Spiritually Speaking: The Tao

By Marcia Bender

There are many “tools” for enlightenment, and most people living in the 21st Century have at least heard of the I Ching. When used to foretell the future, the I Ching consists of the tossing of three coins or a series of sticks of bamboo, and then “reading” the patterns that are formed, gaining insight into the future. Although the Tarot is my “tool” of choice, I have long been fascinated by the I Ching. People who know me well have often heard me say that in the next lifetime I would like to devote my years to the study of I Ching. Yes, it takes at least one lifetime of devotion to become a master of the use of a Tool of Divination!

A warning to all you “seekers:” beware of someone who tells you that they can use all of the tools, The Tarot, I Ching, Runes, etc., with ease and accuracy. Even though we have heard of the I Ching, few know where it came from or even that the knowledge of the I Ching does NOT have to be used for divination. It is for many a way of life and has become a path to inner peace.

I often tell people that there are many Paths to Enlightenment.

In the Western world, we are mere babies in the study of metaphysics when compared with our Eastern Friends. To many, I Ching, also known as the Book of Changes, provides a wealth of oriental philosophy that when understood and practiced can change one’s life. To the Chinese it is as important as the Bible is to Western society, and has been translated more than any book other than the Bible.

This month, I also would like to introduce you to the Tao Te Ching (The Tao). Pronounced “dow,” The Tao was written over 25 centuries ago by revered Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu as a handbook for leaders. In ancient China, to lead wisely meant to live wisely, to seek personal balance and integration with the cycles of nature. Lao Tzu’s teachings find a special importance in our society today as we seek not only peace of mind but peace in our worlds. Lao stated that this is “the mystery beyond all mysteries.” He said that inner peace and well-being can only occur if a person comes into harmony with the “chi,” which is the spiritual energy of the universe. We are constantly searching for new patterns of harmony in everything from holistic health to psychology to physics to ecology to social action. In this quest, many are rediscovering the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching.

Peace is an “inside” job.

Only when we find peace within ourselves can we see more clearly and cooperate with the energies within and around us to have a more peaceful world. The Tao Te Ching teaches that our actions have far-reaching consequences. Ching means a sacred book. Tao means “the way,” “gate,” or “path.” Te means virtue or character. As we put these words together, we find a sacred book that puts us on the path and helps us find the way to Self. The Tao teaches that all life is a process. We and our world are constantly evolving. As we follow our path into the future, we can move from turmoil and imbalance and begin to restore our “oneness” with nature and each other. In finding that “oneness” it is possible to find inner peace.

The Search

I don’t believe that there is one among us who is not, consciously or subconsciously, constantly seeking inner peace.

Most of us can remember when and how the search began. I began my search as a college student in the 60s. My university studies, as well as my social activism, began at Kent State University when it was still “apathy U,” before May of 1970. I worked with a handful of my college friends. We protested, marched, and did our best to work for social change. In those days, most of the demonstrating was for civil rights and equal housing for people of all colors. Today it seems so far away, but then we felt that we were making a difference. In the 70s, we were called “hippies,” and the demonstrating was for peace. I remember a T-shirt I wore that said, “War is not healthy for children and other living things.”

As we demonstrated for the causes of others, I believe that we ignored our personal needs.

We suddenly found ourselves older and still searching for answers. The civil rights movement was advancing, and we were still seeking. The war was over but people were still at war with themselves. This was the era of the “human potential movement” and there were endless groups, classes, workshops, self-help books and Gurus, all willing to show us the “way” to inner peace and harmony. It was during this time that my serious study of metaphysics began. One of the “paths” that I traveled was that of The Tao and it has been bringing me knowledge and peace ever since.

There are many conflicts in our lives and each and every one of them prevents us from finding inner peace.

As physical beings, in physical bodies, we have to face the frustrations of daily life, and if we allow those frustrations to dominate our thoughts, we live in a chaotic state. I am going to ask you to think about the following statements and answer them honestly with a “yes” or “no.”

1. I am at peace with my body.
2. I am at peace in my personal relationship/s.
3. I am at peace with my finances.
4. I am at peace with my family.
5. I am at peace with my career.
6. I am at peace with the world.
7. I am at peace with myself.

If you answered no to any one of those questions (and I would CHALLENGE anyone who said they answered them all with a “yes”) then you have conflict in your life. Whatever the conflicts in our lives, the first step on the path of inner peace is to shift our attitudes.

According to the Tao, the situation is not what matters.

The way we perceive it and handle it is all that is important in the end. Most people fear change and conflict, but the follower of The Tao realizes that it is natural and that life constantly goes through cycles of change. The Tao encourages us to be spontaneous, to follow our natural inclinations, to keep on learning, and to watch the changing patterns within and around us. It teaches that we must accept ourselves as we are and that we must not waste our energy in self-criticism. We must be centered and not upset by the judgments of others. Criticism of others will not disturb us when we know who we are. We should be detached and non judgmental as well.

If we live by the Tao, we live with the courage of our convictions, transcend social norms, and are not afraid to think for ourselves.

Remember, Knowledge is the Greatest Power, so Walk in the Light.

Marcia began her career as a school teacher, working with preschool through inner city high school students. She has worked with all aspects of Metaphysics for over 40 years and specializes in Tarot and Numerology. Marcia’s clients and students are in every state and throughout Europe. Marcia has taught over 400 students to “read” the Tarot for the purpose of self-guidance and to use the powerful symbolism of the Tarot to reach higher levels of spirituality. Her column, Spiritually Speaking, originally ran for 8 years in Attitudes Magazine. Email marlou2000@aol.com

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