The Tao never does anything,
yet through it all things are done.
If powerful men and women
could center themselves in it,
the whole world would be
transformed by itself,
in its natural rhythms.
People would be content
with their simple, everyday lives,
in harmony, and free of desire.
When there is no desire
all things are at peace.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 37, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Yesterday, we were talking about the subtle perception of the way things are. Its workings are a mystery to us. The Tao never does anything. Yet, we can perceive the results. Through it all things are done.
Yes, it is the subtlety of it that confounds powerful men and women. The whole world can be transformed by itself, in its natural rhythms. That is the way of the Tao, the way things are. Centering yourself in the Tao is letting go of your need to control, and no longer interfering with the natural rhythms of the world.
Can powerful men and women do this? I don’t think so. They have their own agenda. They are consumed by their will to power. But don’t get the wrong idea of the role powerful men and women play in the grand scheme of things. Too often, I hear people say things like, “If only we can get the right people in power, then everything will be fine.” And, these same people keep striving toward that goal without ever stopping to consider there is a better way. The corrupting tendencies of power are all too often overlooked. It has a will of its own. Relying on power to achieve what you want to achieve means you aren’t relying on the Tao.
And, it doesn’t take power to center yourself in the Tao. What it takes is letting go of desire. Don’t wait on others to do it. You have the Tao complete within yourself. And, you can center yourself in that reality. Let go of all desires, until you are free of all desire. This is the path to true contentment. A contentment with your own simple, everyday life. In harmony with the way things are.
We think it is harder than what it actually is. We think we must do something. But Lao Tzu is pointing us in a completely different direction. Instead of moving into action, we need to move toward inaction. But if we never do anything, how will anything get done? How does the Tao do it? That is a mystery. All I can show you is the results. All things do get done. It just isn’t the result of your striving, your efforts. Inactive action is effortless action. Stop striving. Let go of all your desires. Then, there is peace.