It has had several editions with four different publishers: • Random House in 1974 – the original edition • Earth Heart 1997 – with many new photos • Amber Lotus 2002 – a reprint of the Earth Heart edition • Amber Lotus 2008 – more new photos – printed by mistake on uncoated paper • Hay House 2014 – more new photos, updated gender-neutral text, and a smaller format.
Soon a fifth publisher, DaoDog Press, publisher of the Tao magazine, The Empty Vessel, will do yet another new edition — stay in touch for updates on this.
It has been a cloudy, gray, calm, not too cold (25F), Valentine’s Sunday here in Central Vermont. The past few days and this morning I’ve spent a lot of time at my computer — working on my blog, facebook, and website, and creating an article and an ad for The Empty Vessel – a Tao magazine.
Then about 2pm I felt stuck and really BORED with this covid-limited world we live in now. Time for either a nap or a walk. Walking won out.
I plodded along the road by #10 Pond — glad to have a good walking place but still bored. Thinking of what my friend Esther Thompson Turner said this morning on Facebook about wanting companionship and finding a bit of it with Miles, her small polar bear made of wire and LED lights — better than nothing.
As I walked along I met a neighbor and her dog. We visited a bit which was good.
Then as I walked on, suddenly I felt the urge to invite ancestors to walk with me, and immediately there seemed to be with me two women I know who are now in the spirit world. On my right was Hansine Lyberth from Greenland, and on my left was my Mother. As they tucked their arms into mine I felt a smile and a little laugh emerge.
Both of these women are ones who’d enjoyed walking during their time in physical bodies. I sensed their delight at once again feeling what it is like to walk in nature — this time through me as I walked briskly along. And I delighted in their companionship.
We walked about a mile that way — from where I’d met my neighbor up to the end of the pond and back to about where the women had come to me, where I quite suddenly I found myself thanking them and letting them fly away back to wherever they’d come from.
I finished my walk home as myself, but no longer bored.
Was this “real?” Did I “imagine” all this?
Somehow the answer to those questions is irrelevant. What was real was a the shift in my mood — for whatever “reason.”
So try this yourself — invite ancestors to walk with you — maybe you find yourself smiling as I did.
In addition to our blood ancestors we also have many spiritual ancestors. We all need our ancestors, our roots, even if we have never met them. Even though the Ancestors do not live in the modern world, there is basic wisdom they have that does not change, wisdom that helps in any world. There is vast wisdom that had accumulated by those who have gone before us and who care about us.
In the Eskimo tradition our ancestors are the helpers of The Great One. After the ancestors’ souls travel to the Creator they can return to help us when we call them. They dance in the Northern Lights. I think of how Angaangaq says that the Ancestors are no farther away than the reach of our hand, but we have not learned to touch them.
The traditional yin-yang (feminine/dark-masculine/light) symbol below shows a bit of yin in yang and of yang in yin.
A phrase that appears often in Tao Te Ching is “the ten-thousand things,” as in this excerpt from that book:
Tao begot one One begot two Two begot three And three begot the ten-thousand things. The ten-thousand things carry yin and embrace yang They achieve harmony by combining these forces — Tao Te Ching, Chapter 42
This image below, Yin, Yang and the Ten-Thousand Things, came to me in meditation around 1988. It shows yin-yang opening up and bringing forth their rainbow children, all of creation, the “ten-thousand things.”
Expanding on that traditional symbol and rather than seeing yin and yang as opposites, we can realize a co-creative balance of masculine yang and feminine yin in our lives, so that their children, the rainbow of our creativity, the ten-thousand things, can be born.
Tao may be found not only in the undivided ground of being, nor solely in the polarity of yin and yang, dark and light, dynamic and receptive, but also everywhere in the full rainbow spectrum of the ten-thousand things: all the myriad ways the un-nameable whole is divided into discrete beings. —from page 16 in the book A Rainbow of Tao
On the facing page in that book I placed this photo that seemed like the traditional yin/yang symbol made manifest in the world of nature.
Here in the West, language structures our world into objects and actions. We have nouns and we have verbs. Among the nouns we make a distinction between the “whats” and the “whos,” between inanimate things and living beings.
Translations from Chinese usually treat Tao as a noun; however, Tao cannot be so neatly categorized. It is both noun and verb; it is neither noun nor verb. Nor is it easily classified either as a “who” or as a “what.”
A defining statement of our Western culture is found in the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the Word . . .”
Yet Tao Te Ching begins with a starkly contrasting line that roughly translates as, “The Tao that can be put into words is not the real Tao.”
Mindful of the paradox of using words and images to approach Tao, I invite you to enter this book with a spirit of adventure. Explore with me this Tao that has over the past few decades come from the Far East into our Western world.