Tao-Te-Ching 无源 (The Fountainless, s.4)

Tao-Te-Ching 无源 (The Fountainless, s.4)
Huangshan (Yellow) Mountains in Eastern China; subject of many traditional ink paintings

ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ
This is section #4 out of 83 (Section 3 has been skipped as it was more about political strategy than spirituality). If you wish to take a look at that section standalone then you can find it here. If you are new to the series please check out the previous sections as this section may come off as confusing. In this section, Lao Tse starts to unpack the intricate Dao.

To take on the Dao (道) head on/explicitly(冲), it’s use (用之) might (或) be described as unfilling or lacking/empty (不盈).
On the surface, the Dao seems unfulfilling (in contrast to the world’s expectations of fulfillment). Most people see the path of spirituality as tasteless. We are surrounded by environments that tell us that more is better. Rather, more is the path of pain. Walking on the path of spirituality calls for detachment. When we detach ourselves from the overstimulation of the senses then we will receive peace. When we live in a state of desires, even if one desire is fulfilled then another will rise up. In Sri Sukhmani Sahib, Dhan Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Ji Maharaj tell us:
ਬਿਨਾ ਸੰਤੋਖ; ਨਹੀ ਕੋਊ ਰਾਜੈ ॥
Bina Santokh Nahi Kouoo Raajai.
Without contentment, we will never be fulfilled

Vaheguru are the form of Contentment.
Vaheguru in Their Pure Nirgun Form are never fluctuating in between states of being up or down:
ਨ ਘਾਟ ਹੈ ਨ ਬਾਢ ਹੈ; ਨ ਘਾਟ ਬਾਢ ਹੋਤ ਹੈ ॥
Naa GhaaT Hai Naa BaaDh Hai Naa Ghaat BaaD Hoth Hai
There is not any decreasing nor increasing, never is there any increase or decrease in Vaheguru.
(Sri Akaal Ustat)

It is [rather] very deep/profound (渊兮), it is the ancestor/origin of the multitude of existence (似万物之宗).
Dulling the Sharp (挫其锐), Liberating from the Disorder/Confusion (解其纷), Unite with the Light (和其光), Dust of the Self (同其尘);
Very clear and calm is the Dao’s Existence 湛兮似或存

Dao is so simple but from this One Dao came the entire manifestation. It seems like a paradox, it makes us unlearn our existence. What we saw as sharp now becomes dull, the confusion gets cleared up, we become one with the light and realize the True Self within the Dust-Body.

ਮਾਧਵੇ; ਕਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਐਸਾ ॥
Madhhvae Kiaa Kaheeai Bhram[u] Aisaa
Oh Vaheguru, how can I put into words what this illusion is like...

ਜੈਸਾ ਮਾਨੀਐ; ਹੋਇ ਨ ਤੈਸਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Jaisae Maaneeai Hoei Na Taisaa
...The way I accepted it to be, it turned out not to be that way. (Ang 657)

We should constantly question where our perceptions come from. All of our interactions and thinking we have gained from birth came from our family, friends, institutions, media, etc. So when we may first read Gurbani, it comes from a perception gathered from all of these different factors. We may misinterpret or - otherwise - reject Gurbani because it goes against our deeply engrained beliefs. The fact is our thoughts are influenced and do not belong to us. Those who develop conviction and trust towards Gurbani, will not challenge Gurbani in comparison to their preconceived notions. Rather, Gurbani will start to mold the mind into the Truth. This happens by unlearning these misperceptions and replacing them with Gur-mat (Guru’s Thinking).

ਘੜੀਐ ਸਬਦੁ; ਸਚੀ ਟਕਸਾਲ ॥
Ghareeai Shabadh[u] Sachee Taksaal
Shape the Mind into the Mold of the Shabad & the Truth-bearing Mint
(Sri Japji Sahib)

Daas does not need to comment on the Tao Te Ching for those who have already gone beyond interpretation and are intimate with the Truth. They read "dulling the sharp, liberating from disorder, unite with the Light, Dust-Body of the Self" and they know exactly what it refers to.

吾不知谁之子,   象帝之先
I do not know (吾不知) who the Dao was born from
Dao existed before (之先) any Manifested God/Lord (象帝)

Dhan Guru Nanak Dev Ji Maharaj bless us with an interpretation from the teachings of Sri Japji Sahib. Maharaj state that Vaheguru is Ajoonee (does not come into birth). Lao Tse rules out knowing where this path came from. According to Vedic traditions, the Shruti texts are Divine Knowledge that did not come into being. The Divine Knowledge has always been there. In contrast, Smritis are interpretive texts. Gurbani is Dhur Ki Bani and has always present.
Dhan Guru Amardas Ji Maharaj bless us in Raag Gujaree with the following bachan:

ਵਾਹੁ ਵਾਹੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਹੈ;
Vaah[u] Vaah[u] BaNee Nira[n]kaar Hai
How Wonderful! Bani is Nirankaar (Formless)
ਤਿਸੁ ਜੇਵਡੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥
Tis[u] Jaevad[u] Avar[u] Na Koe[i]
There is nothing/no one else like Bani/Nirankaar (Ang 515)

The Physical Saroop is limited. Akaal Purakh is not a five-elemental body (comprised of water, air, fire, earth, & ether/space).
Before Dhan Guru Gobind Singh Ji did Jyoti Jyot, a sikh named Bhai Santokh Singh tried to fall at Maharaj’s Feet. The sikh’s hands went through Maharaj’s Feet.
Maharaj stated that they have no form in this manifestation: They were the Form of the Shabad, are Form of the Shabad, and will be the Form of Shabad.
Dhan Guru Nanak Dev Ji describe this as:
ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ ॥
Aad[i] Sach[u] Jugaad[i] Sach[u]
Hai Bhee Sach[u] Nanak Hosee Bhee Sach[u].
Vaheguru is Truth and was from the beginning of creation, throughout the various yugs, currently are the Truth and will be in the Future.

Even if this Truth is something considered to be ONLY within this manifested world then Maharaj asks us:

ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਵੇਲਾ, ਵਖਤੁ ਕਵਣੁ; ਕਵਣ ਥਿਤਿ, ਕਵਣੁ ਵਾਰੁ ॥
Kavan Su Vaelaa Vakht Kavan Kavan Thhit[i] kavan Vaar
What was the time, the moment, the day...
ਕਵਣਿ ਸਿ ਰੁਤੀ ਮਾਹੁ ਕਵਣੁ; ਜਿਤੁ ਹੋਆ ਆਕਾਰੁ ॥
Kavan Si Ruthee Maaho Kavan Jit Hoaa Akaar?
... the season, the month when the universe was manifested?
Maharaj rules out the knowledge of Pandits, Qazis, and Yogis. Then bless us with:

ਜਾ ਕਰਤਾ, ਸਿਰਠੀ ਕਉ ਸਾਜੇ; ਆਪੇ ਜਾਣੈ ਸੋਈ ॥
Jaa Kartaa SirTtee Ko[u] Saajae Aapae JaaNai Soee
The One-Doer who arranged the Universe, alone knows Themselves.
(Sri Japji Sahib)

In Benti Chaupai Sahib, Dhan Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj teach us:

ਆਦਿ ਅੰਤਿ; ਏਕੈ ਅਵਤਾਰਾ ॥
Aadh[i] A[n]th[i] Eakai Avtaaraa
The One who appears in various incarnations from the beginning till the end of manifestation...
ਸੋਈ ਗੁਰੂ; ਸਮਝਿਯਹੁ ਹਮਾਰਾ ॥੩੮੫॥
Soee Guroo Samajhiyah[u] Hamaaraa
understand that Vaheguru to be our Guru (Benti Chaupai)

After coming to this realization then many may renounce the idea of accepting the 10 Guru Sahibaan and do worship only Akaal Purakh. Then the question arises: who gave you this understanding? Who tells you how to worship Akaal Purakh? It is Guru Sahib. We only understand the manifested world. Maharaj came to us in this manifested world and taught us through an understanding of the manifested world about that which is Independent of it. Maharaj showed us the way to transcend this manifestation through Naam and Gurbani.

This manifested world exists in 3 states (Rajo, Tamo, Sato). These are personified by Brahma Ji, Shiv Ji, Vishnu Ji. So if Vaheguru is beyond this manifested world then how can They be limited by one state:
ਕਾਲ ਪਾਇ; ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਬਪੁ ਧਰਾ ॥
Kaal Paae Brahmaa Bap Dharaa
Mortality was given to Brahma

ਕਾਲ ਪਾਇ; ਸਿਵਜੂ ਅਵਤਰਾ ॥
Kaal Paae Shiv Ju Avataraa
Mortality was given to Shiv Ji [The Rudra Avatar]

ਕਾਲ ਪਾਇ ਕਰਿ; ਬਿਸਨ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸਾ ॥
Kaal Paae Kar Bisan Prakasa
Mortality was given to Vishnu

ਸਕਲ ਕਾਲ ਕਾ; ਕੀਆ ਤਮਾਸਾ ॥੩੮੩॥
Sakal Kaal Ka Keeaa Tamasaa
The Fabric of Time/Mortality holds the entire game/play (Benti Chaupai)

ਔਰ ਸਕਾਲੁ ਸਭੈ ਬਸਿ ਕਾਲ ਕੇ; ਏਕ ਹੀ ਕਾਲ ਅਕਾਲ ਸਦਾ ਹੈ ॥੮੪॥
Aur Sakaal[u] Sabhai Bas[i] Kaal Kae Eak Hee Kaal Akaal Sadaa Hai
(Bachhittar Naatak, 1st Adhiyaye)
Everyone else comes to get destroyed, the Only One Kaal Purakh [Nirgun-Destroyer] is without destruction/mortality and always present.

So if we refer to Akaal Purakh as only Brahma Ji,
that’s incorrect because Vaheguru created Brahma Ji.
If we refer to only Vishnu Ji as Vaheguru,
that’s incorrect because Vaheguru sustained Vishnu Ji.
If we refer to only Shiv Ji as Akaal Purakh, that’s incorrect because Vaheguru destroyed Shiv Ji...
ਮਹਾਂਦੇਵ ਕੌ; ਕਹਤ ਸਦਾ ਸਿਵ ॥
Mahadaev Kau Kahat Sadaa Siv
Those who refer to Mahadev(Shiv Ji) as SadaaShiv (the Supreme Destroyer)
ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਕਾ; ਚੀਨਤ ਨਹਿ ਭਿਵ ॥੩੯੨॥
Nira[n]kaar Kaa Cheenat Nah[i] Bhiv
...cannot grasp the Formless Vaheguru.

Dhan Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj beautifully explain that:
ਏਕ ਸਿਵ ਭਏ, ਏਕ ਗਏ, ਏਕ ਫੇਰ ਭਏ; ਰਾਮਚੰਦ੍ਰ ਕ੍ਰਿਸ਼ਨ ਕੇ, ਅਵਤਾਰ ਭੀ ਅਨੇਕ ਹੈ ॥
Eak Siv Bhae Eak Gaae Eak Phaer Bhae Raamcha[n]dr Krishn Kae Avataar Bhee Anaek Hain
One Shiv Ji gets created, one gets destroyed then another forms... there are various incarnations of Ram Chandra Ji and Krishna Ji as well (Sri Akaal Ustat)

Vaheguru is within everything, so the different gods/deities/lords that people worship are the temporary manifestations of qualities & energies that they represent. This is something we can comprehend but Vaheguru is beyond this temporality and wields all of these qualities and energies. Anything which comes into manifestation will also have an end except for the One who this manifestation depends on. We can add to Lao Tse’s comment that Dao came before any gods/lords etc and say Dao will also exist even after the gods/lords leave their bodies. This does not only apply to Dharmic beings but any other worshipped beings across the world. So far, we are seeing the Dao and Nirankaar Paramatma as parallel. Hopefully, in the next sections, the Dao stays consistent in this understanding.

There is a lot to take in this section. Again, the vague terms that are written in this granth allow us to use the text as a platform to do Gurbani vichaar upon. Let this section invoke a genuine spiritual seeking and recognize Gurbani as deeper than the mind can comprehend. Hopefully, this opens up further conversation and widens your field of view to have a Gurmat discussion about. Forgive any mistakes and please message if you have any questions.

Our Parent Group