The gentlest thing in the world
overcomes the hardest thing in the world.
That which has no substance
enters where there is no space.
This shows the value of non-action.
Teaching without words,
performing without actions;
that is the Master’s way.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 43, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Today’s chapter is about being, not doing. Don’t intervene. Don’t interfere. Don’t try to control. Don’t force things. Be soft. Be gentle. Be the gentlest thing in the world; and, you will overcome the hardest thing in the world. You won’t overcome it by doing something. Those who do something, always leave many more things left undone.
Don’t do. Be. Be formless. Be without substance. You will be able to enter where there is no space.
I have already written too many words in this commentary. Lao Tzu’s words are picture words. They evoke images. I want to let his teaching, and therefore, my own teaching, be without words. I want to be an example of Lao Tzu’s teaching.
I seem disinterested, detached from all things. Yet, I am one with the whole universe. People all around me are so worked up about so many things.
Why? What does it accomplish? Turmoil. So much turmoil. Like a whirlwind.
“But, you must do something.”
But everything is done. I haven’t left a thing undone.
“Well, we want you to do something about this thing.”
Shh. Be still. This too shall pass. Let it.
“But things may not go the way we want them to go.”
And, if you act, what then? You do not know. Oh, you think you know. But, you don’t. Better to do nothing, than to do the wrong thing.
“But we are convinced we are in the right.”
Of course, you are. But how can you know all the consequences of your actions? What chain of events will you set into motion? Even the wisest, and most virtuous, don’t know these things. Practice doing without doing. When you let events take their own course, you are doing without doing. All things which must be done will be done. And those which shouldn’t, won’t.
This is the way of a wise and virtuous person.