Returning to The Source “Tao Te Ching” verse 16 for Artists

black ink sumi-e painting used to illustrate Returning to The Source blog article.

Verse 16*

Attain the ultimate emptiness
Hold on to the truest tranquility
The myriad things are all active
I therefore watch their return
Everything flourishes; each returns to its root
Returning to the root is called tranquility
Tranquility is called returning to one’s nature
Returning to one’s nature is called constancy
Knowing constancy is called clarity
Not knowing constancy, one recklessly causes trouble
Knowing constancy is acceptance
Acceptance is impartiality
Impartiality is sovereign
Sovereign is Heaven
Heaven is Tao
Tao is eternal
The self is no more, without danger
What a beautiful verse. It reminds us of something that somehow we tend to dismiss and even fight against, forgetting that it is what life is all about – the understanding that everything in life is circular; seasons, planets, all the living things, including us. We come from the source, expand, proliferate, and then go back to that origin….the Tao.
Understanding of it comes to us when we are in a meditative state. We get glimpses of it when we create, when we lose our Selves in the process of it. Have you felt that place? It is like a space of complete tranquillity and clarity. It feels like the source is creating through you. Sometimes, you wonder how your artwork came about….
Lao Tzu’s advice is to really dwell in this place, to not only mentally, but experientially understand the cyclic nature of life. With that understanding we free ourselves from fear, striving for fame and possesions , but enjoy what there is for us in that moment while we are creating our masterpiece of/and our life….flow with the natural… the Tao.
I couldn’t help but do an Enso painting. The calligraphy reads “Seeking the Way” …..Seeking the Tao
* I am using  Translation by Derek Lin as examples of verses, but there are many different translations with different nuances and sensibilities of the translators.

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