The Way Things Are

If you want to shrink something,
you must first allow it to expand.
If you want to get rid of something,
you must first allow it to flourish.
If you want to take something,
you must first allow it to be given.
This is called the subtle perception
of the way things are.

The soft overcomes the hard.
The slow overcomes the fast.
Let your workings remain a mystery.
Just show people the results.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 36, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

The Way Things Are

Yesterday, we talked about the peace to be found when we perceive the universal harmony. Today, Lao Tzu talks about the subtle perception of the way things are. Let’s be honest, here. The way things are absolutely sucks – if you are looking to force things, or trying to control.

To be told, when you want to shrink something, that you must first allow it to expand. Or, when you want to get rid of something, you must first allow it to flourish. Or, when you want to take something, you must first allow it to be given. Actually, these are the kinds of lessons we didn’t want to learn when we were children. I imagine quite a few people, who are old enough to be adults, still whining, as if they were children. “But, I don’t want to have to wait for it. I want it, now. Now!”

But that isn’t the way things work in our universe. Contrary to the way things may seem to be. And we know this is true. We have seen it demonstrated in nature over and over again. The soft overcomes the hard. It isn’t the other way around. The slow overcomes the fast. But, it is subtle. Oh, so subtle. The way nature works is still largely a mystery. And, a mystery, it will remain. We need to work like that. Let your own workings remain a mystery. Just show people the results.

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