Full question text: The Tao Te Ching seems to contain extremely powerful wisdom, yet due to the way it is written, this wisdom is hard to fully decipher. Has anyone really fully understood the Tao Te Ching and applied it? Would not their lives become heaven?
The first sentence says:
“Tao (The Way) that can be spoken of is not the Constant Tao.”
But the book itself speaks of the Tao. By its own logic, the book speaks not of the Constant Tao. My interpretation is that it speaks of an interpretation of the experience Lao Tzu was living as. The book contains the ‘interpretation’, not the Constant Tao.
Constant Tao is who we truly are. It cannot be understood from books. A book is a set of ideas, in the form of language and images. Who we truly are transcends such forms and all forms, all the while being one with all forms.
An interpretation in a book is a dead thing. How can it be alive? Ideas in books are just forms set in language. They are set, therefore kind of dead/stale, unchanging.
To understand Tao, we must go beyond the thinking mind. We hear the thoughts in our frontal region of brain. When we stay focused in this region, identified with the thought structure as ourselves, we don’t experience that we are the underlying Awareness that contains all of what we are experiencing. We must refocus our attention back to the Awareness that we are to start experiencing ourselves as the Awareness. That is why reading Tao Te Ching in a cerebral way, by solely focusing on the thought structure of it, one cannot understand Tao.
For a person heavily focused on the thoughts and identified with them, a practice called meditation will help them withdraw their creative energy from feeding their identification with their thoughts and recognize the Awareness that they are. In the beginning objects of focus such as the breath or the energy of Love are used for this. This article explains it concisely and accurately. When a person practices meditation this way, they will begin to experience Tao directly. It is not a mystical, non reachable state. By simple practice we can begin to experience it.
But it doesn’t end there. There is much activity in the mind, and it will take as much as necessary practice to fully transcend this, to fully, continuously silence the mind and fill our entire energy system with the energy of Love.
Let’s approach this from the western culture. Now, Tao becomes God. As in, everything is God, God is in everything, one with everything. There is nothing but God. Can you see the ridiculousness of trying to understand God from books now? How can the infinite be condensed in a book? It can’t be. Therefore Tao Te Ching wisely states this in its first sentence.
Books can speak of their futility of capturing God in their content. And they can remind you that you are one with God, one and the same as God. That you are the Tao in fact, Tao is who you truly are. They will use language and text for this. Your brain will process these, and you as consciousness will look at this processing and have the choice to decide to keep turning your attention back to yourself to awaken to who you truly are. When you do this, you will begin to experience who you truly are and your mind will transform its understanding naturally as a result of these experiences.
To understand Tao Te Ching, you must experience who you truly are. This is different than solely reading. This is by being. The article I have given a reference is written by a person who is very fully in this state of realization. I am a student who has awakened to the basic state of Awareness and now in the filling the human system with Love phase.
I haven’t read the Tao Te Ching fully. I have already found a living enlightened person, therefore I read some of the book and am content not to read all of it. I am focusing on the experience of myself now, which I am sure many people were inspired by Tao Te Ching towards, and in my case works of another master.
Finally, yes, when a person is enlightened, their experience will be like heaven on earth. They won’t even need the gardens and etc. Their inner experience will be heaven, no matter what happens in the world. Even working towards enlightenment, my experience is the experience profoundly improves and greater and greater experiences of the inner happiness continue to develop. This is also a road with challenges and lessons, which are all within ourselves. How it will happen will change from person to person, too; but I feel the basic rules are the same for all.
So, be sincere.. and work towards it, without doubt you will achieve it. Consciousness is perfectly capable of awakening to itself. You are it. The Tao. When sincere, how can’t you?