Avoiding Extremes, Residing at the Center

Do you want to improve the world?
I don’t think it can be done.

The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.

There is a time for being ahead,
a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion,
a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe,
a time for being in danger.

The Master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 29, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Avoiding Extremes, Residing at the Center

In yesterday’s chapter, Lao Tzu explained how yin and yang need to be worked with to form a proper relationship for individuals with our world. Why is this so important? Because, there are those who, if given power, will try to improve the world. The balancing of yin and yang nips that notion in the bud. The world is sacred! And, it cannot be improved. Tampering with it, only causes ruin. Treating it like an object, only results in its loss. That is my worry when I hear those who chart out their plans for trying to control things, rather than letting them go their own way. It is so much better to let yin and yang balance things out.

There is a time for being ahead, but there is also a time for being behind. There is a time for being in motion, but there is also a time for being at rest. There is a time for being vigorous, but over exertion brings on exhaustion. There is a time for being safe; but, if we aren’t careful, and try to force things, we will bring grave danger upon ourselves.

See things as they are. And, accept that the way things are is the way things are. This is sacred. Don’t touch it. Don’t tamper with it. Don’t try to control. Let it be, when you are behind; and you will soon enough be ahead. Rest when you need to rest; and you can be in motion when it is time for motion. When you are exhausted, it is because you were overly vigorous. Rest. Rest. Beware of extremes. Reside at the center of the circle.

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