To Be A Fool, Or Not To Be A Fool

The heavy is the root of the light.
The unmoved is the source of all movement.

Thus the Master travels all day
without leaving home.
However splendid the views,
she stays serenely in herself.

Why should the lord of the country
flit about like a fool?
If you let yourself be blown to and fro,
you lose touch with your root.
If you let restlessness move you,
you lose touch with who you are.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 26, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Yesterday, Lao Tzu referred to humans as one of the four great powers. Today, he refers to us as lords. Like I said, yesterday, Lao Tzu thinks very highly of us, humans. It could be said that he thinks so highly of us, he sometimes scratches, or shakes, his head and wonders, “Why?” as in, “Why should the lord of the country flit about like a fool?” He has enough respect for us, that he confronts us when we are behaving like fools; and he sets us on a better course. That is what today’s chapter is about.

Once again, Lao Tzu brings us back to yin and yang. That is something we have been talking about since chapter two: Yin and yang create each other, they support each other, they define each other, they depend on each other, they follow each other.

We were talking, yesterday about how we humans follow the Earth, the Earth follows the Universe, the Universe follows the Tao, and the Tao follows only itself. That word, follow, is so important because it demonstrates our relationship with the Tao. We follow the Tao as it flows through all things, inside and outside, and returns to the origin of all things.

And, yin and yang follow each other to bring about balance and harmony, order emerging out of chaos. Today’s yin and yang are the heavy and the light, the unmoved as the source of all movement.

To illustrate the relationship between yin and yang, the heavy and the light, the unmoved and all movement, Lao Tzu points, again, at the Master. He says the Master travels all day without leaving home. Home, here, is the heavy, the unmoved. While the Master’s travels are light, all movement.

Travels, here, are whatever you are doing throughout your day, whether near, or far away from home. That word, travels, doesn’t just mean you are on some long journey. Perhaps your travels are from your bed to your computer, or to the kitchen, or to the bathroom. Perhaps it is out your back door for a stroll in your garden. Perhaps it is to town. Or, to work. Or, perhaps it is on some journey far away from home, whether for business or pleasure. It doesn’t matter. Lao Tzu’s point is that travels are light. They are your every move.

The Master’s every move is rooted. Her light is rooted in something heavy, something that remains unmoved. Each and every day, that is her source. That is where she “stays” no matter how very far she may roam.

Home is the master’s root. It is where she stays. Home, here, isn’t referring to a physical house. To use a well-known cliché, home is where the heart is. Where her heart is, is herself. It is who she is. That is her root. It is the unmoved source of all her movement. No matter where her travels may take her, no matter how splendid the views, she stays serenely in herself. She never loses touch with who she is.

She is our example for how to live our lives, for how to stay serenely in ourselves, for how to never lose touch with our root, for how to never lose touch with who we are.

We humans are one of the four great powers. We have the power to choose our own destinies. We don’t have to sit idly by, while forces we are the lords and masters of, blow us every which way. “Letting” is a powerful force we have at our disposal. But there are some things we shouldn’t “let” happen. Like, letting ourselves be blown to and fro. Or, letting restlessness move us. Why should the lord of the country flit about like a fool?

What moves you? Is the unmoved your source for all movement? Or, is restlessness what moves you? Are you rooted? Or, are you blown to and fro? Don’t be a fool! Don’t lose touch with your root! Don’t lose touch with who you are!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *