Returning is the action of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.
(TT Ching, Ch. 40)
What does Lao Tzu mean by returning? Returning has more than one level of meaning.
Lao Tzu wants to return to a time when man was closer to Heaven (Tao). He saw man in his origin in a state of undifferentiated consciousness, of direct apprehension of reality and to some extent Lao Tzu achieved this state. 62 This state of consciousness is seen in the following,
"When the great Tao is forgotten,
Kindness and morality arise.
When wisdom and intelligence are born,
The great pretense begins."
(TT Ching, Ch. 8)
On the other hand, return also refers to the ultimate destiny of all things.
"The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and return to their source....
Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away."
(TT Ching, Ch. 16)
The Tao is giving being and life to all things: rocks, trees, birds, viruses, man, woman and the vast cosmic vistas of creation and everything must return to its ultimate destiny in the Tao. Here the Sage expresses the desire of man for union with the Way which is eternal. Did he believe in the immortality of the soul? In any event, that the Tao as man would enter into the heart of God never entered into the mind of Lao Tzu.
The Tao (Way) who has never left the heart of God as the Word of God now returns as the God/Man into the Mind of the Father in the power of the Spirit. Before returning he said,
"And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself."
And indeed the thoughts and aspirations of Lao Tzu are now drawn toward the reality which he longed for by those who have seen by faith the manifestation of the Tao as Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The angels said to those present,
"Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return
in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven."
Out of his love of mankind, the Way is continually returning on earth in the power of the Spirit, ever drawing our hearts and minds into that mystery which was hidden from Lao Tzu, is revealed to us in faith, but seen only by those glory.
"With Christ, man not only returns to the primordial state which Lao Tzu sought; now he rises beyond even this in the mystical union with the Personal Absolute that was originally intended for man" 63
For a comprehensive understanding of the role of Lao Tzu in Christianity I highly recommend Christ the Eternal Tao by Hieromonk Damascene. Someone has said that to read this book is a mystical experience, and indeed it is.