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.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 26, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Today, Lao Tzu returns to the complementary relationship of yin and yang, non-being and being. We have been talking about this since way back in chapter two. “Being and non-being create each other. Difficult and easy support each other. Long and short define each other. High and low depend on each other. Before and after follow each other.” You can’t have one, without the other. “When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad.” We will talk about the complementary relationship between the good and the bad, tomorrow. Today, Lao Tzu tells us the importance of the heavy as a complement to the light. And, the importance of the unmoved (non-being) as a complement to all movement.
You may remember, back in chapter fifteen, Lao Tzu asked us, “Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles, and the water is clear?” And, “Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?” We tend to be an impatient lot, we humans. It is a great reason for the turmoil we experience in our own lives.
But no matter how impatient we may be, in practice, Lao Tzu still has a tremendous amount of patience with, and respect for, us humans. In yesterday’s chapter, he listed us as one of the four great powers in our Universe. Sure, we are not as great as the Earth, which we follow. Nor, the Universe, which the Earth follows. And, certainly not the Tao, which the Universe follows. Don’t even get me started on the Tao, which follows only itself. But, still, we are one of the four great powers. Pretty amazing, really. And all the more reason for Lao Tzu to wonder out loud, “Why should the lord of the country (that’s us) flit about like a fool?” Why, indeed?
The reason is we have let ourselves be blown to and fro, until we have lost touch with our root. Too much yang, too little yin. These need to balance themselves out. We need to let them. As Lao Tzu puts it, “The heavy is the root of the light.”
A wise and virtuous person is able to travel all day without ever leaving home. Don’t let this metaphor confuse you. Lao Tzu isn’t talking about a physical home, here. He is talking about remaining connected to our Source. No matter how splendid the views may be, we must always stay serenely in ourselves.
If we let restlessness move us, we lose touch with who we are. This is where patience comes in. Do we have the patience to wait, to remain unmoving. That “unmovement” has to be the source of all our movement. Otherwise, we flit about like fools. We lose touch with our root. With who we are.
Don’t be restless! Wait for it. Wait for it. You have all of infinity and eternity, bound up in this present moment. The right action will arise, all by itself. You will “know” when the time is right. Trust your intuition. Trust your inner vision. Then, move!
For those who are wondering, I am feeling a bit better today. I think it is safe to say, I am on the mend. Though I still have an infinite amount of snot in my nose. Tomorrow, Lao Tzu reveals the great secret about the good and the bad. Don’t miss it!