Unity & Taoism Part 1- Rev. Deb

Midweek Faith Lift

April 17, 2024

Unity and Taoism, Part 1

Rev. Deb Hill-Davis


Spiritual Passages

April 5, 2024

The Little Shop of Kindness -The Power of Love

           Thousands of miles away from the violence that threatened her family, a 16-year-old girl sits in a wooden chair trying on a pair of colorful Converse sneakers, breaking into a smile when they turn out to be a perfect fit. Like most teenagers, Kamilu Lozano loves shopping. But as a migrant who fled with her family from Peru to New York City with almost nothing, simple pleasures like picking out a new pair of shoes have become a luxury. It’s at the Little Shop of Kindness in the city’s Upper East Side neighborhood that migrants like Kamilu get a rare opportunity to choose their own clothes from racks instead of desperately digging through donation boxes.


          “It feels like we’re finally being treated like human beings,” Kamilu says, lamenting how difficult it’s been adjusting to life in a new city where many people regard migrants as a burden. “We forgot what it was like to be treated normally again — like we’re just normal people.”


         ."The marvels of God are not brought forth from oneself. Rather, it is more like a chord, a sound, that is played. The tone does not come out of the chord itself but rather through the touch of the musician. We are the lyre and harp of God's kindness" - St. Hildegard of Bingen


           Affirmative Prayer for today:  Holy Spirit may I be an instrument of kindness, generosity and love in this troubled word.  May my words and actions resonate with the beautiful harmonies of universal love. Amen


This is a great story to illustrate the energy of Taoism, our next world religion to consider because Taoism is all about our actions and how we show up in the world not about creeds, dogmas or beliefs.  It is instead a way of living that is anchored in the writings of Lao Tzu, which are compiled in a book called Tao Te Ching.  This book consists of 79 statements, which embrace the Perennial Philosophy that we spoke of at the beginning of this series, the Universal Wisdom that is at the heart of all spiritual teachings.  It is the wisdom that can be lived and recognized but cannot be fully described or expressed except in actions of deep and abiding love.  It is a mystery and Taoism embraces the mystery.


Lao Tzu is considered the primary wisdom teacher of Taoism, which began in China in about the 6th Century BCE.  Like all great spiritual leaders there are many stories about his birth and early life, none of which are actually confirmed.  His name simply means “old master” and all the sayings in the Tao hold the energy of mystery, of holding the polarities of life, the opposites, which can be so perplexing.  The Tao begins with the words “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.”  This puts us squarely on a path of living into discernment of how the Eternal Truths guide us and impact our lives. 


Here is how Chapter 1 of the Tao reads in the Chartwell Books, 2015  translation:


The Dao that we can comprehend is not the eternal and Infinite Dao

The names that we give are not the eternal and infinite names.

Void is how we name the origin of the Cosmos.

Amplitude is how we name the creation of the things that fill it

Thus it is in Void that we can contemplate the scope of the Dao

And in Amplitude, its subtleties

These two have different names but a common source

And both are mysteries

They are mystery upon mystery

Gateways to the infinite mutability of the Dao


The essential energy of the Tao is to embrace and live into the mystery, which is so artfully expressed in the very first Chapter. There is no “God” as such in Taoism, just the Eternal Truth which is unnamable, much like the “I am that I am” of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Word or Logos of the Christian Scripture, or the Divine Substance as described by Charles Fillmore.  All of these embrace the Divine as a mystery, which is both immanent or readily present and available and at the same time transcendent, or greater than we are.  Unity, as a mystical version of Christianity, which is also practical, has much in common with Taoism.


An essential concept of the Tao is that of the creative process or “trinity” as Charles Fillmore called it.  He described it as “Mind, Idea, Expression” which is how all of what we see comes into being.  We embrace many “trinities” on the spiritual path and the Tao does as well.  Chapter 42 of the Tao Te Ching reads like this:

The Tao begot one.

One begot two.

Two begot three.

And three begot ten thousand things.


The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang.

They achieve harmony by combining these forces.

And it is from these 10,000 things that we are ensnared in the energy of pleasure and pain, seeking constantly to reconcile the two, to find what the Buddhists call the “Middle Way.”  The Way, paradoxically is the same portal through which duality enters the world.  We call it good/evil, dark/light, hot/cold, female/male and so on.  In Taoism, this is represented by the Yin/Yang symbol, which represents the wholeness of these energies.  And each part of the symbol contains a small part of the other half signifying that we all contain some of the opposite energy.  How to embrace that reality and live into that wholeness is the Path or the Way.  This is consistent with the Fillmore understanding of the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine.  The Yin is the more passive, receptive, dark, earthy, womblike female energy and the yang is the active male principle of light and heat and action.  Sounds like Unity, eh??


Like the symbol, we each contain both Yin and Yang energies. The intention is for the follower of the Way of the Tao to find a path of living that demonstrates essential goodness and true spiritual power that is inherent in each of us.  In that intention, it is very much in alignment with Unity principles and our version of “Practical Christianity.”  A basic belief in Taoism is that nothing is “wrong” and nothing needs “fixing.”  We each have everything within us that we need to find our inner light and follow the Way.  That basic belief is in full alignment with Unity teachings.  There is nothing essentially bad or wrong, it just is.  Our task is to recognize what expresses the highest and clearest demonstration of love and then do it!


When we see separation, then the harmony of the Universe disappears.  The second chapter of the Tao Te Ching says it this way:

When people see some things as beautiful,

Other things become ugly.

When people see some things as good,

Other things become bad.


Being and non-being create each other.

Difficult and easy support each other.

Long and short define each other.

Before and after follow each other.


The energy of the Tao flows through each of us and brings us back to that Center, or what we have called the Observer self that can find the balance and hold the opposites. 


It is interesting to note that the message of Jesus was for us to continually seek a new way of considering how things really are, forgiving, restoring harmony and reconciling opposing energies.  In the gospels of Mark and Luke Jesus says it this way: “New wine demands fresh skins or otherwise we lose both the wine and the container,” as Jesus said (see Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37–38). Practices, more than anything else, create a new container for us, one that will protect the new wine we wish to take in, the new wine of peace, love, and unity with one another, a consciousness beyond separation.


In his April 10 Blog, “Cultivating a New Heart” Richard Rohr describes the intent of spiritual practices such as prayer and meditation:


Such practices allow us to know Reality mystically and contemplatively from a unitive consciousness. But, over time, as these practices turned into repetitive obligations, they degenerated; most people came to understand them magically as divinely required transactions. Instead of inviting people into new consciousness, such practices often froze people in their first infantile understanding of those rituals, andtransactions ended up substituting for transformations.


Mindless repetition of any practice, with no clear goal or clarity of intention, can in fact keep us quite unconscious—unless the practices keep breaking us into new insight, desire, compassion, and an ever-larger notion of God and ourselves. Automatic repetition of anything is a recipe for unconsciousness, the opposite of any genuine consciousness, intentionality, or spiritual maturity.If spirituality does not support real growth in both inner and outer freedom, it is not authentic spirituality. It is such basic “unfreedom”that makes so many people dislike and mistrust religious people. 


Our opening story of the teenage refugee finding new and lovely shoes that fit is a powerful example of practicing true spirituality.  Holding the space of the “Little Shop of Kindness” restores a sense of human dignity and worth which helps to balance the de-humanizing energy of war, of hatred and persecution.  And in keeping with the energy of the Tao, it is done in such a practical, concrete way….shoes…..as to be unmistakable!


May we all find our Way on the Way!


Blessings on the Path,

Rev. Deb