Can you coax your mind from its wandering
and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become
supple as a newborn child’s?
Can you cleanse your inner vision
until you see nothing but the light?
Can you love people and lead them
without imposing your will?
Can you deal with the most vital matters
by letting events take their course?
Can you step back from your own mind
and thus understand all things?
Giving birth and nourishing,
having without possessing,
acting with no expectations,
leading, and not trying to control:
this is the supreme virtue.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 10, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Six rhetorical questions. Such difficult questions. Much of what I read in the Tao Te Ching seems easy to put into practice. This seems impossible. If I ever wanted to just be able to start all over again, this would be the time. Keep to the original oneness? Perhaps, if I could just return to the oneness of the young child.
Someone said to me that the young child is pure fluidity. It isn’t aware of any separation, so all its movements are spontaneous and alive and whole and perfect. Yes, this, this is what I want again. But, I am an adult. I can’t go back and be born again. Oh, Nicodemus, how little you understand. If an adult body becomes truly supple, there is a quality to its movement that the child’s doesn’t have, a texture of experience, a fourth dimension of time. And, this would be better, yes.
What Lao Tzu is telling me is that what is impossible is possible. But it won’t be through any effort on my own part. Just coax your mind. It hasn’t wandered nearly as far as you might think. And, there isn’t any thing to do to transform your own body. Just let it be transformed. But, how do I cleanse my inner vision? Just look into the light, my friend, keep looking into the light – until, you see nothing but the light.
Can you go through today and everyday without imposing your own will on others? That is how to truly love them and lead them. Can you let events take their course? Must you interfere? Yes, I know these are vital matters. That is why it is so very important to let things take their course. What is more vital than that the Earth continue its path around the Sun? And, what can you do about that? You can’t deal with the most vital matters. That is why you must leave them be.
It always comes back to what Lao Tzu was saying, just yesterday. Do your work and then step back. Step back from your own mind. Then you will begin to understand all things.
It is giving birth and nourishing, without even trying. It is having without possessing. It is acting without expectations. It is leading without needing to be in control. It is the supreme virtue.