The Tao

by Barbara Bossert-Ramsay

Respectfully revised and lovingly added to by Barbara Bossert-Ramsay and complemented by the thoughts of Dadi Janki

The title of the annual Mt Abu Forum in India in February 1998 was “The Spirit of the 21st Century”. Three themes provided the focus for the forum: simplicity, creativity and responsibility. During the forum Robin Ramsay, Barbara Bossert-Ramsay and Tamasin Ramsay adapted and performed The Tao to align with the themes, and then Dadi Janki shared a lifetime’s wisdom on each of the three topics. This is the essence.


To know others is wisdom;
To know the self is enlightenment,
To master others requires force;
To master the self requires strength.

To be happy where you are is to be content,
To be content is to be eternally present,
To be eternally present is The Way

Those who know do not talk.
Those who talk do not know.

Keep your mouth closed,
Guard your senses.
Temper your sharpness.
Simplify your problems.

Beware of any undertaking
That requires new clothes.

He who has achieved this state is happy with friends and with enemies,
is comfortable with good or with harm,
with honour and disgrace.

This is the highest state of man.

The five colours blind the eye.
The five tones deafen the ear.
The five flavours dull the taste.

Owning and losing madden the mind.
Precious things lead one astray.
Therefore the sage is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees.
He lets go of that and chooses this.

If I have just a little sense,
I will walk on the main road and my only fear will be of straying from it.
Keeping to the main road is easy,
But people love to be side tracked.
When the court is arrayed in splendour,
The fields are full of weeds,
And the granaries are bare.
Some wear gorgeous clothes,
Carry sharp swords,
And indulge themselves with food and drink;
People have more possessions than they can use.
This is certainly not the way.
Sainthood, charity, ingenuity.
These three are outward forms alone.
They are not sufficient in themselves.
Give up sainthood.
Renounce the self-righteousness of wisdom,
And it will be a hundred times better for everyone.

Give up charity.
Renounce opinions of what should be
And humanity will re-discover respect and love.

Give up ingenuity.
Renounce accumulation and profit
And bandits and thieves will disappear

It is more important
To see the simplicity,
To cast off selfishness
To temper desire
To realise one’s true nature.

This is contentment.
This holds happiness.

Empty yourself.
Let your mind rest.
All the things of the world rise and fall
While the soul watches their return.
Everything grows and flourishes and then returns to its source.
To return to the source is stillness.
This is unchanging, eternal.
To know this constancy frees the mind.

A free mind brings an open heart.
Open hearted, you will act royally.
Being royal you attain the divine.
Being divine will be your true self
Your eternal self.

The body dies.
The soul will never pass away.


It is a form of wisdom to know how to remain simple, to merge everything and become peaceful.  In this state of consciousness spiritual power is accumulated automatically.  To become simple means to become a good example in front of the world.

When we become simple we see the solution to everything is to remain peaceful and happy in our dealings with everyone.  Simplicity creates the sate of introversion in which we no longer waste time and energy by going into this and that.  This makes us very royal in our attitude and behaviour. Any unfulfilled desire does not even arise in us.  Any work that we are responsible for is done with a natural easiness. We are able to create ideas and an atmosphere that makes everyone feel comfortable.  It’s as if the inner mirror becomes clean and we can see clearly what we have to do.

Simplicity allows us to have courage and faith and it is this that creates success.  Simplicity allows us to let go of old things.  Simplicity allows us to be more loving towards ourselves and others.  And this is what develops self respect.  And by living in a simple way the specialty of each one becomes clear and we can easily see each other’s value.


What is firmly established cannot be uprooted.
What is firmly grasped cannot slip away.
It will be honoured from generation to generation.

Cultivate Virtue in your self,
And Virtue will be real.
Cultivate Virtue in the family,
And Virtue will abound.
Cultivate it in the village,
And Virtue will grow.
Cultivate it in the nation,
And Virtue will be abundant.
Cultivate it in the universe,
And Virtue will be everywhere.

Therefore look at the body as body;
Look at the family as family;
Look at the village as village;
Look at the nation as nation;
Look at the universe as universe.

How do I know the universe is like this?
By looking!

My words are easy to understand, my directions easy to practice,
Yet only a handful under the sky hears and follows them.

My words have ancient beginnings
My laws are eternal.
Those that know me are few;
Illusion is everywhere.
Therefore the sage wears rough clothing and keeps jewels safe in his heart.

Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
But only the centre hole makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room
And it is the holes that make it useful.
Shape your clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.

Without going outside
You might know the whole world.
Without looking through the window,
You might see the ways of heaven.
The farther you go,
The less you know.

Thus the sage knows without travelling;
He sees without looking:
He creates without doing.


You are able to develop creativity in yourself when you have the attitude of learning and when you have the aim of self improvement.  When you have the aim of self improvement you won’t want to have any defects in your character. You will make an effort to remove anything negative.  For this I need to make myself calm and peaceful.  I need to spend time in silence.  I have to see myself within.  Then I can cleanse my inner self.  Then I can create new things.  This is the practice which can restore my creative ability.

Try not to allow anything external to influence you; whether it is in the form of praise, defamation, victory or defeat.  Everything that is happening is just like a game.  I am just an actor.  So keep yourself always balanced.  Whatever is happening externally let it happen but maintain your highest intentions and focus inside.  Thoughts, words and actions should be identical.  Attitude should be filled with benevolence and thoughts constantly lined with the creator.

Just as there is a connection with the power generator in order to draw power so in the same way we have to be linked with the creator and draw that power to play our role accurately within the creation.  This power restores concentration which enables us to create pure and positive thoughts.  When there are thoughts of love and respect for the self we are able to create the same for others.  This is spiritual service.


Accept your life willingly,
Accept obstacles as part of the human condition.

What do you mean by ‘Accept your life willingly’?
Ride the low waves as well as the high,
Do not be concerned with loss or gain.
This is called ‘Accepting your life willingly’.
What do you mean by, ‘Accepting obstacles as part of the human condition’?
Obstacles are part of your learning
Without obstacles how can there be life?

Surrender yourself willingly;
Then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the worlds as our own self;
Then you can truly care for all things.

A good walker leaves no tracks;
A good speaker makes no slips;
A good reckoner needs no tally,
A good door needs no lock,
Yet no one can open it.
Good binding requires no knots,
Yet no one can loosen it,

Therefore the sage takes care of all men
And abandons no one.
He takes care of all things
And abandons nothing.

This is called ‘following the light’,
This is the heart of the mystery.

When Truth is lost,
Charity and self-righteousness arise.
When cleverness and scholarship are born,
The great pretence begins.
When there is no peace within the family,
Social workers and care givers are born.
When the world is confused and in chaos.
The keepers of peace appear.

Know the strength of man,
But keep a woman’s care!
Be the stream of the universe!
Being the stream of the universe,
Ever true and unswerving,
Become as a little child once more.

Know the white,
But keep the black!
Be an example to the world!
Being an example to the world,
Ever true and unwavering.
Return to the infinite.

Know honour,
Yet keep humility.
Be the valley of the universe!
Being the valley of the universe,
Ever true and resourceful,
Return to the stage of the uncarved carved block.

When the block is carved,
It becomes useful.
When the sage uses it, he comes the ruler.
Thus, ‘A great tailor cuts little.’

The greatest good is like water
It flows in places human beings reject.
It gives life without any effort.


In dwelling, be close to the land.
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
In speech, be true.
In ruling, be just.
In business, be vigilant.
In action, keep your timing full of care.
Let your heart be like water
It will flow in places human beings reject.
It will bring life without any effort.

Ancient masters.
Profound, responsive, subtle, mysterious.
The depth of their knowledge is unfathomable.
Because it is unfathomable.

But we can describe their appearance.
Watchful, like those crossing a winter stream.
Alert like those aware of danger.
Courteous, like visiting guests.
Yielding, like ice just about to melt,
Simple, yet holding everything,
Like blocks of wood ready to be carved.

And if we learn carefully,
If we remain still until the moment of action
If we yield like ice just about to melt,
We too become simple, like blocks of wood ready to be carved.
It is the depth of their knowledge that is unfathomable.
Not having knowledge itself.
And having the knowledge,
The depth is only your decision.
And to all others,
It is unfathomable


Regarding the coming 21st century we all have a responsibility to plant seeds.  The first seed is of simplicity: to have simplicity in our communication with each other and in our relationship with God.  There is great beauty in this simplicity for it is open and honest and clean.  In your relationships develop a selfless attitude where you bring benefit to one another.  Put your heart on one another’s hand.  Trust one another.  Everyone is now thinking for themselves or their own family.  This is the time to think for the world, we have to do something for the world.  I have to look and see what it is I have to do at this very important time now. 

It is our responsibility to be forgiving, loving and merciful towards ourselves and then others.  We must not be sorrowful seeing people in sorrow; this does not help them.  So we must bring them to happiness.  With truthfulness and with love, if I am responsible for my own self and know that this is what I have to do, I will definitely receive the help of God.  But first I need to have pure and elevated thoughts, determined and courageous thoughts; these are my responsibilities and these will serve the world in the 21st century.

Barbara Bossert-Ramsay is an author and freelance writer based in Melbourne. Dadi Janki is the Additional Administrative Head of the Brahma Kumaris.


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