A Preview of Things to Come

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

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.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

-Lao Tzu – (Tao Te Ching, chapter 2, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

A Preview of Things to Come

Why is there such ugliness in our world? Why is there so much that is bad? In yesterday’s chapter, Lao Tzu identified our problem right out of the chute. It is because we are caught in desire. When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad. Our desire runs smack up against the way things are. If people didn’t see some things as beautiful…as good, nothing would become ugly…bad. You will have to be free from desire to realize this mystery. Caught in desire, you will only see the manifestations.

People can deny the eternal reality, and they often do; but, that doesn’t change it. Being and non-being (what is and is not) 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. This is the way things are. Just as with the law of gravity, you deny the eternal reality at your own peril.

So, what should we, then, do?

Have you considered doing nothing?

The Master, our wise and virtuous example for how to live in perfect harmony with the way things are, acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything.

We will be coming back to this acting without doing anything, and teaching without saying anything, in future chapters. For now, here is a preview of how to put it into practice: When things arise, let them come. When things disappear, let them go. Have without possessing. Act without expecting. And, when your work is done, forget about it. It will, then, last forever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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