Verse 5 "Neutral Spaces - Meaning of Home"
The Way is neutral and treats all equally.
As does the teacher who sees all as straw dogs.
The teacher and the The Way are the same.
There is no favor or disfavor given to anyone or anything.
The space between heaven and earth is infinite
Like bellows, the more it moves, the more it gives, Endless!
We must learn to hold onto the centre,
Listen more, speaking less, being still.
What is, is within.
Be Free … And you will find home.
This is an exciting piece of wisdom, that if we can just get a glimpse into its meaning we start to relax and realize that we all belong, and we all belong together in oneness and impartiality. Where is that place in the universe you may ask? It’s right here, right now! It’s not on tomorrow’s do list, or in yesterday’s photographs. You're standing in it! Yet sometimes it’s so hard to see, feel, and live out.
If we reflect on the previous 4 verses, we’re beginning to see the amazing and wonderful place we live in and have the opportunity to be part of. The fact that the universe is ever-creating shows us the duality of our existence and a better way of seeing and viewing our part in it. It will, if we allow rather than crave, untangle our life so that we can see the mystery of non-attached oneness with all. But this may sound like a big call considering the reality of our world right now.
Now I know that we can sometimes be in place in life when opportunity just seems so far away. Being in a bad relationship, no financial security, poor health, and the list can go on. Sometimes it seems like the world just keeps throwing us situation after situation that seems insurmountable. As I believe Winston Churchill once said when describing history: “One damn thing after another” As I sit here, the whole world has been thrown into turmoil with the COVID pandemic. People are losing their livelihoods, others have experienced death and poor health of family and friends, and everyone is under pressure to follow the rules laid out by governments and health specialists. In some parts of the world people are homeless and living in very difficult situations, sleeping on the street and in refuges, lack of food and water and basic sanitation needs. It just screams at you every time you watch the news that the world is a terrible place and in some parts of the world right now it’s not great.
As I write this passage, my main business (entertainment industry) has just lost its main contract so 80% of my income has gone (if and when we are allowed to even get back to work). My arm is in a sling after a major reconstruction and I'll be in rehab for five months getting reuse of my right arm… and yes, I'm right-handed. I’m not looking for pity but rather trying to say that life sure is full of surprises. How did I get here? That’s right, we have to find a place that we can call home no matter where we are in life. A foundation that moves with us helping to untangle the knots and blunt those sharp situations that keep coming around time and time again.
This is where the first five verses set the scene for the rest of the TTC. Rather than seeing all through our self-imposed filters, dualities and limitations, we can instead adopt a style of thinking that sees the endless opportunities around us, and seek out non-attached oneness with whatever is happening.
So, what’s a ‘straw dog’ I hear you ask. It turns out that in ancient times when animal sacrifices were carried out, to not end up sacrificing all the animals in the village, a straw dog was substituted, to ensure that the ritual continued. Effectively a straw dog was seen as worthless or having no real value, but it was substituted for a live animal. The Way... values 'all' (the 10000 things) the same as the straw dog which was considered worthless. This may be puzzling when looking upon the endless beauty of the universe but remember, everything in the known universe comes in and out of existence. Even our own planet Earth will one day disappear. The Way... is more than all the parts of the universe, and we are part of The Way. It flows in us and around us, through everyone that lived, is living and will ever live. It is endless, like bellows – the more it moves, the more it gives.
I believe this verse is about viewing all with neutrality. All things are of equal value as everything will come and go. We, in this world of 10000 things, place so much value on the material items and not enough on the intangible endless mystery of our relationship with ourselves and others. I put ourselves first here for a reason. We don't give enough time to ourselves in this busy complicated world to really explore the person within. Did you know that you are amazing? Have you ever told yourself that? Everyone is amazing. How often do you tell others that they are amazing? Everyone's the same... everyone is neutrally amazing! Weird term I know, but once again it’s the internal filtering and judgements that stops us from really exploring the reality of our life here on planet Earth.
How do we get to this place of neutrality? It begins with small steps. Like any great journey it’s one step at a time. I suggest you start where I started, small quiet times where we stop and just listen. Listen to the birds outside, follow your breath as it comes in out of your body, feel the sensation of the life running throughout your limbs. Notice I haven't mentioned anything about thinking here. If we place our attention on these other sensations around us, the idea is to slow down or quiet the continuous chatter in your head and be present. Thoughts are usually always judging and filtering our world into good or bad, happy, sad etc... We want to get away from this continuous state of thinking to a place of neutrality. What’s happening right Now? ‘Nowness’ if there is such a word. Your thoughts are either thinking about yesterday or planning for tomorrow. It’s really hard to think of now. The best way to achieve this is to observe what is happening in this very moment.
Now, don't try to stop thinking all together at first, but you can at first slow your thinking and quieten it down. I like to imagine that my thoughts have a volume control, and I imagine myself turning down the volume to allow the sensations of my body or the sounds around me come to the fore. Just start with a few minutes a day (say 5 minutes) then as you feel more comfortable, you can increase it and build this routine into your life.
Notice I haven't mentioned the 'M' word here because some people have a problem with the concept of mediation. Let’s call it ‘still time’ or ‘quiet time’ or whatever you like, but this practice is part of removing those life-long filters and judgements. Now it’s not going to happen over-night, but it will start to release you from a way of thinking that impedes your progress towards a more contented life.
As I’ve developed this practice, I found that with time (and that time is different for everyone) that my responses to stressful situations have changed. If we can learn to carry this practice into our everyday life, seeing every situation as neutral, we begin to see that it’s not the situation but our response to it that carries the highs and lows of emotions. This doesn’t mean that we become emotionally nonfunctional but realize sooner rather than later that 'This too shall pass'.
Once we have this foundation, we take it with us. It’s our rock we stand on no matter what is happening in our life. It doesn't mean bad things won’t happen… they will! But we can retreat to a quiet place and see the mystery in this life and the opportunities in and around what lies before us. It’s our Home. I truly believe that we can create a foundation through stillness within and also through a practice of gratitude.
Thank You for Verse 5.
1) Thank You for the amazing gift of ourselves and all those around us.
2) Thank You for the endlessness of creation that gives and gives.
3) Thank You for giving me a home within myself to be still and be free.
(C) Copyright 2022 Written by Mark Wattis. All Rights Reserved. No duplication without permission.