Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men
doesn’t try to force issues
or defeat enemies by force of arms.
For every force there is a counter force.
Violence, even well intentioned,
always rebounds upon itself.
The Master does his job and then stops.
He understands that the Universe
is forever out of control,
and trying to dominate events
goes against the current of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
he doesn’t try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
he doesn’t need other’s approval.
Because he accepts himself,
the whole world accepts him.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 30, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Lao Tzu has been instructing us on our roles in the world as lords of the country. He certainly doesn’t want us flitting about like fools. And nothing is more foolhardy than trying to control outcomes. We can’t improve on the world. It is a sacred thing. Stay in the center of the circle and let everything take its own natural course.
And so, naturally, today, Lao Tzu comes to the art of governing. It is natural that there will be leaders and there will be followers. Today’s instructions are for those that take their lordship to the next level. Those who want to be leaders.
Lao Tzu’s instructions for would be leaders, are really the same as for all of us. He wants us to rely on the Tao. Trust in the way things are. If we do that, we won’t try to force issues. Or defeat our enemies by force of arms. And Lao Tzu reminds us of something that everyone should already know and understand, but our rulers never seem to get. For every force, there is a counter force. Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon itself.
With my tumblr blog, I often feel that I am “preaching to the choir.” Still, it is my hope that these chapters from Lao Tzu, and my humble commentary on them, gives you all, not only something to think on, but things that you, too, can share with people you are encountering in your every day lives.
Tune into the news from all over the world and it is rather grim. Even if I give my own government the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the violence they are perpetrating all over the globe is well intentioned, I can’t begin to forgive the ignorance and folly of our continued practice in the face of overwhelming evidence that our policies are rebounding upon us.
Actually, I have long ago given up the notion that any of our elected officials actually have any real power to bring change to our policies. It is my belief that the powers that be are invisible to us. And our elected officials, which are visible to us, are mere puppets on strings, wholly incapable of acting in defiance of the ruling elite’s goals.
But, if that is the case, then what value do Lao Tzu’s lessons have for us? As I have said before, I am trying to prepare a people who are largely ignorant of our true situation. I encourage people to make the powers that be irrelevant in our own lives. Live your life free, or as free as you can be. Render the system obsolete in your own life. Don’t be dependent on it. Because the day will come, when the inevitable collapse will happen. Our present system is unsustainable. It is only a matter of time.
I apply Lao Tzu’s teachings to my own life, without any regard for whether anyone else does. And I am especially thinking of the ruling elite as those who I don’t think will ever change their course.
I want to be like the Master, who does his job and then stops. He understands that the Universe is forever out of his control. He seeks to go with the current of the Tao; so, he doesn’t try to dominate events. If I am going to be more and more like the Master with each passing day, I have to do a better job of believing in myself. That means I don’t have to try and convince others. I have to do a better job of being content with myself. That means I don’t need other’s approval. And, I have to do a better job of accepting myself.
Accepting myself is closely tied to accepting that the way things are is the way things are. The Tao is luminous inside of me. I know this is true, even when I have a hard time seeing that light. But I don’t have to concern myself with shining my own light. I just need to let the Tao shine in and through me. As I accept myself, I find that the whole world accepts me.
This hearkens back to what we have been talking about the last couple of days. It is about our relationship with the world around us. And how we are to behave as lords of the country. We need to receive the world in our arms, to really embrace it. We need to be a pattern for the world, to be an example of the art of living as individuals in community with each other. We need to accept the world as it is, not try to change it. And, that will take accepting who we are in the world.