinity within us.

When this is the case, the stage of trans-personal development begins. In the course of his life, a very able personality has been developed. But where a person uses these abilities in ordinary life to progress and become more, the learning-sage focuses on ‘returning’, on ‘decreasing’. He does this by becoming empty with respect to all excessive matters that are standing between him and Tao.

He consciously decides to ‘go the Path of return’. This does not mean that he returns to the unconscious state in which no personality has been formed yet, but he turns towards the Source from which everything has emanated.

In this way the power of Teh is consciously inhaled in his inner being.   Verse 40 of the Daodejing says:

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The movement of the Way is: to reverse.

The method of the Way is: to be weak.

Heaven and earth and the then thousand things are born out of Being;

Being is born out of Non-being.

J.J. L. Duyvendak

Cycling is the movement of Tao.

Being weak is the function of Tao.

All things in the world are born from Existence (Being).

And Being from Nothingness.

Gu Zhengkun

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Yin Xi was a Gate Keeper, a holy human being, who guards the gate between the ‘something’ and the ‘nothing’.

Although there is only one Path, one Tao, there are different roads that lead towards it. The path of every human being starts on the basis of who he or she is at this very moment.

A Taoist adage says: ‘Tao has ten thousand gates; it is up to everyone to find his one’. Every gate has been secured with a key. But that is not an object handed over to us from outside, as a reward for the long journey, but we ourselves form the key.

However, it would be a misconception to think that this refers to our person, for that ‘disappears’ during the journey on the Path. We are one of the ‘somethings’ of which the energy is transmuted into ‘nothings’. Energy is never lost, but is transformed from one condition into the other. Think for instance of water that becomes steam when heated and thereafter evaporates as thin mist. The process of transmutation – the heat – forges our key, and this heat is liberated by the process of becoming empty.  

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The text of Yin Xi that was quoted at the beginning of this blog consists of two parts. In the first part he speaks of ‘the holy human being’ who is aware of   

the unity between Tao, the things and the pure heart.  

He ends this part with the words:

But they all have their own pattern.

We might assume that when things are one, they are also the same. For ‘pattern’, Yin Xi used the character 格gé . Next to that, this character also has the meaning of: square, manner, character or style. We could say that Tao, the things and the purified heart and head each have their own character and express themselves in their own style. We could compare this with the organs of our body that all have their own activity, but function within the unity of the body. However, differently than in the holy human being, the learning-sage has not connected himself to this unity. For he is still fully occupied with cleansing his heart. In the second part Yin Xi therefore turns to them when he orders them:


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Unite these three into one.

Make no distinction whatsoever in doing so.

Do not harm or damage either one.

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Herewith he touches the essence of the Path of Return: unification or becoming one, but without any personal approval or dislike. This means: without struggle.

The Path of Return is characterized by gentleness, thus refraining from all damage: not to the temporary human being, not to the ten thousand things and not to the working of Tao within us.

It is through Teh that we are able to go that Path. Teh never forces anything but nourishes all things, giving us the opportunity to develop into a consciously living human being. It is the Teh that thereafter opens our hearts so that they become ‘empty’. It is part of the human ability to cooperate herewith.

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