Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men
doesn’t try to force issues
or defeat enemies by force of arms.
For every force there is a counter force.
Violence, even well intentioned,
always rebounds upon one’s self.
The Master does his job
and then stops.
He understands that the universe
is forever out of control,
and that trying to dominate events
goes against the current of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
he doesn’t try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
he doesn’t need others’ approval.
Because he accepts himself,
the whole world accepts him.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 30, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Since Lao Tzu listed human beings as one of the four great powers, he has been showing us how to follow the Tao, by following the earth, as it follows the universe, as it follows the Tao, back to the Source. In the last two chapters, particularly, Lao Tzu emphasized how we, as individual selves, are to relate to our world. In order to follow it, we need to receive it in our arms, be a pattern for it, and accept it as it is. We can’t improve on it, for it is sacred. I really can’t stress it too much. We are dependent on the world around us. It is our dependent and subjective reality. We participate in this reality, both passively and actively. There is yin and yang involved. In today’s chapter, Lao Tzu explains what necessarily must follow from the realization we cannot improve on our world. Indeed, we must understand, the whole universe is forever out of control. Since this is the eternal reality, we must concentrate, not on trying to control the uncontrollable, but on ourselves.
How often did I try to get this message across to my own children, as they were growing up? You can’t control what others do. But, you can control your own self. Today’s chapter is full of elementary lessons we should have learned as children. What a shame it is to see adults, who seem to have failed to learn these lessons!
Rely on the Tao! If you were relying on the Tao, you wouldn’t try to force issues in your relationships with others. Where you find enemies, you wouldn’t try to defeat them by force of arms. You would understand the simple elementary physics lesson, we all should have learned as children: For every force there is a counter force. This is so elementary! Why is there so much surprise! When you use force on others, others will use force on you. This should be expected. No wonder Lao Tzu is always telling us to go back to being little children. We somehow failed to learn the lesson the first time. When you are violent, even if your violence has the best of intentions, it always rebounds upon you.
Today’s chapter is one of the most libertarian chapters in all the Tao Te Ching. It is the non-aggression principle. It is why I am so anti-war. “But, but, they started it!” Yeah, right. “They attacked us!” How easy it is to ignore the history leading up to what we think is a “defining moment”, which somehow justifies our acts of violence. Ron Paul kept talking about the reality of blow back, and he wasn’t taken seriously, and worse, booed. But, I challenge anyone to give me an instance where we were attacked unprovoked. Every excuse we have ever used to begin a war, had a back story. A history of lies and deception. Of deliberate acts of provocation. How very unpatriotic of me! If patriotism is swallowing the State’s propaganda, hook, line, and sinker, I want none of it.
Instead of trying to control others. We need to start learning how to control ourselves. When you are in accord with the Tao, you will do your own job, and then stop. Leave others alone. Don’t try to dominate events, or people. Just let things take their own course. Don’t go against the current of the Tao. Instead, go with the flow of it. Believe in yourself! For if you did, you wouldn’t have to try to convince others. Be content with yourself! For if you were, you wouldn’t need others’ approval. Accept yourself! We have been talking, for the last two days, about accepting the world as it is. Today’s chapter is about the world accepting us. Here is the little secret: It will; if only, we will.