Back With More Unsolicited Advice

The ancient Masters
didn’t try to educate people,
but kindly taught them to not-know.

When they think that they know the answers,
people are difficult to guide.
When they know that they don’t know,
people can find their own way.

If you want to learn how to govern,
avoid being clever or rich.
The simplest pattern is the clearest.
Content with an ordinary life,
you can show all people the way
back to their own true nature.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 65, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Back With More Unsolicited Advice

After taking a two day break from the art of governing, we are back at it today. Which is just as well, I guess, since President-Elect Trump is going to need all the unsolicited advice I can offer him.

Yesterday, you will recall, Lao Tzu talked about the Master learning to unlearn, and I said, if we were to learn to unlearn, we would know we don’t know, and that would be quite liberating as we advance in our understanding.

Today, Lao Tzu explains how the ancient Masters didn’t try to educate people. They kindly taught them to not-know. That goes back to what we were talking about yesterday.

When they think they know the answers, people are difficult to guide. But, when they know they don’t know, they can find their own way.

So, you may be wondering what this has to do with the art of governing. And, the answer, of course, is everything. The unsolicited advice I have been offering isn’t going to be heeded if President-Elect Trump thinks he already knows all the answers. But, if he sincerely wants to learn how to govern, he will avoid being clever or rich, realize that the simplest patter is the clearest, and show people, by his own example, how to be content with an ordinary life, bringing the people all the way back to their own true nature.

Now, I am not holding my breath expecting any of my unsolicited advice will be heeded. But, I won’t let that stop me from continuing to put it out there.

Lessons on the Art of Living

What is rooted is easy to nourish.
What is recent is easy to correct.
What is brittle is easy to break.
What is small is easy to scatter.

Prevent trouble before it arises.
Put things in order before they exist.
The giant pine tree
grows from a tiny sprout.
The journey of a thousand miles
starts from beneath your feet.

Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe.

Therefore the Master takes action
by letting things take their course.
He remains as calm
at the end as at the beginning.
He has nothing,
thus has nothing to lose.
What he desires is non-desire;
what he learns is to unlearn.
He simply reminds people
of who they have always been.
He cares about nothing but the Tao.
Thus he can care for all things.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 64, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Lessons on the Art of Living

Yesterday, Lao Tzu talked about something the wise and virtuous have long known, the best time to confront the difficult is while it is still easy. And that sounds, well, a bit obvious. But, we may well be thinking to ourselves, “Yeah, but what do I do now that I have procrastinated, or whatever, and it is no longer easy?” Lao Tzu talked, yesterday, about breaking the large task into a series of small acts. Today, he tells us how to achieve this, how to make the now difficult, easy again.

If you want to nourish something, it will be easy if you first get it rooted. If you want to correct something, get on it sooner rather than later, because the more recent it is, the easier it will be to correct. If you want to break something, first make it brittle; but if it is already brittle, be careful if you don’t want to break it. And, small things are easily scattered. Once again, this is either a strategy for how best to scatter things, or a warning to be careful with things you don’t want to scatter.

Lao Tzu’s whole point is to prevent trouble before it arises. Don’t let it get difficult, or even more difficult, if you can at all prevent it. Put things in order before they exist. Take to heart the lesson of the giant pine tree. It didn’t start out as a giant pine tree. It grew from a tiny sprout. Even the journey of a thousand miles begins at the ground beneath your feet. Those first few steps is where it all begins.

If you rush into action, you are bound to fail. If you try to grasp things, you will lose them. Forcing a project to completion, before its time, you end up ruining what was almost ripe.

What was almost ripe… What a sad commentary for any project!

Yesterday, Lao Tzu said to act without doing; today, he tells us to take action by letting things take their own course. It means the same thing! Don’t force things. Don’t try to control. Calm yourself. Remain calm; from the beginning of your project, all the way through to the end.

The reason we find it so difficult to calm ourselves is because we have vested so much interest in this. But, what if you had nothing? Then, you would have nothing to lose. What if all you desired was non-desire? Then, you would be free from desire. What if you learned to unlearn? Then, you would know you don’t know. And, oh, how liberating that would be to the advancement of your understanding. Remember who you have always been, who you were from the beginning, when you cared about nothing but the Tao. Thus, you were able to care for all things.

How to Achieve Greatness

Act without doing;
work without effort.
Think of the small as large
and the few as many.
Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.

The Master never reaches for the great;
thus she achieves greatness.
When she runs into a difficulty,
she stops and gives herself to it.
She doesn’t cling to her own comfort;
thus problems are no problem for her.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 63, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

How to Achieve Greatness

After spending several days in a row on the art of governing an entire country, today, Lao Tzu turns his attention back to the art of governing ourselves.

I was having tea with a friend, earlier; and, being an avid reader of my blog, he asked me for my thoughts on some of Trump’s picks for cabinet positions. I answered him, honestly. “I haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention to it.” I am, actually, quite convinced that if we spent less time worrying about how our leaders were conspiring to disrupt our lives, and more time practicing the art of self-governing-on how we govern our own lives-who Trump picks, and the things he does, wouldn’t matter very much.

To that end, take a look at today’s chapter, where Lao Tzu explains how those who are wise and virtuous have always been able to achieve greatness. Hint: It isn’t because they set out to achieve greatness. It isn’t because they tried to be great, or tried to do great things.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

And, I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom. But, I would just like to point out, conventional wisdom is often the furthest thing from wise.

The wise and virtuous approach to the art of living is in keeping with the Tao-which does nothing, remember. Therefore, the wise and virtuous-masters at being in harmony with the Tao-act without doing, and work without effort. They think of the small as large, and the few as many. They have learned that the best time to confront the difficult is while it is still easy. So, when they have a great task to accomplish, they break it up into a series of small acts.

Never reach for the great! Don’t try to be great. Don’t try to do great things. Then, surprise everyone, maybe even yourself, when you achieve greatness.

When you run into a difficulty, stop. Stop? But, but….

No, stopping is exactly the right thing to do when you run into a difficulty. Don’t keep running, for heaven’s sake. Stop. Give yourself to this particular difficulty. What does Lao Tzu mean by this? He means that there is a reason you have encountered this particular difficulty; and you need to stop and consider exactly what that may be. Did I fail to break the great task down into enough small acts? Did I bite off more than I could chew? Giving yourself to the difficulty is accepting your own responsibility. So, don’t cling to your own comfort, here, and try to blame something, or somebody, else.

If you will do this, if you will be truly wise, problems will be no problem for you.

What Would Make Us Great, Again

The Tao is the center of the Universe,
the good man’s treasure,
the bad man’s refuge.

Honors can be bought with fine words,
respect can be won with good deeds;
but the Tao is beyond all value,
and no one can achieve it.

Thus, when a new leader is chosen,
don’t offer to help him
with your wealth or your expertise.
Offer instead
to teach him about the Tao.

Why did the ancient Masters esteem the Tao?
Because, being one with the Tao,
when you seek you find;
and when you make a mistake, you are forgiven.
That is why everybody loves it.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 62, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

What Would Make Us Great, Again

What have I been doing for the last several days (beginning with chapter 57)? Well, because a new leader was chosen, and following Lao Tzu’s advice from today’s chapter, I didn’t offer to help him with my wealth (ha!), or with my expertise (I don’t waste that on working in the government); I offered, instead, to teach him about the Tao.

The Tao, you see, is the center of the Universe. And, I don’t see that word, center, to mean a place or location. I see it as a state of being. To center yourself in the Tao, to be one with it, is to be centered by it. It is your source. For balance. For harmony. If you are good, it is a treasure to be found; and, if you are bad, it is a refuge to come home to.

Going back, all the way to antiquity, the Tao has always been esteemed by those who were wise and virtuous. They understood that being one with it, when you seek you find; and, when you make a mistake you are forgiven.

I want our newly chosen leader to see that the Tao is beyond all value. It is beyond honors, which can be bought with fine words; and, it is beyond respect, which can be won with good deeds. No one can achieve it; and, that is why everyone should love it.

It would make us great, again.

How Long Our Shadow Is

When a country obtains great power,
it becomes like the sea:
all streams run downward into it.
The more powerful it grows,
the greater the need for humility.
Humility means trusting the Tao,
thus never needing to be defensive.

A great nation is like a great man:
When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.
Having realized it, he admits it.
Having admitted it, he corrects it.
He considers those who point out his faults
as his most benevolent teachers.
He thinks of his enemy
as the shadow that he himself casts.

If a nation is centered in the Tao,
if it nourishes its own people
and doesn’t meddle in the affairs of others,
it will be a light to all nations in the world.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 61, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

How Long Our Shadow Is

Yesterday, we talked about the need to center your country in the Tao, in order that evil will have no power. Today, Lao Tzu explains exactly what a nation centered in the Tao means. This is a good conclusion to what we have been talking about the last several days. What should putting America first mean (since I have been advising President-Elect Trump), and what should putting your own country first mean (if you are in a position of leadership in another country in the world)? It is the end goal in the art of governing.

Forgive me for having a US-centric focus to my blog. I do think these things can be applied anywhere in the world. But, I make no apologies for living in the United States. And, I will continue to aim just criticism at the governance of my own country, since it does have such an effect (for good or evil) on the rest of the world.

For most of our history (US history), we have thought of ourselves as great, and a light to all other nations in our world. I won’t expend any time either justifying or tearing down that ideal. I just want to accept the ideal as being something we can, and even should, aspire to. It wasn’t just the theme of Trump’s campaign (and the campaign of every US president, ever, probably), it is the theme of today’s chapter.

What would it take to make America great again? What would set us apart, really? What would make us a shining city on a hill, a light to all nations in the world?

It certainly wouldn’t be building a great wall. Walls tend to prevent light from being seen. And why do we need a wall anyway? Why do we ever need to be defensive?

Okay, maybe I have asked enough questions, perhaps it is time to start looking at the answers.

Lao Tzu tells us that when a country obtains great power (as the United States most assuredly has) it becomes like the sea. And, this is the thing about a sea, all streams run downward into it. We all know why that is. It is because the sea is lower. It is its humility.

I would posit, that our greatness is, or was, due to our humility. And, if we are going to be great again, it is going to take even greater humility. If we have somehow lost our greatness (which was the theme of Trump’s campaign), it must be due to the reality that the more powerful we grew, the greater was our need for humility, but we forgot that. We got full of ourselves, and puffed up with pride. That is a recipe for disaster. I would be so bold as to suggest we are ripe for destruction. That is another kind of example for the rest of the world than I care for us to be.

But, the need for humility has certainly never been greater. And, ignoring this advice will very likely have dire consequences. There is a reason we fear. There is a reason why we are on the defensive and thinking about building really great walls. And, the reason is we haven’t been trusting the Tao (that is what humility means). We have exchanged the need for humility with a phantom menace, fear. That is why we feel the need to be on the defensive. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Great nations are like great leaders. They realize when they have made a mistake. And, having realized it, they admit it. And, having admitted it, they correct it. Let’s be real clear here, the mistake we have made is we have forsaken the need for humility. We haven’t been trusting the Tao. When I point out America’s faults I sometimes get accused of “Blaming America First”. I am declared “The Enemy”. And, I have been told I should pack my bags and leave. But great nations, and therefore, great leaders should consider those who point out their faults as their most benevolent teachers. And, think of their enemy as the shadow they, themselves, cast. If you have assumed the lowest place, like the sea has, you won’t cast a long shadow.

And, honestly, how long our shadow is, is really the whole problem.

If our nation were centered in the Tao, it would nourish its own people (putting America first), and not meddle in the affairs of others. That would certainly shorten our shadow. There would be no more darkness. There would be only light. A light to all nations in the world.

Who’s Down for a Fish Fry?

Governing a large country
is like frying a small fish.
You spoil it with too much poking.

Center your country in the Tao
and evil will have no power.
Not that it isn’t there,
but you’ll be able to step out of its way.

Give evil nothing to oppose
and it will disappear by itself.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 60, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Who’s Down for a Fish Fry?

In today’s chapter, Lao Tzu encapsulates all of his teachings on the art of governing into one simple metaphor. Governing a large country is like frying a small fish. I’ve done my share of frying fish, though I am always happy to let someone else do the frying. But, the eating is what I am especially down for, served with hush puppies with lots of butter, taters and coleslaw. Now, that is some good eating. Yum, yum…. But, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, the art of governing, and how it is like frying small fish. In both cases, you spoil it with too much poking.

That means let it be-don’t poke, don’t prod, don’t interfere, leave it be.

Drop that freshly battered fish in the fryer, and leave it be. Let it cook. Leave it alone. Center your country in the Tao and evil will have no power.

Yes, President-Elect Trump, we are talking about what to do about the problem of evil. If you want to deal with the problem, the best approach is to first identify the problem. And, the problem isn’t that evil exists, evil will always exist. The problem with it is how much power it has. And, you can do something about that.

Being as I have been taking on my self-appointed role of adviser to you, and I am well aware I have been offering unsolicited advice for a few days, now, I would like to take this opportunity to say that your predecessors have been dealing with the problem of evil all wrong. They have been poking at it. Prodding it. Giving it something to oppose. And, all along, evil has only increased in power, even prospered.

As you transition in a new administration, I would very much like you to consider doing a much-needed, and seriously long overdue, 180 degree turn with your foreign policy.

I have long thought the maxim, “Know thine enemy” is best read, “Know thyself.” If we would take a good look in the mirror, we’d see our worst enemy staring back at us. But, I also know that you will feel quite alone, in Washington, embarking on a non-interventionist strategy on foreign policy. The powers that be have been gaining power and prospering to the same extent evil has, wherever in the world they have spawned it, by intervening and interfering where we have no business. There is one campaign promise I want you to make good on, and that is putting America first. Historically, putting America first has meant not interfering, not intervening, in others’ affairs. It has pejoratively been called isolationist. But, that has never been a correct representation. Once again, it is only agents of the will to power who want to force things, to try to control, to dominate, who will argue for still intervening, and upping the ante even more.

They will insist evil has to be dealt with. But, you will be dealing with it. Just not in a way that will make evil expand its power. Evil will still be there. It will always be there. But, you won’t be feeding it, growing its power. By simply stepping out of its way, and giving it nothing to oppose, its power will shrink until it disappears, all by itself.

Even More Unsolicited Advice

For governing a country well
there is nothing better than moderation.

The mark of a moderate man
is freedom from his own ideas.
Tolerant like the sky,
all-pervading like sunlight,
firm like a mountain,
supple like a tree in the wind,
he has no destination in view
and makes use of anything
life happens to bring his way.

Nothing is impossible for him.
Because he has let go,
he can care for the people’s welfare
as a mother cares for her child.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 59, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Even More Unsolicited Advice

Well, here we are at Day Three of my offering unsolicited advice to President-Elect Trump on the art of governing. On Day One, Lao Tzu encouraged someone aspiring to be a great leader to learn to follow the Tao, and stop trying to control. If you let go of fixed plans and concepts, you will find the world is fully capable of governing itself. On Day Two, Lao Tzu presented the president-elect with two very opposed methods for governing a country, it is a choice between tolerance and repression. Beware of the will to power. When you let it be in charge, the higher your ideals, the lower the results will be. The will to power thrives on repression. That is why the admonition to not try to do anything, and instead, let things go their own way, is preferable.

I didn’t say it yesterday, but tolerance has gotten a bad rep in the last few years. That is because so many who are the most vocal advocates for tolerance are some of the least tolerant people. They have fallen prey to the will to power. They try to make people tolerant. Great leaders understand, if you want people to be tolerant, there is really only one effective way of achieving that goal, content yourself to be an example of tolerance. To that end, Lao Tzu uses another word, today, which has gotten a really bad rep over the years, moderation. He tells us, “For governing a country well there is nothing better…”

Moderation is something I would like to reclaim as good; so, let’s take a look at the marks of a moderate person, and (dare I hope) maybe the newly elected president will be like this.

The first mark is freedom from your own ideas. That word, freedom, is so important, because it isn’t like the moderate person doesn’t have their own ideas. Of course, they have their own ideas. No one, least of all our president-elect, has gotten where they are without having some ideas. But, we are talking about governing a country, now. And, because governing with repression is something we really want to avoid, because it doesn’t work, not being a slave to your own ideas, your own desires, is going to be key to governing well. Moderation is freedom. And, moderation is the practice of tolerance.

So, the tolerance you will need to practice must be as limitless as the sky. It will also have to be all-pervading, like sunlight. That isn’t to say you are wishy-washy, or a milquetoast. Ignore those who accuse you of this, they are only agents of the will to power, trying to force you into forcing things. Be firm, resolute, like a mountain; while at the same time, being supple like a tree in the wind. You will bend, but you won’t break.

You are selecting advisers right now. And, being as I have appointed myself as an adviser, I suggest you look for those who will be just as tolerant as you need to be. You want the people under you, in authority, to have the same freedom from their own ideas. For, if they, or you, have some fixed and planned destination in view, such that you are a slave to it, you won’t be free to make use of anything that life happens to bring your way. That is what freedom affords you.

Nothing will be impossible for you, if you have this freedom. You will be able to care for the people’s welfare, just as a mother cares for her children. All because you have let go-of the need to control, of the need to force things, of the need to dominate, of the need to intervene and interfere. Nothing will be impossible for you, and the world will govern itself.

Some More Unsolicited Advice

If a country is governed with tolerance,
the people are comfortable and honest.
If a country is governed with repression,
the people are depressed and crafty.

When the will to power is in charge,
the higher the ideals, the lower the results.
Try to make people happy,
and you lay the groundwork for misery.
Try to make people moral,
and you lay the groundwork for vice.

Thus the Master is content
to serve as an example
and not to impose her will.
She is pointed, but doesn’t pierce.
Straightforward, but supple.
Radiant, but easy on the eyes.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 58, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Some More Unsolicited Advice

Okay, maybe I wasn’t being completely honest with the president-elect, or myself, when I said, yesterday, I have no expectations (neither hopes, nor fears), regarding his presidency. That would certainly be my ideal, it is what I aspire to, but I must admit I do yet have some hopes and some fears. This is why I was heartened, this morning, when I read that Trump had requested a meeting with Tulsi Gabbard, and read what she had to say about the meeting. So, having come clean about my lack of complete honesty, I am going to jump at this next opportunity to offer some more unsolicited advice to President-Elect Trump. And, while I am at it, let me give a huge thumbs-up to him for heartening those of us who long to have all neo-cons removed from seats of power.

So, here I am again, with another chapter on the art of governing. I hail from Missouri, aka the Show-Me state, so in that spirit, here comes my commentary.

Show me a country which is governed with tolerance, and I will show you a people who are comfortable and honest… Show me a country which is governed with repression, and I will show you a people who are depressed and crafty…

The choice before you, as you transition into the office of presidency, is between tolerance and repression. Choose wisely. And, as I told you, yesterday, beware the will to power. When the will to power is in charge, the higher your ideals, the lower the results will be. You have promised results. And, I am not opposed to all your ideals. Just be careful. Be vigilant in keeping that will to power at bay. If you try to make people happy, you lay the groundwork for misery… And, if you try to make people moral, you lay the groundwork for vice.

I seriously hope (yeah, there is that word, again) you will think on these things, and be like the Master (one who is in perfect harmony with the Tao). Such a one is content to serve as an example, and never seeks to impose their own will. You can be pointed (you have certainly proven that during your campaign), but without piercing. And, you can be straightforward, yet supple. Such a one is radiant, but easy on the eyes. That, by the way, is not a reference to the orange glow of your skin. What Lao Tzu is talking about is don’t give people reasons to fear you. Don’t just tell people they shouldn’t fear you, show us, by your actions.

Once again, thank you for meeting with Tulsi Gabbard. I think she, or someone like her, would make an excellent choice for Secretary of State. Come back tomorrow, Lao Tzu will have more good advice on the art of governing.

Some Unsolicited Advice

If you want to be a great leader,
you must learn to follow the Tao.
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
and the world will govern itself.

The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
the less self-reliant people will be.

Therefore the Master says:
I let go of the law,
and people become honest.
I let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
I let go of religion,
and people become serene.
I let go of all desire for the common good,
and the good becomes common as grass.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 57, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Some Unsolicited Advice

As much as I didn’t like yesterday’s chapter-to that extent-I love today’s chapter. Today, we get back to what attracted me to philosophical Taoism in the first place, as we begin a series of chapters on the art of governing. And, the timing couldn’t be better, with the US presidential election over with, and a new president-elect. Plenty of others have been offering unsolicited advice and criticism. I might as well take this opportunity to join the chorus.

So, President-elect Trump, allow me to introduce myself. I am just an ordinary guy, living in one of those perpetually red states-but I didn’t vote for you. Now, don’t take my lack of support to be anything more than what it was. Given the choice between you and the other establishment candidate, I actually saw you as the lesser evil. I just didn’t feel any compulsion to choose between two evils. Granted, going into election day, I knew how my state was going to vote, with or without my consent, so you hardly needed any additional help from me. And, the person I did vote for (yeah, I admit it, I did vote), only garnered 3.1 percent of the vote in my state; so, it was only a symbolic token bit of resistance.

This might be a good time to talk about the electoral college. Your major opponent’s supporters are not exactly happy with it, right now. And, I suspect, if the outcome had been reversed, you and your supporters would be the ones complaining about it. But, I just want to say I am a supporter of the electoral college. And, I would be, regardless of the outcome. We are not a democracy. Popular vote doesn’t elect presidents. That is by design; and is, as it should be. We are, after all, the United States; and, our founding fathers did get a few things right. One of these things was their emphasis on division of power between the individual states and the federal government, also known as federalism. And, to be quite honest, I am actually feeling quite thankful, as Thanksgiving Day is just a couple days away, we are not a democracy. The greater evil did not win.

And, being as I am being completely honest with you, I will confirm that I knew, going into election day, I wasn’t going to be happy with the results. It was kind of a given that one of the evils would be elected. And, congrats to you, you won.

So, anyway, maybe I should get right down to the purpose of my blathering on. I happen to have this daily blog, libertariantaoist.com; where I post a chapter each day of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. Lao Tzu, I don’t know whether you are familiar with him, was the father of philosophical Taoism. Anyway, I post the daily chapter, and offer my own commentary, usually making it relevant to the times in which we are living. Hence, here I am writing to you.

Today’s chapter got me thinking of you. I was thinking, as I was reading, of what advice I would give you, if I actually had your attention.

You talked a lot about greatness during your campaign. So, maybe Lao Tzu’s words about what it takes to be a great leader has your attention. And, if you would be so inclined, come back tomorrow and the next day-well, just keep coming back-Lao Tzu has a lot of sage advice on the art of governing. There is a lot of help to be had, if you are willing to be humble, and learn.

Take today’s chapter, for instance, where Lao Tzu encourages you to learn to follow the Tao. What does he mean by that? I understand that the Tao may be an unfamiliar term to you. Please allow me to help. Tao is simply the name Lao Tzu gives for the way things are, the principle that governs our universe. And, when Lao Tzu tells would-be “great” leaders to learn to follow the Tao, he is meaning to stop trying to control. Let go of fixed plans and concepts. Even the ones you may hold very dear. Because, quite honestly, your assistance isn’t much needed. I know, I know, that may be quite a blow to your ego. I get it. It was a blow to mine, as well, when I first heard of it.

But, seriously, the world is fully capable of governing itself. That is really the message of philosophical Taoism. Therefore, we shouldn’t interfere, intervene, try to control, dominate, or force things. We need to let things go their own, natural, way. What I said, earlier, about the need to be humble is very important. The will to power is antagonistic to the Tao. But, through the constant practice of humility, you won’t fall prey to it.

Look, I know you want to accomplish great things. I am just taking you at your word. But, what Lao Tzu has to say is some pretty sage advice. I hope you will follow it. The more prohibitions you decree, the less virtuous people will be, the more weapons you amass, the less secure people will be, the more subsidies you hand out, the less self-reliant people will be.

Follow the example of the Master at the art of governing, one who let go of the law, and people became honest; one who let go of economics, and people became prosperous; one who let go of religion, and people became serene; one who let go of all desire for the common good, and the good became as common as grass.

I am going to continue to be honest with you, because I am an honest guy. I don’t have any expectations after your election. I have neither hopes, nor fears. They are really only phantoms, anyway. You know that, right? I do think you would do well to follow Lao Tzu’s advice on the art of governing. But, I don’t have any expectations that you will. So, I also won’t be disappointed, whether you do, or you don’t. Still, I would very much like you to. And, because I don’t have any expectations that you would ever solicit my advice (no disappointments, here, either), if you don’t mind, and even if you do, I will continue to offer you unsolicited advice, and criticism, right here on my blog as opportunity presents itself. Thank you for reading, and have a “great” day.

Don’t Even Ask Me to Explain It

Those who know don’t talk.
Those who talk don’t know.

Close your mouth,
block off your senses,
blunt your sharpness,
untie your knots,
soften your glare,
settle your dust.
This is the primal identity.

Be like the Tao.
It can’t be approached or withdrawn from,
benefited or harmed,
honored or brought into disgrace.
It gives itself up continually.
That is why it endures.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 56, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Don’t Even Ask Me to Explain It

I was visiting with a friend, and talking about how good I was feeling about how my blog has been going the last few days. Then, along comes today’s chapter. Lao Tzu always has a way of pouring a bucket of ice-cold water on me. Just when I think I have things all figured out. “Oh, you think you know so much, do you? Well, those who know, don’t talk. It is only those who don’t know, who talk.” Yeah, I am not much liking today’s chapter.

Well, I may not like it, but I will endure it – to be like a newborn, to return to the primal identity, to be like the Tao. That state of being is what I want.

So, I will close my mouth, block off all my senses, blunt my sharpness, untie all my knots, soften my glare, and let my dust settle. Wait for it… Wait for it… It isn’t something to be approached. And, it isn’t something to be withdrawn from, either. It can neither be benefited, nor harmed; and, it cannot be honored or brought into disgrace. It gives itself up continually; yet, it endures forever…

Don’t even ask me to explain it. You can’t know it. You can only be it.