The Way fills the entire world
It is everywhere that people are
But people are unable to understand this.
When you are released by this one word:
You reach up to the heavens above;
You stretch down to the earth below;
You pervade the nine inhabited regions.
What does it mean to be released by it?
The answer resides in the calmness of the mind.
When your mind is well ordered, your sense are well ordered.
When your mind is calm, your senses are calmed.
What makes them well ordered is the mind;
What makes them calm is the mind.
By means of the mind you store the mind.
Within the mind there is yet another mind.
That mind within the mind: it is an awareness that precedes words.
Only after there is awareness does it take shape;
Only after it takes shape is there a word.
Only after there is a word is it implemented.
Only after it is implemented is there order.
Without order, you will always be chaotic.
If chaotic, you die. (1)
The early Taoist classic Inward Training (Nei-yeh) (1) comes out of an oral tradition in which teachers gave their pupils verses to learn and study. Hence the emphatic and somewhat repetitive flavour of the text. Teacher pupil relationships of this kind are very ancient in China, likely emerging out of an indigenous Chinese shamanism (2).
Translator and editor Harold Roth suggests that the ‘one word’ that releases people is Tao itself, used as the focus of meditation, somewhat in the manner of mantra work. When the mind is calm, another mind becomes available – the mind within the mind, that precedes words and takes shape prior to their emergence.
Tao, in this understanding, is experienced as a foundational and pervasive cosmic process in which we can centre ourselves. The recommended practice helps us to cleanse the doors of perception, and achieve that centring. My experience of contemplative inquiry, and the Druid training that preceded it, is that ‘inward training’ works.
(1) Roth, Harold D. (1999) Original Tao: ‘Inward Training’ and the foundations of Taoist mysticism New York, NY: Columbia University Press