The Tao never does anything,
yet through it all things are done.
If powerful men and women
could center themselves in it,
the whole world would be transformed
by itself, in its natural rhythms.
People would be content
with their simple, everyday lives,
in harmony, and free of desire.
When there is no desire,
all things are at peace.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 37, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
We were talking, yesterday, about the way things are. The Tao is the way things are. We run counter to the Tao, when we don’t center ourselves in the Tao, and simply go with its flow. And, I said, yesterday, that means doing nothing. Not intervening. Not interfering. Not trying to control. Not trying to force issues. Let events take their own course. There are things we want to see shrink. Of course we do. But, if we really want to see them shrink, we must, must, control our own selves. Stay put in the center of the circle. Don’t let the will to power sway us from our resolve to keep from doing something. Let those things we want to shrink, expand. Let those things we want to get rid of, flourish. Is Lao Tzu serious? In the immortal words of Sarah Palin, “You betcha!”
Why are we so scared at the prospect of doing nothing? Why do we insist that we have to do something? Lao Tzu does answer that question in today’s chapter, so I will be getting to that. But for now, let’s chill for just a moment, and consider the Tao.
The Tao never does anything. Yet, through it all things are done. Let that sink in for just a moment. In spite of all our fears, all our worries, the Tao is chill, through it all. It does nothing. It doesn’t get all worked up. It doesn’t demand that action be taken. And, it doesn’t jump in there and do something. It never does anything. No matter how tempted we may think it must be to do something. Yet, all things do get done, through it.
This is the way things are. Nature, left to itself, always restores balance. I was talking to a friend, earlier today, about all of our efforts to restore balance in nature. Our departments of conservation are always trying to right the wrongs of the past, by intervening, and interfering, and trying to control, and force things. I am told, I just don’t understand. Humans have really done a number on things. It is up to us, humans, to right things. Incidentally, this is also the excuse I hear from otherwise intelligent people about why we must continue to intervene and interfere, try to control things, and use force in the Middle East, and elsewhere in the world. Yes, they will admit, we did make a mess of things. But, now, we are obligated to intervene and interfere more. I shake my head so much, I must look like a bobble head doll.
Powerful men and women. They are the bane of our existence. If they could only center themselves in the Tao, in other words, if they could just control themselves, and do nothing, rather than insisting on doing something, the whole world would be transformed by itself. By itself. That is the way things are. The Tao doesn’t need our assistance. If, by assistance, you mean jumping in and interfering. The whole world can transform itself, in its natural rhythms. This is how nature works. No matter how much we have interfered in the past. We don’t have to right any wrongs. We just need to stop trying to control. Stop trying to force issues. We just need to stop. If we knew when to stop we could avoid all kinds of danger.
And people would be content. Content. They would be content with their simple, everyday lives, because life would be simple. There would be harmony. There wouldn’t be any of those pesky desires that cause us so much trouble.
Yep! I said, earlier, that Lao Tzu answered the question of why we insist on doing something, rather than being willing to do nothing; and, there it was. It is our desires. Powerful men and women are the ones with the greatest desires of all. I guess that just means, the more powerful you are, the greater your desires become. You never can have enough. Power corrupts more and more, because power attracts the ones who are the most easily corrupted.
Have I mentioned how much I loathe these people? They really are the worst sorts of people. The most easy to corrupt. And, they are the ones we “put in charge”? It makes zero sense.
If we can just let go of all desire, it is the problem we have been dealing with since chapter one, for when there is no desire, all things are at peace.
I really should leave it at that. But, I know there are going to be some of you that just don’t get it. You will agree with me to a point, yes. But, then you will ask, what then shall we do? What about this coming presidential election, for those of us in the U.S.?
I am going to make this brief. Here is what I am going to do about this coming presidential election. And, I would encourage each and every one of you to do the very same thing. I am going to do nothing. That’s right. I am not going to try to choose the lesser of the two evils. How ridiculous! No way am I going to be swayed from staying smack dab in the center of the circle, on this one. I won’t be voting. And, neither should you. I am not going to be swayed to vote for a third party candidate, either. So, don’t try to convince me, that will make any difference.
“Oh, but won’t evil flourish? What happens if the worst evil wins?” Don’t you get it? The worst evil is going to win, no matter who wins. Let it flourish! It is no use trying to get rid of it. Trying to shrink it, won’t help. Let it expand. Don’t do anything, be like the Tao.