He who is in harmony with the Tao
is like a newborn child.
Its bones are soft, its muscles are weak,
but its grip is powerful.
It doesn’t know about the union
of male and female,
yet its penis can stand erect,
so intense is its vital power.
It can scream its head off all day,
yet it never becomes hoarse,
so complete is its harmony.
The Master’s power is like this.
He lets all things come and go
effortlessly, without desire.
He never expects results;
thus he is never disappointed.
He is never disappointed;
thus his spirit never grows old.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 55, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
No Expectations, No Disappointments
In today’s chapter, Lao Tzu tells us to look at a newborn child to see what being in harmony with the Tao is like. A newborn child is seemingly weak, helpless. Its bones are soft, and its muscles are weak. But, look closer. Observe just how that little one wraps its tiny fingers around your finger. Its grip, in reality, is quite powerful. In fact, its vital power is so intense that without any knowledge of the union of male and female, its penis can stand erect. Stop snickering. We aren’t in middle school. And, Lao Tzu isn’t talking about a sexual act. He is speaking, metaphorically, of the complementary relationship of yin and yang. Something so elementary, so primal, even a newborn has mastered it. But, something so mysterious, it confounds those of us who think we know. To further emphasize the mystery, he points out how the newborn child is able to scream its head off all day, without ever becoming hoarse. But, get this, this is a display of its complete harmony with the Tao.
Friends, don’t try this at home. Screaming your head off all day will not just make you hoarse, it will upset your neighbors. They’ll probably call the cops, who will come, break down your doors, confiscate any plants you have, and shoot your dog.
Instead, consider this: There are other ways to tap into the power of a newborn. No, put down that bottle of Viagra. It, also, won’t be required.
Okay, enough poking fun, let’s get serious.
What, do you think, would begin to happen in your life if you simply let things come and go effortlessly, without striving, without resisting, without desire? What if you were to live your life, each day, never expecting any particular results?
Lao Tzu tells us.
No expectations means no disappointments. And, never being disappointed means your spirit never grows old.
This is always good life advice, but I think it is particularly good advice for those considering what a Trump presidency might hold for the future. It is how we keep those phantoms of fear and hope at bay.