Prayers inspired by those who practice the religious or philosophical tradition of living with the Tao or “The Way.”
We are born gentle and weak. At death we are hard and stiff. Green plants are tender and filled with sap. When they die they are withered and dry. Therefore the stiff and unbending are the disciples of death. The gentle and yielding are the disciples of life.
- Lao Tzu from the “Tao Te Ching”
Save your servant, O Sustainer of Life,
From too early a death.
Free me of that affliction of believers
Who so easily become rigid of heart
In their journeys to you.
Make my heart like the green willow tree
That easily bends in the wind,
That bows gracefully before the storm
Only to raise its head again with renewed life
When the angry clouds have moved on.
Fill me this day, I pray,
With the strength of your Spirit,
The strength to be flexible and ever-green.
Create within me the heart
Of a disciple of life,
A heart that is gentle and meek.
Let me learn a lesson from your daughter water
Who seeks the lowest path,
Ever yielding and humble,
Yet wears down the strongest stones into sand.
In her I see the wisdom of the Tao:
The hard and strong will fall;
The soft and meek shall overcome.
- Ed Hays
If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.
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 eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
- Lao Tzu from the “Tao Te Ching”
The flower invites the butterfly with no-mind;
The butterfly visits the flower with no-mind.
The flower opens, the butterfly comes;
The butterfly comes, the flower opens.
I don’t know others,
Others don’t know me.
By not-knowing we follow nature’s course.
Lord, let us empty of all doctrines,
The Tao is wisdom eternally inexhaustible.
Fathomless for the mere intellect,
The Tao is the law wherewith all things come into being.
It blunts the edges of the intellect,
Untangles the knots of the mind,
Softens the glare of thinking,
And settles the dust of thought.
Transparent yet invisible,
The Tao exists like deep pellucid water.
Its origin is unknown,
For it existed before Heaven and Earth.
I begin this thing called Prayer.
Immediately there is nothing.
Glory fills the crevices between each muscle, each bone, each vein.
Bubbles of life continue to spring, seemingly from nowhere.
And what am I to say?
What is prayer?
Every cell in my body becomes alive.
My breath quietens and thickens.
Pressure rests on my forehead
And Still, my mind is quiet.
There seems nothing to say
Apart from praise.
Words, much used,
Spring to mind. Glory.
Blessed. Life. Love.
Praise of Life
Gives way to gratitude.
Noticing the life swimming in my veins,
Swimming in the veins of the world,
I want to thank Life itself, for Life.
And then, quickly, on gratitude’s heels,
Comes the wish that all may feel, may perceive
May experience this blessed love for Life.
For Creation, for the unnamed and unnameable.
And my first Prayer fades into the moment
Wish a sweetness of remembered perfume.
- Tiffany Jones