tao is: “… There is nowhere it {Tao} is not to be found …”  ~ Thomas Merton

tao is everywhere merton

Even though the Tao can not be told 🙂 … it can be safely said that an accepted “phrasing” is that it is “the source of creation” : “It may be considered the mother of the universe. I do not know its name; I call it Tao.” ~ from the Tao Te Ching

Whatever word or phrase one relates with (God, Universe, Allah, The Divine, The Creative, Higher Power, The Tao, Brahman …) depending on ones preferred tradition, the principle that  It is everywhere  is one of the common underlying themes across all traditions – even though each expresses it in their unique way, e.g., the Sufi zikr is the internal or external repetition of the phrase La’illaha il’Allahu which roughly translates to There is no reality but God; there is only God … or the American Indian “… The Great Spirit is in all things: He is in the air we breathe …” .. or the Hindu “… Brahman as satyam (Reality), jnanam (Knowledge) and anantam (Infinity) …” … or the Christian “… Jesus said : “I am the All. Cleave a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up a stone, and You will find Me there.”–> God is a higher dimension of consciousness, which is in everything and everywhere …” …

Regardless of the mental challenge in accepting the profound reality of the phrase God is everywhere, it is still worthwhile to reflect on the various expressions of this principle … as they are good reminders of what truly matters … such reminders are worthwhile at any time but that’s especially true in these deeply unsettling times of increasing divisiveness and more …

To that end, we continue to offer different examples of (perspectives on) this principle – the more recent pertinent ones being: being in God’s classroom at all times via Hafiz … or Suzuki Roshi’s Zen Is Right Now … or Joan Tollifson’s You are The Present Moment …  Of course, Stillness Speaks is all about what truly matters 🙂 … and we engage that imperative by offering a “menu (both literally and figuratively)” of multiple traditions and teachers allowing the reader/visitor to select whatever resonates for them … in honor of the Sufi saying (paraphrased): “… there are as many paths to the Divine as there are being in the Universe …”

So, today let’s see what Thomas Merton has to say about this principle via his poem Where is Tao

So, pause … read … pause … reflect … pause … reflect even deeper … and see what it is revealed …

Tao Is … Universal … There is nowhere it is not …

Master Tung Kwo asked Chuang:
“Show me where the Tao is found.”
Chuang Tzu replied:
“There is nowhere it is not to be found.”

thor's hammer bryce canyon tao is merton

The former insisted:
“Show me at least some definite place
Where Tao is found.”
“It is in the ant,” said Chuang.
“Is it in some lesser being?”
“It is in the weeds.”

“Can you go further down the scale of things?”
“It is in this piece of tile.”
“It is in this turd.”
At this Tung Kwo had nothing more to say.
But Chuang continued: “None of your questions
Are to the point. They are like the questions
Of inspectors in the market,
Testing the weight of pigs
By prodding them in their thinnest parts.
Why look for Tao by going ‘down the scale of being’
As if that which we call ‘least’
Had less of Tao?
Tao is Great in all things,
Complete in all, Universal in all, Whole in all.
These three aspects Are distinct,
but the Reality is One.

tao merton

“Therefore come with me
To the palace of Nowhere
Where all the many things are One:
There at last we might speak
Of what has no limitation and no end.
Come with me to the land of Non-Doing:
What shall we there say—that Tao Is simplicity, stillness,
Indifference, purity,
Harmony and ease?
All these names leave me indifferent
For their distinctions have disappeared.
My will is aimless there.
If it is nowhere, how should I be aware of it?
If it goes and returns, I know not
Where it has been resting.

tao simplicity stillness merton

If it wanders Here then there, I know not where it will end.
The mind remains undetermined in the great Void.
Here the highest knowledge Is unbounded.
That which gives things Their thusness
cannot be delimited by things.
So when we speak of ‘limits,’ we remain confined
To limited things.
The limit of the unlimited is called ‘fullness.’
The limitlessness of the limited is called ‘emptiness.’
Tao is the source of both. But it is itself
Neither fullness nor emptiness.
Tao produces both renewal and decay,
But is neither renewal or decay.
It causes being and non-being
But is neither being nor non-being.
Tao assembles and it destroys,
But it is neither the Totality nor the Void.”

 ~ Thomas Merton

=== ==== ===

And, for all you Merton lovers, click here for all of our Merton posts.

Indeed the Tao IS everywhere … so what does that mean in everyday life navigation? well, one possibility is to endeavor to dissolve boundaries by being kind and helpful … so, to that end let us do our part in dissolving or minimizing the current humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine … by helping in whatever way we can … and to that end here are some options:

1) NPR: Want to support the people in Ukraine? Here’s how you can help

2) Washington PostHere’s how Americans can donate to help people in Ukraine.

3) Go Fund Me: How to Help: Donate to Ukraine Relief Efforts.

4) USA Today: Want to support the people of Ukraine? These apps and websites can help you send money.

— — — —

We are all facing financial challenges but IF your situation allows you to donate and help then please do so …


La’illaha il allhu from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne.
Hindu quote from Taittiriya Upanishad, section 2.1.
Jesus quote from The Gospel of Thomas.
Merton’s poem Where is Tao is from In the Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems by Thomas Merton (Author), Lynn R. Szabo (Author, Editor, Introduction).
Images (edited and logo added): Featured and 1) Composite of a) Local market in Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania by Strelkov73, b) Gyeongbokgung Palace and Milky Way at night by praewa_koreashopping@hotmail.com, c) Stunning Sunset at Manhattan Beach Pier by focqus, and d) Deep moss forest by Maraha, 2) Thor’s Hammer in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, USA by Bill-45, 3) Composite of a) Wildlife scene with Hummingbird by OndrejProsicky and b) Night street of Bratislava by pomah1986, 4) The morning sky by fiera24_00. All purchased from depositphotos. All for use only on our website/social channels (these images are not permitted to be shared separate from this post). 


We also want to send our latest articles, videos, and podcasts via email once per week. As a thank you for signing up, you'll receive a video we produced that is unavailable anywhere else on the Internet.

Thank you! Please check your email for a welcome message and a link to the video.