The translator/author Red Pine/Bill Porter, in his version of the Tao Te Ching, proposes in the introduction that moon is a constant companion to the test and is reffered to throughout, citing various examples. He also suggests that the yin-yang symbol of Taoism is a representation of the moon and its cycle of changes, a static symbol of a dynamic and continuous flow of darkness and light. In the symbol we can see balance, but not a balance of holding things in stillness and trying not to topple over, but one of equilibrium established through motion which supports and sustains. And in that balance there is wholeness, wherever one finds oneself amidst the continual flow of change that is existence itself.
It's interesting to think about what we consider wholeness to be, and spending time with the moon has been helpful in this endeavor. A few years ago it occurred to me that what we call a full moon isn't actually the full moon, that bright sphere floating through the sky being only half of the moon itself, the other side remaining in darkness. From that came the realization that the moon is actually full when it is a new moon, darkness all around, abiding in its inherent state of no light. There is wholeness in that complete darkness, characterized by the consistency and uniformity throughout the terrain. But it is not the only type of wholeness we know, for there is also the wholeness that is characterized by being well rounded; a state of being that holds a variety of qualities all at once, some congruent and some opposing, in a larger landscape that welcomes them all. In this respect, what we call a full moon is an expression of its wholeness, the darkness and light existing together equally. And there is also the wholeness of light that is the sun, similar to that of the moon by definition but quite different in its nature. These two celestial bodies don't have much in common, yet each abiding in its particular wholeness while in relationship with the other invoke and display a wholeness that is the dance of the dark and the light, ever-changing, ever-present.
This wholeness abides deeply within each of us, in the constancy of our suns and our moons, in the ebb and flow of our darkness and light. And though we may not always feel balance and harmony as we define them, we can trust that they are always there, regardless of where we find ourselves. Present in the changes of life that we move thorough and that move through us; present in the dismantling and crumbling, present in the rebuilding and growing; present in the events of a busy day that slips away from us, present in the long, slow arc of our lifetime. Trusting in the balance and harmony of what is, we find an offer of continual support being extended, and along with it an invitation to keep meeting and moving along with things as you and they arise together, to engage and contribute as you can to the world around and within you, to fully join in and be the continual flow of change and transformation that is existence itself.
On some level we know this already and maybe find that it resonates deeply, yet it is also good to doubt it and not simply believe it. Belief can be a film over our eyes that keeps us from seeing and connecting with what is real. Likewise, doubt can be a perpetual stance we take with the world that prevents things from entering as fully as they could. However, beneath the activity of belief there is unspoken trust, and before doubt becomes a hardened stance it is has the flavor of curiosity and questioning. This trust and curiosity are nourished by meeting the world with wonder and looking with fresh eyes, again and again and again. So allow your ideas and conclusions and beliefs and doubts to drift to the periphery, see what you find when you meet intimately and directly the existence flowing all around and throughout you. After that, whatever you discover, keep looking.
It only seems right to close with something from Red Pine's Tao Te Ching, a person whose books have supported my path and practice regularly, and the book that connected me with the path beneath my feet, encouraging me to walk it deeply and fully. Without the both of them what is above would not be. With gratitude flowing, here is Chapter 14:
We look but don't see it
and call it indistinct
we listen but don't hear it
and call it faint
we reach but don't grasp it
and call it ethereal
three failed means to knowledge
I weave into one
with no light above
and no shadow below
too fine to be named
returning to nothing
this is the formless form
the immaterial image
the one that waxes and wanes
we meet without seeing its face
we follow without seeing its back
whoever upholds this very Way
can rule this very realm
and discover the ancient maiden
that is the thread of the Way
Blessings to you, and Happy New Year!