Tao Wisdom – Don’t take Sides

light landscape sky sunset

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Tao doesn’t take sides

It gives birth to both good and evil.

The Master doesn’t take sides;

she welcomes both saints and sinners.

The Tao is like a bellows:

it is empty yet infinitely capable.

The more you use it, the more it produces;

the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

Hold on to the center.*


Let go of fear, anger and judgments that keep us separate and in conflict.

Connect to the center and infinite wisdom beyond words.

More than ever, Find Your Middle Ground


*Mitchell, Stephen. Tao Te Ching (Perennial Classics) . Harper Perennial. Kindle Edition.

Inspiration – the Source

I came across this translation of the Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell, and am really enjoying the fresh language and approach to the wisdom of Lao Tzu. A part of me also wonders, could it be that I have changed over time, and it is more than fresh words that open up new insight….

Let me know which version resonates with you today.

Tao Source


“Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return.

Each separate being in the universe
returns to the common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.

If you don’t realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.

Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.”

~ Lao Tzu*

* Mitchell, Stephen. Tao Te Ching (Perennial Classics) (Kindle Locations 373-383). Harper Perennial.

Here is a translation of the same verse 16 by John Braun Jr..

“Seek the reality of emptiness and stillness,
The great constants of existence.
Though life abounds, its creations rise and fall.

Eventually all return, in their own way, to Tao.
To return to Tao is to embrace stillness,
The relentless way of nature.
The flow of nature does not change.
To see its constancy is to know the intricacies of the ordinary,
Revealing patterns of the grand.

To ignore this constant is to mistake the eternal for the mundane, Bringing unharmonious selfish action and discord,
Pathologies to humanity.
Accepting the constant means opening the mind.
This leads to compassion and impartiality,
A respect for all that Tao provides and takes away,
And an understanding that all return to the ultimate reality of Tao.
Life is fleeting, Tao is constant:
An eternal emptiness, full to bursting.”

~ Lao Tzu*

*Braun Jr., John; Tzu, Lao; von Bargen, Julian; Warkentin, David. Tao Te Ching (Kindle Locations 269-284). . Kindle Edition.

More Yin and Less Yang

calmness close up closed eyes flora

Photo by Alina Vilchenko on Pexels.com

We live in an active, alert and agitated Yang dominated world. I’ve been noticing how people respond differently to this in WordPress.

The Yang aspects of ourselves want to acknowledge and state our position in order to lead or enlighten others. The Yin or feminine aspects of ourselves seek to understand and bring support and help.

Today, we need less charismatic leadership with an authoritarian fix-it attitude, and more understanding and compassion to bring us together in a harmony rather than conflict.

I’m not talking politics… but notice how this fits in so beautifully with the Tao philosophy and the wisdom of the Dalai Lama.

When you consider writing your next post, take a moment to pause and reflect on whether this will  add to the Yang aspect of the world, or support the Yin. Will it bring us to more understanding and sense of balance?

We can all make a difference by choosing our response in relationship to others and these times.

This weekend I am teaching the first module of a Yin Yoga Teachers Training program at Hummingbird Yoga and Massage in Bryn Mawr. Just as in the world, I believe we need from Yin in our yoga practice and teaching.

May we all find inner harmony and bring more Yin into the world.


Inspiration – Knowing

This repost just about sums it up for me today. Its one of my favorite passages from the Tao Te Ching.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Knowing the world is intelligent.
Knowing yourself is enlightenment.

Bending the world to your will takes force.
Willing yourself to bend is true strength.

Succeeding in the world yields riches.
Being content with what is yields wealth.

Apply Tao to the physical world and you will have a long life.
See past the physical world to the enduring presence of Tao and death will lose its meaning.”*


New to Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching? Read more about it here and here.

* Translation by Braun Jr., John; Tzu, Lao; von Bargen, Julian; Warkentin, David (2012-12-02). Tao Te Ching (Kindle Locations 492-499). . Kindle Edition.

Tao Wisdom – Vision


© Publicdomainphotos – ID 89902173 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Words worth pausing with today.

The person who uses only the vision of his eyes is conditioned purely by what he sees. But it’s the intuition of the spirit that perceives reality. The wise have known for a long time that what we know through our eyes isn’t equal to the intuition of our spirit. Yet most people rely only on what they see, and lose themselves in external things only. Isn’t that sad?*

~ Chuang Tzu

*Forstater, Mark. The Tao: The Living Wisdom Series (Kindle Locations 494-497). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Mark Forstater, in his exploration of the Chuang Tzu’s writings continues:

“Our culture isn’t comfortable with deep subjective experience, in which artistic, religious and mystical feelings are found. We’re often wary of exploring this interior life, because we’re afraid of what may be lurking there: fears and insecurities, repressed feelings of sexuality or anger. This is because the subjective life is home to the unconscious, that powerful, dark and hidden side of our mind, which is also the source of our creativity.

Often scientists and others who are more comfortable with objective knowledge forget that creativity not only generates artistic and mystical feelings but also includes their own scientific creativity, as the career of Albert Einstein makes very clear. Einstein’s important discoveries were all made first in his mind, through subjective unconscious reflection. Only later did he go to the trouble of testing them ‘objectively’. We have lived in a materialistic, scientific culture for so long that objective knowledge is king, and the subjective is denigrated and considered suspect and unreliable.” *

* Forstater, Mark. The Tao: The Living Wisdom Series (Kindle Locations 477-485). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


Coming from Yin

Middle ground moment

I took this photo yesterday morning after breakfast, as Don was enjoying his coffee along with birdsong, rustles of the leaves and a slowly rising and warming sun. (If you zoom in, I’m sure you will see a contented smile on his face)

Finding our Middle Ground like this is essential for our whole being and balance.

Here’s an other perspective the Tao:

“Zen and Daoist philosophy often refers the art of doing and non-doing; specifically, the art of knowing when doing is required (yang) and when non-doing is required (yin). This is the greatest skill one can learn in the art of living life in balance.

The energy that arises in the moment from the deepest yin is a desire or impulse to ‘act’ (yang). Only right actions can come from this place. Further, right actions can only be the best and most supportive actions for the spiritual evolution of all beings. These can also be described as actions that cause no harm to others or oneself. They come like messages sent from the deepest place to call you into ‘doing’ or ‘thinking’ something in order to bring them into manifestation for the benefit of all. They come from a place of surrender, a place where you can let the mind become insignificant and, instead, focus your attention on the observation of sensations on the body and the space in which all things seem to occur.” *

When we take time to pause, it supports us in taking right action. Now that’s something to reflect and act upon.

Let us come from Yin.



* Hetherington, Michael. The Little Book of Yin: Cultivating More Stillness, Gentleness and Healing into Our Daily Lives (Kindle Locations 317-322). . Kindle Edition.


Potter and Space

The potter knows she plays with clay but works with space,
For the use of the bowl is its empty space.
It is the same with the room,
Made whole by the emptiness between the walls.
Remember that something is not everything.
Nothing is also essential.*

~ Lao Tzu

Without space there would be no substance. Substance is not everything, although our mind likes to think it so.

I remember a time when I was painting watercolors, and learning about negative space. This is the space or background that the subject is set against.  Imagine choosing a tree to paint, and rather than painting in the tree, you paint the space around it.

watercolor trees

Source: Pinterest

Space must be considered in order to allow the subject to shine forth from the paper. Its brings harmony to the piece.

When we consider that nothing is essential, it turns inside out how we see things. I know it also reminds me how limited our thinking mind can be.

Nothing is essential.



*Braun Jr., John; Tzu, Lao; von Bargen, Julian; Warkentin, David. Tao Te Ching (Kindle Locations 211-215). . Kindle Edition.

Your Choice



“One side of a ridge is cold and foggy,

The other side is hot and dry.

Just be choosing where you stand,

You alter your destiny.”

~ Deng Ming-Dao Tao Meditations


We make choices every minute that create the pattern of our lives.

From where we call home, to where we stand on an issue, matters.

Life is a one way journey, and there is no going back.

Let your wisdom guide you forward.

Destiny awaits.


Let Life Be Like Yin Yoga

letting go in yin yoga

I am back from nine days of Yin Yoga teacher training and retreat at my beloved Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. It has been a time of learning, of support, of challenge and of exploration. It opened my body, mind, and yes … my heart 💛

Let life be like Yin Yoga – Lean into it.

The foundations of Yin Yoga are rooted in the Taoist tradition. It is about finding wholeness and harmony in tune with the constant flow of yin and yang in nature and in all beings. Yin is the stable, unmoving, feminine, receptive, cool and hidden aspect of things; yang is the changing, mobile, masculine, hot and active aspect.

One cannot exist without the other.

Yoga in the west is Yang oriented, focusing on building strength, engaging muscles, movement and action.
Yin Yoga is the counterpart to this. It is a slow deep practice where poses are held for longer and the muscles relax. The deeper connective tissues of the body awaken, which allows for increased flexibility and prevents rigidity that comes with aging. The poses also stimulate the Chi and Prana energy in the body, allowing the practitioner to become calmer and more focused, and the body to be nourished.

It is a practice of paying attention, letting go, and developing the witness to whatever comes up in the physical body, mental body, emotions and breath.
By leaning in and surrendering to what is beyond resistance, the path to acceptance and peace opens up.

In this place of stillness, we meet ourselves and begin to understand how we deal with the pleasure and pain in our bodies and in life.

Each practice strengthens our entire being to allow for deep inquiry and acceptance. To find our Middle Ground.


* Nature’s Rhythms

ocean at night

Source: Pinterest

“There is both in Nature and in ourselves, an indissoluble unity of body, mind and spirit. Within this unity, however, there is always the ceaseless interplay of Yin and Yang and the constant flow of the Five Elements in everything that we find around us. Both patterns exist together in Nature and are there for us to observe.

There is no mystery in this. When we watch the evening tide come in, we sometimes look at the shimmering brilliance of wave after wave tumbling in to the shore (yang energy) and at other times we are hypnotized by the gradual rise of the swell (yin energy). Both aspects are there together within the one moment, and a thousand other aspects if we could really see the full beauty of Nature’s rhythms.”

~ J.R. Worsley

I was entranced by this paragraph in Professor J R Worsley’s primer on Classical Five Element Acupuncture. I have regular acupuncture sessions with fellow yogi Kyle Williams in Media. Thank you Kyle for lending me the book to help me understand the Five Elements and the Officials in Acupuncture.

It has inspired me to learn more, and to explore the natural balance of Yin and Yang and the movement of energy through the body in the practice of Yoga…




* Tao Inspiration ☯ – Follow the Current

River of Life

River Of Life by Heather Hennick

Tao is the unknowable fundamental of the universe.

Follow its current,

And it is the source of joy and wonder.

Fight against it,

And it is merely a refuge.

Eloquent words and admirable deeds yield profit,

But those lacking such things, do they not come from Tao as well?

Your greatest gift is to be a conduit for Tao.*

~ Lao Tzu


The last line really resonated today. To be a conduit of the goodness and wholeness of our very nature would be the best gift for all of us to share.


*Braun Jr., John; Tzu, Lao; von Bargen, Julian; Warkentin, David (2012-12-02). Tao Te Ching (Kindle Locations 836-842). . Kindle Edition.

* Embrace Tao ☯

igniting nature

Embrace Tao and you will move effortlessly with the world.

At peace, you will generate peace.

The pleasures of life seem emphasized against their backdrop,

But the ubiquitous presence of Tao

Is encompassing to the extent that it goes unnoticed.

It is not seen with eyes.

It is not heard with ears.

It can never be exhausted with use.*

~ Lao Tzu


May we bring attention to that which is not noticed, but ignites us all ☯


Braun Jr., John; Tzu, Lao; von Bargen, Julian; Warkentin, David (2012-12-02). Tao Te Ching (Kindle Locations 506-513). . Kindle Edition.