Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

My Neighbor’s Prayer: The Vocabulary of Blessing as Common Bond
Taoism rests in an eternal search for a virtuous life. A life that follows the Way. And yet the act of searching, probing, foraging for such truth may not ultimately prose results. Doing-not-doing is more apt: intentional contradictions move one deeper in. The first words of the Tao Te Ching emphasize this, “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The Unnamable is the eternal Reality.” There is something meditative about these kinds of short statements. It pushes us deeper, and in doing so, forces us to approach life more in tune with ourselves and the humility, compassion and wisdom necessary to the virtuous path. The passage from the Tao Te Ching below seems to accentuate this paradox of seeing with eyes closed.

Is this text prayer? Because western Christian ideas of prayer seem to have a divine One to address and a longing to proclaim, there is part of me that feels as if this is more of a wisdom text than a prayer. It also makes me wonder how words of wisdom might become prayer—or a tool to connect us to the divine—when the text of the Tao Te Ching, they can push the human embodied self—body, mind, and soul—toward introspection and contemplation. Maybe wisdom carries our deepest longing and connects us to the beyond-in-our-midst.

My Neighbor’s Prayer
Without opening your door,
you can open your heart to the world.
Without looking out your window,
you can see the essence of the Tao.
The more you know,
the less you understand.
The Master arrives without leaving,
sees the light without looking,
achieves without doing a thing.
Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu “the Old Master” 6th Century China