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Drawing on the Dao: A Rich Weave of Adventure

by Vicki McKenna(more info)

listed in chinese oriental medicine, originally published in issue 138 - August 2007

He who is centred in the Dao
Can go wherever he wishes, without danger
He perceives the universal harmony,
Even amid great pain,
Because he has found peace in his heart.

– Lao Tzu


Perceptions of Danger

Setting off on our trip last year to southern Spain I felt carefree and lighthearted – my husband and I had been talking about this camper van expedition for quite a while, and here we were ready to get on our way. Most people we knew were happy for us, but some questioned whether we were wise to set forth? Was it not foolish to spend our savings in this way? Had we not heard of the dangers abroad… stories of camper vans being flagged down by bandits who then proceeded to rob the occupants?

But then I remembered that these doubters did not reflect my reality, and such warnings of gloom and doom belonged to those who are attached to a view of the world as an unsafe place, full of danger and evil. The Daoist sees that these perceptions come from minds attached to feelings of fear and tension which only serve to create suffering. Ultimately the Dao and everything in it – you, me, robbers, good friends, lack of savings, prosperity, seemingly easy times and seemingly hard times – these are all one and the same Dao – the Way of the ebbing and flowing of energy with its fluctuations, its times of fullness and emptiness, of highs and lows.

There is nothing to fear in this rich weave of adventure, even when it feels uncomfortable, as everything in it is from the One Source manifesting itself as these ‘ten thousand things’. It is only the mind that forgets this truth, sees itself as separate from the Source – the eternal, timeless universal harmony – the Way, feels fearful and tries to control its experience becoming attached to a desired outcome. Then, when things do not go as expected, the mind becomes distressed and suffers.

A patient of mine was sure that her baby should be born without medical intervention, and was determined that the birth would proceed according to a fixed agenda. When her contractions started she was well-prepared with breathing techniques, and a well laid-out plan of what should happen and when it should happen. To her consternation, the safety net she was so attached to, and had so carefully created, was overturned as the baby got stuck in the birth canal, and so she had to have a caesarean section. This was not what she wanted, but at the end she had no control over the details of her experience. Nevertheless, the experience was the one that she got, and was the one that was right for her and her child – as everything is in the eternal, timeless universal harmony of the Way.

Staying Open

We have a choice – we can choose to cling to and identify with our hopes and fears and so feel separate from the Dao, or we can open our minds and hearts to liberate ourselves from a dictatorship of our own making, accept things as they are and so realize that ultimately no harm can come to us.

Interestingly, I met a peaceful, open-hearted traveller on my journey who had experienced the pain of loss with the death of a beloved family member. And shortly before we met she had experienced the very thing my fearful friends had warned me of – her vehicle had been hijacked whilst bandits robbed her. She could have shut down in the face of such hard times but instead she stayed open – accepting the feelings of grief and pain from her loss, accepting the adventures that life always has in store – whatever they turn out to be.

It is only the poor old story-telling mind with its propensity to hang on to fearful thoughts, and desired outcomes, that creates our suffering and so separates us from the peace of the Dao. When faced with the challenges of life we will always know how to respond so long as we relax and accept things as they are. In this way we open to the Dao, and in this way we are truly at peace.

When we align ourselves with the Dao by fully opening and accepting whatever life brings, staying interested in the adventure of it all, but not over identifying with it, we let go, feel at ease and know that from this peaceful space no harm can come to us. This is indeed blissful liberation.


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About Vicki McKenna

Vicki McKenna BA Lic Ac trained at The College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture in Leamington Spa with Professor Worsley from 1981 gaining her Lic Ac. in 1984 and has been practising acupuncture in Scotland since then. Her book A Balanced Way Of Living; Practical and Holistic Strategies for Coping with Post Polio Syndrome is available from 


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