Do you want to improve the world?
I don’t think it can be done.
The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.
There is a time for being ahead,
a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion,
a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe,
a time for being in danger.
The Master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 29, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Yesterday, we were comparing the world to a little child. Lao Tzu told us how to receive the world into our arms. He told us to be a pattern, or example, for it. But above all, he told us to accept it as it is. We, of course, see the world and think that we can improve on it. There is so much that we want to improve. But, Lao Tzu says it can’t be improved. It is sacred. If we tamper with it, we will invariably ruin it. It needs to be treated like a little child, rather than as an object, if we don’t want to lose it.
Understanding how to do this is understanding how yin and yang complement each other. We tend to want to favor one over the other. Generally, I think we favor yang over yin. But Lao Tzu has warned us that we can’t have one without the other. And, we shouldn’t cherish one over the other. They are not at odds. One isn’t superior to the other. One isn’t good and the other bad.
What we must accept, if we are going to accept the world as it is, is accept that there is a time for everything. There is a time for yang to be in ascendancy and there is a time for yin to be in ascendancy. Ours is not to question why it is one way, and not the other. Ours is but to accept that the way things are is the way things are. And, that change is always upon us.
There is a time for being ahead. Good. We like being ahead. Or, at least we think we do. But there is also a time for being behind. And, who is to say that being behind is not exactly what we should be, when we are? Everything in their time. Whether you are in motion, or at rest. Whether vigorous, or exhausted. There is even a time for being in danger. Though we may prefer to always be safe. In fact, we like being safe so much that we create the illusion that we are, even when we aren’t. That is a real danger.
We must be like the Master who sees things as they really are. And never tries to control them. She lets them go their own way. And, so should we. So much of what we see, that we perceive as wrong with the world, and very much in need of improving, is only seeing things in a state of flux. If you truly want to be the change you want to see in the world, then be a pattern for it. Be an example of how you want the world to be. That is residing at the center of the circle. It isn’t a place just to visit. It is a state of being. A place to reside.