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Introduction to The Peaceful Body – At The Heart Of Lao Tzu

photo: Bruce Fertman

There is another world, but it is in this one. 

W.B. Yeats

Where This Path Begins

Humbled, we get to learn from our own lives. Insight follows experience. Painful experiences reveal sobering insights. We’re forced to see into the truth. If there is a point to pain, this is it. Lao Tzu understands how we hurt ourselves. Knowing how we hurt ourselves is the first step. Knowing how to stop hurting ourselves is the next step, and requires some practice.

The myth that Lao Tzu was born with long white hair, wise from inception, is just that, a myth. Far more likely, Lao Tzu was a man who learned, first hand, how to live more sensibly. Lao Tzu seems, at once, philosopher, pragmatist, mystic, naturalist, political advisor, coach, and the grandfather we always wanted.

Lao Tzu is refreshingly unsentimental, non-idealistic, and unromantic. He’s not spiritual. He’s realistic. He’s impersonal though not aloof. He doesn’t offer us false hope. He takes us beyond the need for hope. Rather than hoping that life will somehow work out, he tells us how life works. He teaches us ways of leading without egotism. He’s masterful at avoiding conflict. Lao Tzu is grown up. He’s the personification of maturity.

Lao Tzu doesn’t tell us what we want to hear; he tells us what we need to hear. He is for us, not against us. He tells us how it is. Lao Tzu’s been around for 2500 years, and will likely be around until the end of time, because appearances change through the centuries, but reality remains much the same, as do people. The Way is as relevant now as it was then.

Lao Tzu gives us a reliable map directing us through rough and ragged terrain. When you’ve lost your bearings, when you don’t know where you are, when you don’t know why you are hurting, why you are bleeding, turn to Lao Tzu. Listen to him. Listen to him until you know exactly where you are, and why. Once you know where you are, you will find your way back to the way. You will find your way from here, to really here.

This mountain of release is such that the ascent’s most painful at the start below;
the more you rise, the milder it will be.
And when the slope feels gentle
to the point that climbing up sheer rock is effortless
as though you were gliding downstream in a boat,
then you will have arrived where this path ends.

Dante

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