The Caregiver’s Tao Te Ching

Tuesday, October 8, 2019, 5:30 pm, 68°F (20°C), Beautiful, sunny and unusually warm fall day

The Caregiver’s Tao Te Ching

Over the last two and half years, I have written about the changes that have taken place in me as a care partner of Sumi.  Along with these changes, have come the acceptance and wisdom that life does not unfold according to our own wishes.

Recently, I came across a small book called The Caregiver’s Tao Te Ching. This book expresses encouragement and wisdom from the classic Chinese text the Tao Te Ching written by Lao Tzu, a legendary figure from some 2600 years ago.

The book has 81, single-page chapters.  Each chapter begins with poem followed by a brief commentary.

I like Chapter #33 – Healing Ourselves. It gives voice to my own experience in my Journey as a care partner over the last six and half years.

Understanding what another person feels
Is helpful knowledge.
Knowing what we ourselves are feeling
Is essential wisdom.
Easing another’s pain
requires certain kind of skill.
Easing our own pain requires true power.

Healing ourselves
is the greatest act of caregiving

Much of our suffering stems from believing that we know what other people think and feel.  We act on these assumptions, only to feel hurt and rejected when our words and actions are not welcome.

In our Tao mind, we take nothing personally and remain with our own experience.  We cannot know what our care receivers are experiencing.  Their attention moves from one physical sensation to another and from one internal story to the next. Their response is not about us, but a reflection of the inner work they are doing.  Stepping back, we look at our own heart. What are we experiencing?  What are the fears and the anxieties, the hopes and expectations that we carry right now? Can we focus compassion on our own heart where the turmoil exits?

Considering these questions, we reenter our direct experience. We do not need to understand what others are going through.  Accepting our own inner dynamics, we find new balance and calm.  We can wait, open and available, so we will be ready when they can share what they need.