Dào: Returning to the Root

Dào is considered the source of the world and of all life:

Dào births life, virtue fosters it.
Things take form and power completes them.
That’s why every one of the myriad things
reveres Dào and values virtue.
When Dào is revered and virtue is valued,
all is constantly natural without being commanded.
So Dào birth life, virtue fosters it:
they forever raise all,
shelter from poison,
nurture, and protect.
—Dàodéjīng, chapter 51

That means that all life comes from Dào, which is logical because life emerges out of the perpetually moving universe.

Once life occurs, the virtuous Dào will always foster it. “Things take form and power completes them.” (Interestingly, the word for “power,” shì, 勢, is used in Taijiquan. The first posture is called Qǐshì, 起勢, or beginning. The closing is called Shōushì, 收勢.)

Even though all life comes from Dào, it gives us no instructions: “all is constantly natural without being commanded.” It’s up to us to follow it.

Chapter 25 of the Dàodéjīng states:

People follow the laws of earth.
Earth follows the laws of heaven.
Heaven follows the laws of Dào.
Dào naturally follows its own laws.

Following Dào is as easy as following what we observe of the earth. We can follow heaven and Dào too, but simply living by earthly principles is the easiest way to start.

The Source Inside Us

We have a corresponding source inside us: the Lower Dantian. Just as we are immersed in Dào and it is the source of life, we have a source inside ourselves as a micro-level parallel. We draw energy from it, we return energy to it, we store energy in it, and when we circulate energy, it is as long and continous as the thread of Dào.

By extension, if we want longevity that is analogous to the eternal Dào, then we keep the energy flowing unimpeded and always returning to the source.

Myriad things grow in profusion:
I contemplate their return.
All things are diverse and varied,
yet each returns to their root.
Returning to the root, said to be tranquil,
means returning to life.
—Dàodéjīng, chapter 16

Follow the thread of Dào back to the root. Find the source of your life by following your energy back to the root.

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