Activity is essential, but exhausting,
And its importance is only on the surface.
Withdraw into Tao at the end of the day.
Returning is renewal.
Each day is filled with activity. We rush around from meeting to meeting; we make all sorts of arrangements for the future. Such doings are important, but they are not all that there is in life. Even as we engage in them, we must remember that all human endeavors are temporary and provisional.
We cannot allow our accomplishments to divorce us from what is actually happening in the world. It is imperative that we withdraw to reflect upon the day’s events and collect ourselves for the continuation of our path. There is no need to go to a temple, a sacred spot, or a special room. We do not need elaborate ritual. All we need is a simple and natural turning within.
This is why followers of Tao always use the word ‘returning.’ They recognize the necessity of activity in life, but they also recognize the need to return to Tao. In Tao is the source of all things, and in the source one finds the renewal that one needs to go on with life. This back-and-forth movement between the source and the activity of life is the movement of all things.
Two ducks nestled in lake-side grass.
Both marked by the same brilliant purple at the wing.
Water provides food, bath, and play,
What need do they have for scholarship?
Animals need no schooling. They are perfect, without any need for long instruction. They know what to do by instinct and example. Tao is always there for them. It sustains them and nurtures them. There is no need for them to be specially aware of Tao or to study it : They have no rational consciousness to separate them from Tao.
It is only humanity that constantly divorces itself from Tao. We therefore need methods of reintegration. If we could go beyond the interfering sense of the self, then we would know Tao in as constant and carefree a manner as ducks.
“Forget learning,” say those who follow Tao, but what they don’t append is that you must first have learning before you can forget it. If you would be unencumbered by the weight of knowledge, then you must return to a state of deep intuitiveness. This is not the same as mere selfish behavior — just doing what you feel like doing — because your actions are likely to be dictated more by lusts, obsessions, compulsions, and habits than anything natural. Only through the clarification of spiritual training will you reach the ground of deep intuition and the freedom that it affords.