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What would our life and living look like if we were to experience it with spontaneity and without any ideological filters? What would happen if we were to remove the dichotomy and the separation between the material and the physical? What if we were to live in harmony with the silence, the silent balance between the yin (the seed) and the yang (the spark)?

Some of these questions, and many more variations of the same, are posed in the Eastern classic, the Tao Te Ching. I pulled out my dog-eared and dog-nibbled copy of the translation by Ralph Alan Dale on Friday evening, as the rain that had been falling all day kept me indoors, in the company of multiple sessions of tea on the reading couch with the very puppy who had nibbles the bindings in her first year of life.

Earlier in the week, on Tuesday evening, I had taken my weekly walk in the reservation at the location where the East and West branches of the Rocky River meet at the base of a 350 million year old shale cliff. The lack of recent rain meant that I could walk halfway into the river on the shale beds by the shore, some of which are probably only a few million years old. I noticed immediately that the river bank had been cleared of a lot of older, dying brush and trees, and the shale beds were much more accessible and walkable. In the evening hour of sunset, I was grateful that I had half the river all to myself.

Kneeling on the layers of compacted shale to take some photos of the shale cliff in the distance, I noticed that some new layers of leaves from the trees on the river bank had started to cover the shale deposits I was kneeling on. It struck me that here, right before my autumn colored eyes, I was witnessing the seeds of a new layer of shale in their seeding. In that moment, with one knee on the river-bank, I realized that thousands of layers of existing shale were eventually going to accept, and then integrate this autumn’s offerings into their existence.

I imagine that that is how moving towards integrity, living with integrity actually manifests? One spontaneous experience at a time, one season at a time, one layer of Yin and Yang at a time, one layer of silence and song at a time, we chip away at the ideologies and dichotomies that keep us encrusted in dogma and duality.

In moving towards integrity, we may realize that we were always there, that we never left. One knee pressing new leaves into the layers of shale, one arm raised towards the sky, eyes flooded with golden sunlight, chanting our mother’s songs by the very river on whose shores the natives traveled for hundreds of years…

The spirit of life  
never dies.

It is the infinite gateway
to mysteries within mysteries.

It is the seed of yin,
the spark of yang.

Always elusive,
endlessly available.

- Tao Te Ching (verse 6)


P. S. What are the moments in which you feel that you are moving towards integrity? What do those moments feel like? Do share with us in the comments and/or our weekly twitter chat, Sunday Nov 13 at 9amEST / 2pm GMT / 730pm India in #SpiritChat. Namaste – @AjmaniK

The golden sunlight that integrates everything in its path…
The 350 million year old shale cliffs that form one bank of the Rocky River… (November 2022)