A Conversation with the Great Tao
By: Forrest Rivers
One day, I sat by a roaring creek with a heavy heart and this is what it said to me:
“Dear seeker, have you ever noticed that I never stop moving? Day and night, rain and shine, summer and winter…. never do I cease from carrying my life blood to all beings. You don’t think I have days when I lament my circumstances? Flash floods, droughts and toxic chemicals dumped in my crystal-clear blue waters can certainly put a damper on my day! Yet, I must flow on so that I may merge with the rivers on our journey to fill great lakes and oceans. My purpose is to flow, that is my dharma…my eternal destiny! “
Intrigued by this wise and talking creek, my melancholy mood began to fade and I asked it a question: “How do you know to flow? Whenever I try to figure out my higher purpose or dharma, as you call it, I grow more anxious and confused. Please teach me how to flow so I may at last discover my destiny.”
The creek replied in a hushed tone that brought my attention fully to the moment:
“How does a cat know to hunt? How does an eagle know that its purpose is to soar high above the mountains as God’s first messenger? How do trees know to shed their glorious leaves in the fall and how to synthesize life-giving oxygen from sunlight? Intuitively, all sentient beings know how to act in harmony with their purpose. Even your own kind have this knowing deep within you. Sadly, many of your human brethren just convince themselves that they don’t have such wisdom and submit their souls’ power to their minds. Please remember, the mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master!”
The creek paused for a moment and then continued:
“Are you at all familiar with the Great Tao?”
I nodded my head no.
“Well, the Great Tao is that mysterious but eternal life force energy that all things in this world originate from, are always one with and will return to again. The Great Tao is the perfectly seamless marriage of past, present and future set against a backdrop of infinite stands in space. The Great Tao is like water. For IT carves its path through the canyons with no mind that it is moving or shaping anything. Yet, at the same time, the Great Tao contains the full awareness of everything in the Universe. IT is the sublime manifestation of both the form and the formless. Beyond the cycle birth and death, the Great Tao is as present in IT’s devotees’ mystical prayers and incantations as IT is in a mother nursing her new born child. Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage who first gave breath to the expression of the Great Tao, described it as the common ancestor of all things. Learn to flow with IT, not against, and the deepest mysteries of being, including your own destiny, shall be revealed.”
The creek stopped speaking and returned again to its silent meditation. In that moment, I, too, grew silent for the first time and heard the ebbs and flows of the creek. It was singing a beautiful song of joy and sorrow; of love and heartbreak, of light and darkness and of faith and fear. I slowly submerged my body in the creek’s rarefied water and suddenly burst out laughing. For just as everything once was, everything will be again!