I’ve Got To Be Me

If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
If you want to be reborn,
let yourself die.
If you want to be given everything,
give everything up.

The Master, by residing in the Tao,
sets an example for all beings.
Because he doesn’t display himself,
people can see his light.
Because he has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words.
Because he doesn’t know who he is,
people recognize themselves in him.
Because he has no goal in mind,
everything he does succeeds.

When the ancient Masters said,
‘If you want to be given everything,
give everything up,”
they weren’t using empty phrases.
Only in being lived by the Tao
can you be truly yourself.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 22, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

How difficult we make our lives. Striving, always striving, to become. Instead of being content to simply be exactly who and what we are. We see ourselves as partial, crooked, empty… We want to become whole, straight, and full. And so we strive to become. Never once realizing that we can’t become until we first are. To be transformed I must first be what I am. If I want to be reborn, I must first die. If I want to be given everything, I must first give everything up.

These aren’t empty phrases. You have to be content to be partial. You have to be content to be crooked. You have to be content to be empty. You have to reside in the Tao and be lived by the Tao. Give everything up. Your hopes, your dreams. Give it all up to the Tao. Let yourself die. Be lived by the Tao.

The Master, as always, is our example. By residing in the Tao he lets himself be lived by the Tao. It is because he doesn’t display himself that people can see his light. It is because he has nothing to prove that people can trust his words. It is because he doesn’t know who he is that people recognize themselves in him. It is because he has no goal in mind that everything he does succeeds.

But we are so goal-oriented. We want to become. What will I become? And what can I do to achieve my goals? What can I do to hasten my becoming?

But who, among us, is willing to die to ourselves? Who is willing to give it all up? To be partial? To be crooked? To be empty? To be lived by the Tao?

And yet, this is the only way we can truly be ourselves. Be, just be, and leave the becoming to the Tao.

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