Tao Te Ching Summary: Lessons From Lao Tzu – Lesson 2

Lesson 1: The Lesson of God
Lesson 2: The Lesson of Silence
Lesson 3: The Lesson of Simplicity
Lesson 4: The Lesson of Acceptance
Lesson 5: The Lesson of Detachment
Lesson 6: The Lesson of Giving

Lesson 2: The Lesson of Silence

The most common association to silence is the absence of sound, yet silence implies something much deeper and more profound. The real value of silence is not in the stillness from the outside world as much as it is an inner sense of peace.

That inner silent space deep within us is the only place where we can create a sense of peace for ourselves. It is from this sense of peace that we can live a blissful life.

In the previous lesson we looked at Lao Tzu’s lesson on finding God and one of the eternal truths about our own spirituality. In this day and age with the complexity of life it can be a real challenge to “make time for spirituality”.

To really live a spiritual life, you have to learn to stop dividing your life into different parts. It’s all one – when you are on purpose and all the different aspects of your lifework together you create a synergy in your life where everything feeds back into each other – each playing an integral part in your happiness and fulfillment as a human being.

Also the previous lesson was about finding God, but HOW? God is within you, but how do you find God, how do you make conscious contact with God? It’s been said that the one and only voice of God is silence.

When we experience silence we get to commune with God because when we let go off all that is going on in the physical world, we get to be in the invisible world – the world of spirit – the domain of God.

Lao Tzu reminds us of this great truth when he said:

Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind become still.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.

Lao Tzu (c.604 – 531 B.C.)

It’s estimated that the average adult has 60,000 thoughts a day and for the most part our lives are dominated by a mass of thoughts coming from everywhere.

To make matters worse, life is becoming even more complex with so many distractions, which keep our minds occupied virtually every waking moment of our lives.

Lao Tzu encourages us to empty our minds and to let our minds become still. “Getting” to your “Self” you have to make your way through the mass of thoughts and distractions that almost constantly plaque our consciousness.

Silence is like emptying your mind and when your mind is empty you experience peace because there is no obstruction to your connection with your highest Self.

In the end, these thousands of things buzzing in your mind will “rise and fall” , they will come and go and keep doing that as long as you have a mind. But, underneath it all at your centre your highest self remains undisturbed.

That eternal spiritual essence that is the real you is and has always been in there looking out. Underneath the surface of daily human awareness is that eternal part of your Self, your spiritual essence and it wants nothing but to be at peace.

When you are at peace you are in a state of pure consciousness. When you are at peace you are in a state of enlightenment and through silence we can consciously create peace through silence.

Creating this stillness in our lives is a very hard thing for many. In a society that is so focused on achieving, the majority of us are so busy, that finding time to be quiet is seen as a luxury that few can afford.

In our ego driven culture we place very little value on inner peace.

Ironically we seem to prefer drugs to silence the mass of thoughts pulsating through our minds in a desperate attempt to escape daily human awareness. There’s a lot of hope in Lao Tzu’s apparent despondent statement. He reminds us that nothing is permanent.

Everything will eventually change and even perish, but the Self is eternal and remains undisturbed by it all. He even tells us how to remain centered and to live from this Eternal part. His advice is simple: empty your mind and become still.

In the New Testament God said, “Be still and know that I am God.” If you want to get to know God on a deeper and more intimate level then empty your mind and become still.

Every religion known to mankind practices silence in some shape or form. Whether it is prayer, meditation or yoga .the idea of creating silence as a means to find God within is as old as mankind.

Meditation is an age-old spiritual technique for emptying the mind. Meditation encourages you to focus your attention inwards and to free yourself from all the noise that goes on the surface of your life.

Meditation brings you in contact with that divine spark that is within each and every one of us and it helps you to expand your consciousness beyond the mere physical world.

Finding this stillness has many paths. On the most fundamental level you have to learn to switch off from your work. Most people develop a one-track-mind where they do so much of one thing that it consumes their entire lives. This builds a wall around your inner self.

For many being crazy-busy is nothing but an unconscious device to protect them from looking inside to deal with the real issues in their life.

It’s become a very acceptable excuse in our culture to hide behind being “too busy”. Silence forces you to look inside and only when we do can we enter that holy domain where our real life is lived.

To empty your mind is a foreign concept for most people, as we’ve never been taught to do it. Lao Tzu offers us some great advice on how to do it. He suggest that we learn to commune with nature.

You cannot help but to become quiet when you are in the presence of nature. Staring out over the ocean, looking up at the starts in the sky, walking in the woods etc. automatically draws you to silence.

Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.
The way of nature is unchanging. Knowing constancy is insight.

Lao Tzu (c.604 – 531 B.C.)

The natural rhythm of everything that’s alive has an invisible and almost miraculous serenity to it.

A mountain stream, a butterfly in flight, and the ocean, it all has a level of connectedness to us. Ultimately we all emanate from the same source.

We tend to think of nature as “the great outdoors” and although this is very true, nature also refers to you; to your nature, which is just as much part of creation as everything else.

In fact you are God’s most magnificent creation blessed with a consciousness. Lao Tzu reminds us that that our nature, that which we are deep down inside, is stillness.

Each and everyone of us have this eternal unchanging spiritual part of ourselves and as you look back at your life you will see how thousands of things changed in your life, yet deep down inside “you” have always been in there, unchanged.

Lao Tzu reminds us that knowing this “constancy” is insight, which leads us to “see inside”. When you look inside you get to discover you own nature, which is limitless, powerful and at always seeking peace.

“Silence is a source of great strength.”

Lao Tzu (c.604 – 531 B.C.)

Silence is seldom valued as a great virtue, especially in our success driven culture where you always have to have something to offer in your defense. Lao Tzu teaches us that it is silence that is a source of great strength.

This is not your everyday strength that’s associated with dominating, but it’s a strength that dwells up from deep within. Every now and then you meet someone who is very different.

You don’t know what it is but they seem to exude strength and mystery, a silent power. It is only natural to question why some have it, yet most do not. This is the power of silence that Lao Tzu talks about.

From this silent power comes the flow, which leads to our contentment.

Silence is powerful and strong and washes over us like a tidal wave, leaving behind only the truth and reduces all to its core essence. It eliminates scattered emotions and eliminates confusion.

Application And Using This Lessons In Your Everyday Life:

  • First and foremost you have to realize and learn to value silence. It is a source of great strength and will help you to find a sense of inner peace. When you are at peace EVERYTHING in your life works better and ultimately you will not have a true sense of happiness as long as you are not at peace.
  • Consider taking up the practice of meditation. Just dedicate 20 minutes a day to simply “be”, to not do anything and to empty your mind. Preferably 20 minutes when you wake up and 20 minutes before you go to bed. The peace and serenity that this will create in your life will make you so much more effective in ALL of your life, that this 20 minute investment is far more valuable than an extra 20 minutes in the office. Also, if you haven’t got 20 minutes for your self you might want to re-evaluate the priorities of your life.
  • Meditation does not just mean sitting still as this is just one way of meditating. Meditative states can be achieved whilst walking in nature. By walking slowly and synchronizing your breathing with each step and saying, “In” for three steps as you inhale, and “out” for three steps as you exhale. When you see a child playing, a beautiful view or flower, stop and admire while still being aware of your breathing. This helps you find inner balance and keeps you connected with the present.
  • Some people meditate whilst knitting, dancing, chanting, and walking by the seaside or in the woods. It does not matter what you do with your body, as it is your mind that counts. For some the very word meditation conjures up certain religious associations. That’s not what it’s about. It can be as simple as taking 10 minutes to just be by yourself – doing nothing in particular, and focusing your thoughts inwards to whom you are and what your life is about.
  • The mind connects through pictures and the more complete and accurate the picture, then the more complete you can communicate and learn how to understand more than words and listen to your own truth.
  • Concentration is the main skill required for all meditation and it does not matter what you focus on as long as you are able to keep your mind fixed on a specific object or task, letting go of distractions. The simplest form of meditation is to sit quietly and to start paying attention to your breathing. Place your attention fully on your in and out breaths and tune into your body’s most vital natural rhythm.
  • Meditation helps you live from that invisible part which is the center of your being and by noting the thoughts that materialize from your inner self, you wil find the pure love that lives in the power of silence and invite this essence to show itself. This will also allow you to make friends with that “what is not” part of you.
  • When you silence yourself from everyday trivialities, concerns and problems you will find God everywhere. To the world you may seem alone in a room of your own, some deserted shore or a quiet place in the fields but you will know that you are connected with all that is and draw your energy from your source. When you develop your receptiveness you will find that you are able to silence yourself wherever you are and capable of being alone in the crowd, yet connected.
  • When you meditate daily you will find you can stop running after your dreams, there is no need to hurry or stress over anything. Just trust, give thanks to what makes your life unfold exactly and get into the flow of life and it will all come to you. Always going at 100mph is a diversion and what are you racing towards but your own death. You have a unique spiritual journey and fully living and enjoying all of it is where the real joy of life lies. By practicing silence you will get to not only notice more, but also experience more of this incredible journey through life.

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With a passion for spirituality, self discovery, and understanding this life, Neod spends his time musing about what is, what could be and what might come about. After writing for 20 years he's still growing, learning, exploring and sharing with love, joy and compassion.

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