Ṛta: Divine Law, Divine Way

I first came across the Tao Te Ching when I was in High School. It was like jumping into a cold, clear lake on a blazingly hot day, and I remember reading short passages and just lying on the warm grass, or on my bed, or even on the floor, letting the meanings, implications, resonances and ramifications wash over and through me. The idea that there was a way of being and of thinking that allied itself to that which provides and establishes all that is was mesmerizing.

At the time, I was just beginning to really explore Christianity and the parallels amazed me: the insistence on loving your enemy, on humility, on simplicity and dedication to divine principles that were omnipresent and omnivalent. Thus it can hardly be surprising that I thought of Taoism as a kind of prefiguration of Christianity, the spirit of God revealing something of itself to the ancient Chinese. Naturally, my perception has changed. Imagine my surprise while researching Vedic philosophy and religion for my dedicacy in coming across the concept of Ṛta, the divine, organizing and creative principle (for want of a better term) which was later subsumed and eclipsed by dharma and karma. Our ancestors recognized the same root necessities and relationships that governed nature and named it ‘the Way’ and ‘the well-completed’ or ‘well-joined.’ Put most simply, Ṛta is the Tao!

… ok, not really.

It’s close enough, however, to raise the hackles on one’s neck.


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