Nicolae Tanase: Solala, what is the meaning of life?
Solala Towler: I believe that the meaning of life is very different for each one of us. We each of us have our own unique experience in this lifetime (or lifetimes). In the Taoist way we all walk our own path. At times it may even be difficult to describe to someone else. After all, the very first line in the famous Tao Te Ching says, “The Tao that can be put into words is not the true Tao.” We each have our own expression of Tao, our own unique understanding of what life is about.
Tao Te Ching also tells us in the second chapter not to compare ourselves to others. We all make our own way through this world. But we need to stay humble, stay true to our own sense of the truth, even if it cannot be put into words. It is by letting go of all that is holding us down/back/behind that we can find our way back to Source, to Tao.
Lao Tzu, the author of the Tao Te Ching says:
In the pursuit of worldly knowledge
every day something more is added.
In the pursuit of Tao
every day something is let go.
We need to let go of all the self-created bonds and chains that stop us from being the true shining being that we all are. In Taoism, the word for enlightened being is zhen ren, which means “authentic person.” How can we become that authentic being we really are? How can we free ourselves from the bonds of society and our own limited sense of self so that we experience ourselves as real authentic beings, no longer held back by our past life experiences or what others insist we be like? How do we find the knowledge and strength to set ourselves free? How can we live a life of what Chuang Tzu, another ancient Taoist sage calls, “free and easy wandering”?
Lao Tzu tells us that:
To know others is wisdom
but to know one’s self is enlightenment.
Those who conquer others
require great power.
But to conquer one’s self
requires inner strength.
It takes not only wisdom but great inner strength to learn for ourselves what our own life meaning is. We can certainly benefit from our teachers, both past and present. But we need to walk our own path to Source, our own way upon the Way.
~Solala Towler has been publisher of The Empty Vessel: The Journal of Taoist Philosophy and Practice, since 1993. He has had 14 books published, including Tales From the Tao and Inner Chapters of Chuang Tzu (Watkins) as well as The Tao of Intimacy and Ecstasy and Practicing the Tao Te Ching: 81 Steps On the Way (Sounds True). He travels around the country teaching Qigong, Sound Healing and Tea Ceremony. He also leads trips to China to study in the sacred Taoist mountains of Wudang Shan. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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