My teachings are easy to understand
and easy to put into practice.
Yet your intellect will never grasp them,
and if you try to practice them, you’ll fail.
My teachings are older than the world.
How can you grasp their meaning?
If you want to know me,
look inside your own heart.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 70, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Learning How to Yield
I entitled yesterday’s post “Know How to Yield.” But today I want to admit, “knowing how to yield” was something I personally struggled with for quite some while. It seemed easy enough to understand, and to put into practice; but, try as I might, I found it incredibly difficult.
The answer stared me right in the face as I read through today’s chapter, over and over again. I was the one making it difficult. I was trying to grasp at understanding with my intellect. And, I was trying (using effort) to put it into practice. That is what doomed me to failure.
Finally, I gave up. Literally. That is what I did. I threw up my hands in surrender. Having stopped trying to not do, and knowing I didn’t know, I had my solution. Oh, there was a little more to it than that. I also took some time to patiently look inside my own heart. There, I found darkness.
Darkness in my own heart?
Your intellect will tell you that must be a bad thing. But, what I found wasn’t all bad. Sure, I saw my own proclivity to want to do something. I saw my desire to intervene and interfere, to try to force things, to dominate, to control. And, I didn’t like what I was seeing. It almost made me want to turn away, in disgust. But, I peered deeper into that darkness, and I discovered something else.
I discovered my own light. Perhaps, you might call it my better angel. It was pretty much the yin to the yang I had first found. That, I have been nurturing over the many months since I discovered it.
I haven’t always succeeded at this. Sometimes, I get all worked up, and yang prevails. But, more and more, yin complements that. It doesn’t take me as long to realize when I have made a mistake, and not too much longer to admit it, and then correct it. I spend a lot of time sitting alone out in my back yard, just being, rather than trying to become. I have learned how to yield, the virtue of minding my own business, the virtue in compassion, moderation, and humility. And, you know what? I am content.