The Tao of Motherhood

The Tao of Motherhood

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by Vimala McClure

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The Tao Te Ching, the classic work of ancient Chinese wisdom, has inspired and guided millions of people over more than a hundred generations. Twenty years ago, Vimala McClure, a mother and teacher of meditation and yoga, was inspired to meditate with each of the concise, profound teachings of the Tao Te Ching and capture its spirit and wisdom in

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The Tao Te Ching, the classic work of ancient Chinese wisdom, has inspired and guided millions of people over more than a hundred generations. Twenty years ago, Vimala McClure, a mother and teacher of meditation and yoga, was inspired to meditate with each of the concise, profound teachings of the Tao Te Ching and capture its spirit and wisdom in words specifically directed to an audience close to her heart — mothers.

The result, a new classic based on an old one, has encouraged and uplifted mothers for nearly a generation. Even the busiest of mothers can dip into this gentle, comforting book and find wonderful inspiration and guidance.

Product Details

New World Library
Publication date:
Edition description:
20th Anniversary Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.90(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Tao of Motherhood

By Vimala McClure, Tracy Cunningham

New World Library

Copyright © 1997 Vimala McClure
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60868-070-2



    * * *

    Tao is the oneness of all things.

    You and your child come from
    One and journey toward One.
    You are essentially the same.

    Right mothering springs from
    this knowledge: the One in either
    responds to the One in both.
    The bond is oneness, and cannot
    be broken.

    When doubt and uncertainty arise,
    return to this simple truth.

    Be in oneness, and the illusion of
    separateness dies.

    Be still and allow unity to be revealed.



    * * *

    Like the eternal Tao, a wise mother
    gives birth but does not possess. She
    meets the child's needs yet requires
    no gratitude.

    Observe how great masters raise
    up their dearest disciples. Observe
    how nature raises up the plants
    and animals.

    Great teachers take no credit for
    their students' growth, yet they
    will go to any length to teach
    them what they need to know.

    Nature requires no praise,
    yet it provides for the needs
    of earth's inhabitants.

    Mother is the reflective principle,
    the balancing agent for the child.
    Like a guru, she allows the child to
    make mistakes and loves the child
    without condition. Like nature,
    she allows consequences to unfold
    and balance to be restored when
    it is lost.

    She intervenes only when the right use
    of power is required.



    * * *

    Right mothering meets the
    child's need.

    Focusing on what the child should
    not be draws resistant energy. Pointing
    out what the child should be feeds
    self-hatred and struggle.

    Ask yourself, "What is my child telling
    me about his needs at this moment?"
    This is not always easy. One child's
    needs may be more obvious — or
    more acceptable — than another's.

    Meeting needs and obeying
    commands are not the same.
    The wise obey the Divine Law
    and thus fulfill the need of the
    moment through action or
    non-action. They are responsive,
    not tyrannized.

    This has nothing to do with what
    society says is proper. It has everything
    to do with the Infinite Good as it flows
    through the here and now.

    Do not reward performance.
    Rather, respond to Spirit
    expressing the Way. You are a
    mirror with which your child
    sees — and corrects — himself.



    * * *

    Remember, you and your child
    are travelers through infinite time.
    How you interact is important
    enough to change lifetimes of karma;
    yet it is an insignificant drop in the
    ocean of relationship through which
    you both move.

    Keep in mind the endless nature
    of being, and your journey will
    gain perspective.



    * * *

    Raise up your children with
    great reverence for the Consciousness
    that moves in them. Treat them
    with respect, even in their infancy,
    for they are not yours.

    Reverence and respect are not the
    same as worship; children thrive on
    benevolent neglect.

    The child who feels your respect
    during silences is nourished more
    than the child who is constantly
    fussed and chattered over.



    * * *

    Mother is the feminine principle.
    She represents the yin, the anima,
    the receptive, the earth.
    Though she must at times take
    the role of the masculine principle,
    it is the feminine which gives
    her power and from which
    she draws her strength.

    She teaches her daughters to
    respect their feminine nature.
    She teaches her sons to respect
    their feminine side and thus
    all women.

    The truly feminine mother
    never cringes or defers.
    Her strength is unshakable,
    like the earth upon which we
    walk but which can topple us
    with a single deep breath.



    * * *

    Everything which endures can
    only do so because Eternal
    Consciousness gives it sentience.

    A mother who gives herself
    completely to her infant meets
    herself in the dark and finds

    In the hours between midnight
    and dawn, she crosses the
    threshold of self-concern and
    discovers a Self that has no limits.
    A wise mother meets this

    Presence with humility and steps
    through time into selflessness.
    Infants know when their mothers have
    done this, and they become peaceful.

    Who, then, is the doer? Is it the infant
    who brings its mother through the veil
    of self-concern into limitlessness? Is it
    the mother, who chooses to hold
    sacred her infant's needs and
    surrender herself? Or is it the
    One, which weaves them both
    through a spiraling path
    toward wholeness?

    You can sit and meditate while
    your baby cries himself to sleep.
    Or you can go to him and share
    his tears, and find your Self.



    * * *

    Water benefits us without taking
    from us. It cleanses us, nourishes us,
    and calms our restlessness.

    So is a mother to her child. From the
    moment of birth, a child's well-being
    is her only concern.

    A wise mother cleans and discards
    the child's waste without comment.
    The child's excrement, its tears, its
    rages, are all allowed to be and
    discarded without emotion.

    A wise mother does not judge her child.



    * * *

    There is great power in being a
    mother. It is easy to think you control
    your child and his destiny; that you can
    mold him into your ideal; that his
    imperfections are yours to correct.

    The power of a mother's love
    is like gold in a temple.
    Used for personal aggrandizement
    it brings pain and suffering.
    Hoarded, it benefits no one.
    Used rightly, with benevolence,
    in time of great need, it serves.

    When you are about to use
    your power in your relationship
    with your child, think again.
    Is there another way to
    accomplish your goal?

    Retreat and be still. Contemplate your
    choices. When you choose to use your
    power, use it justly, with great calm,
    and do not waver.



    * * *

    Strive for clarity in your own life.
    What motivates your feelings?
    We often live out the past over
    and over in our relationships.
    We sometimes fail to see the real
    child, for we have superimposed our
    own pain upon our children.

    Clear yourself. Find the child within
    you, heal her, and set her free. As long
    as the child in you weeps and cringes,
    your power as a mother will remain

    Polish the mirror of the self and your
    child will see herself more clearly.


    empty spaces

    * * *

    The empty spaces make
    wholeness. The emptiness in a
    pot makes it valuable; you can
    fill it with food or water.

    Pay attention to what isn't. Listen
    for what your child does not say.
    Observe what she does not do.

    Similarly, know that your child
    uses your empty spaces. What
    you do not say resounds. What
    you do not do impresses.



    * * *

    Life with children is naturally noisy.
    Can you find the silence within the
    noise? Can you feel the peace
    within the turmoil?

    If you cannot reflect in the chaos
    of the moment, withdraw.
    Make time for yourself to turn
    inward and digest your life.

    Whether you realize it or not,
    Mother is the pivot of the family.
    Not you, but the eternal Mother
    expressing Itself through your choices.

    To allow the Mother principle
    to work to center your family,
    take time for yourself.
    Otherwise, the self will be
    constantly grasping for its share.
    This grasping obscures the Mother
    principle from within you and
    from your family, and leaves
    everyone alone and lost.



    * * *

    It is said, "She who values her body
    more than dominion over the empire
    can be given custody of the empire."
    Taking care of yourself is your right
    and your responsibility.

    If a mother values herself, her
    children value her. She teaches
    self-esteem by her example.
    Her peaceful demeanor
    communicates love to all who
    come in contact with her.

    Knowing when to sacrifice the self and
    when to nurture the self comes with
    daily mindfulness. Pay attention
    to your body's signals. Observing
    your feelings each day, eventually
    you will be able to take time for
    yourself before it becomes an angry
    demand. This enables you to give
    of yourself appropriately, without



    * * *

    Parenting is at times confusing. There
    will be moments when you truly do not
    know. Should you exert your authority
    or step back? Should you give advice or
    remain silent? Should you offer help or
    allow a mistake to be made?

    When you cannot see what is
    happening, relax and look gently with
    your inner eye. The harder you try to
    take hold of a situation, the more
    difficult it becomes.

    Let go. Trust in the Way
    which follows its own flow.

    Allow the Great to live in you
    and work through you
    for your child's greater good.

    Return to the core: a relationship
    of love is more worthwhile than
    a philosophical position. When
    doubt arises, give way only to love.


    our foremothers

    * * *

    The ancient teachers demonstrated
    their realization of the Way.
    These ancient teachers were often
    women. They were mothers and
    sisters, aunts and grandmothers.
    They meditated. Through their
    relationships, they taught the
    art of being.

    Because they meditated, their
    depth made them seem inscrutable
    and their wisdom profound.
    The truth is, they simply knew
    how to be human.

    They observed behaviors and acted
    with precision and care, never acting
    recklessly. They behaved with dignity
    and grace and won the respect of others
    without trying. They respected others
    and treated children as human beings.

    They were strong yet yielding, like ice
    ready to melt. They were simple, like
    the uncarved block of wood. They were
    receptive, like a valley between high
    mountains. They were full of life and
    involved in their families, yet they were
    able to be still and become as deep and
    clear as pure water.

    These ancient grandmothers did not
    need to go away into the caves or forests
    to become enlightened. They were
    enlightenment itself.



    * * *

    Everything arises from
    Consciousness and returns.

    The universe is the play of the
    rising and returning of millions
    of beings, all becoming One.
    You and your child are both on
    this path too.

    It is impossible to keep this
    awareness of your destiny
    awakened all the time. But daily
    meditation can bring awareness
    to your thoughts and actions.

    Awareness brings constancy to
    your relationships. Constancy allows
    your child to release fear and follow
    his destiny.

    Meditate on Oneness. Release the
    small self to the Infinite, and the
    Infinite will take care of Itself.



    * * *

    A wise mother does not
    unnecessarily interfere with her
    child's life.

    Your children have their own
    process — their own thoughts,
    feelings, and reactions — which
    must be allowed to unfold.

    If your childhood was painful, you
    may get overinvolved with your
    children's lives and smother them.
    Or you may find yourself forcing
    them to think and feel the way
    you do, to adopt all your values
    and live the life you wish you had.

    If you do not trust your children's
    process, your children will not
    trust anyone or anything. Your
    confidence in them builds their
    confidence in themselves.

    Assist your children in such a
    way that they think, "We did it



    * * *

    When you forget that you and your
    children are instruments of the One,
    dogma takes over.

    You begin to think in judgments of
    yourself and others:

    "All mothers should (stay home,
    have a career, be involved with
    school, help with homework, keep a
    spotless home ...),
therefore I'm not a
    good mother if I don't."

    Or, "All children should (be polite,
    respect their elders, help at home,
    get good grades, win in sports, be
    popular, appreciate good music, read
    great books ...),
therefore my children
    are bad if they don't."

    When truth is forgotten, acceptance,
    tolerance, compassion, and flexibility
    give way to judgment, intolerance,
    meanness, and rigidity.
    Hypocrisy follows.

    Children who are closer to their birth
    and thus to the experience of Oneness,
    rightly reject hypocrisy.



    * * *

    Throw away gadgets. Discard
    expert opinions. Forget the toys
    to stimulate intelligence. Don't buy
    devices to simulate what is real.

    Return to the real. Connect with
    your children heart to heart.
    Let them gaze at you, at trees
    and water and sky. Let them feel
    their pain. Feel it with them.

    Touch them with your hands,
    your eyes, and your heart.
    Let them bond with the living,
    breathing world. Let them feel
    their feelings and teach them
    their names.

    Return to the uncarved simplicity.



    * * *

    The real education teaches us to
    be whole human beings.

    Be concerned with this: that you,
    your marriage, and your home
    teach health and balance and truth.

    Any further education merely
    augments this basic course.



    * * *

    The wise remain aware of the
    spirituality of life.

    Every mother has felt the
    stillness and the stir of Eternal
    Consciousness in her womb.
    Remember that.

    Bring that mysterious, silent moment
    into the clamoring present.



    * * *

    Truth is in paradox:

    Surrender and you get
    everything. Bend and be strong.

    When you reach your limit and
    are exhausted, new energy rises
    in you. When you release
    others, they come to you.
    The wise know this: Let go
    in order to preserve.

    Be empty and fulfilled.



    * * *

    There is no natural pouring-forth
    that lasts forever. When it rains, it
    stops. The wind blows, and then
    it ceases.

    Learn to use your words wisely,
    to communicate rather than to lecture.
    Speak your truth, state your feelings,
    then stop. Your actions, in silence,
    speak louder and will be heard.

    Teach your children this:
    A human being is greater than
    a human doing.



    * * *

    Your children are not you.

    To try to show the world what a good
    mother you are diminishes you. To try
    to show the world what good children
    you have diminishes them.

    Heal your insecurity by holding to the
    truth. The One Consciousness flows
    through all without boasting.



    * * *

    Eternal Consciousness is not
    a thing. It has many names and
    no name. It is within and beyond
    everything. It is the essence of
    us all.

    Your child depends on you. You
    depend on the earth. The earth
    depends on the universe. The
    universe depends on the Supreme.

    The Supreme is subject to
    nothing. It is the Great Mother,
    and She holds you in the palm
    of her hand.



    * * *

    Pay attention and stay centered.

    You carry the mantle of "Mother,"
    the eternal principle of balance and

    When your children's energy is
    scattered, be grounded. When
    your children throw tantrums,
    be still. Know what you stand for.

    Be firm and consistent to teach your
    children about boundaries. Thus you
    will root them in health and release
    their souls to limitlessness.


Excerpted from The Tao of Motherhood by Vimala McClure, Tracy Cunningham. Copyright © 1997 Vimala McClure. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Tao of Motherhood 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
GertrudefromMN More than 1 year ago
The Tao of Motherhood by Vimala McClure Quick read if you do it in one sitting. Or leisurely read if you read one lesson per sitting. Eighty-one lessons are included for contemplation and meditation. The Tao includes words of wisdom about honesty, atonement, being firm and relax. Beautiful illustrations accompany most lessons. Everyone will find resonance within these pages. Perfect as a Mother's Day gift.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago