Open Heart

Chapter 10 – According to Our Nature – Tao Te Ching, interpretation by William Martin

Can we embrace both the acceptable
and unacceptable parts of ourselves?
Can we breathe as easily as innocent babies?
Can we see the world clearly
and without judgment?
Can we act with loving-kindness
yet remain unknown and unsung?
Can we watch all things come and go,
yet remain undisturbed?
Can we accept our countless thoughts and opinions,
yet not take them seriously?

If we can do this we are acting
according to the virtue that is naturally ours;
nourishing all things, but possessing nothing;
enjoying all things, but clinging to nothing;
working diligently,
but claiming credit for nothing;
growing is wisdom, but controlling nothing.

Recently, while listening to the Plum Village chant, “Namo’avolo” I had an experience that is still too new and too personal to share in detail. But my heart opened. It wasn’t an intellectual breakthrough, it was a breaking of my heart. I realized that my whole life has been an attempt to armor against being vulnerable, against being “weak.” I have avoided “open-hearted” spiritual practices and kept my mind searching for more rational, intellectual, and armored paths. My ways of approaching Zen and Taoism have been precisely this.

The crux of this opening is the realization that I no longer have to be assured of being on the “winning side.” Humanity may crush its open-hearted members under a load of fear and illusion. But now I realize that, it doesn’t matter! I am not asked to save humanity. No one is asked to save humanity. “Humanity” may never become what it could have been, but – I want to become that! That is all that matters – my own humanity, my own heart, my own soul. I don’t want to succumb to a heart closed in fear and armored in rationality. If some Divine authority were to tell me, “Humanity will not, as a species, wake up and become what it could have been. It will perish.” I would still choose the open-hearted path and live as fully into that existence as I am able.

This is a raw and new sensation and I am sure my psyche will hurry in an attempt to repair the armor, but it’s too late. I’m no longer afraid, not like I have been. I’ve set my direction; and however I practice Taoism, Buddhism, shamanism, or any other “ism” from now on, it will be to keep my heart opening into ever more spaciousness and freedom from fear.

6 thoughts on “Open Heart

  1. I’ve watched this video three times now. There is something very special in bearing witness to the combination of your words and the energy.


    1. It’s been an interesting few days, Alex. I’m just resting and waiting to see what might be next. Blessings to you.


  2. A deep bow to your beautiful open and spacious heart.
    The longest journey I ever made is the one you described today and the one we share:
    the 18 inches from my head to my heart
    Wisdom and Compassion together our refuge from the need to feel “safe”


    1. It is indeed a long journey, Tom. And I find I have to keep retracing my steps. My heart is more familiar now, but my head is so used to defining the territory that I need continuous reminders of where “home” actually is. Deep gratitude for the reminders that keep dropping me down that 18 inches.


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