Whoever is planted in the Tao
will not be rooted up.
Whoever embraces the Tao
will not slip away.
Her name will be held in honor
from generation to generation.
Let the Tao be present in your life
and you will be genuine.
Let it be present in your family
and your family will flourish.
Let it be present in your country
and your country will be an example
to all countries in the world.
Let it be present in the Universe
and the Universe will sing.
How do I know this is true?
By looking inside myself.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 54, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Yesterday, Lao Tzu hit me over the head with a stick because I had been complaining about how hard what he was asking is. He said the great Way is easy. It is only that we prefer the side paths. That is why it seems so hard. Lao Tzu wanted us to beware when things are out of balance, and to stay centered in the Tao. But really, how easy is it to stay centered in the Tao?
Today, Lao Tzu offers some further insight into the ease with which we can stay centered in the Tao. If only we will let it happen. He says, it is like being planted. I have done a little gardening. I know something about planting. I know that when I plant things, if I immediately pull them back up, it is easy to do. But, if I let what I have planted take root in the soil. If I give it time and sunshine and water. That thing that I have planted, isn’t going to easily be uprooted.
This is useful information when we are planting ideas in the fertile soil of a mind. I work with children, with tutoring. I am always planting ideas and then giving them lots of reinforcement over the next days, weeks, and months. Those ideas take root and they flourish. That is good.
Of course, there is the not so good side. We, who are trying to inculcate liberty in the minds and hearts of those around us, are encountering plenty of resistance. Because we are having to deal with ideas that have long ago been planted and nourished. And, those ideas have taken root. We have to get rid of these weeds first; if ever we are going to get our plants growing.
But, whether you are thinking about the weeds you want to uproot or the things you are planting, the point remains the same. Once something has taken root, it is very hard to uproot it.
Lao Tzu is keeping it positive today. So, set aside your thoughts of weeds, for now. Instead, let’s get back to the path we were on. I meandered there a little. We were talking about being centered in the Tao. And Lao Tzu compares it to being planted in the Tao. Are you a whoever? I know I am. If you are, too, I have good news. The Tao will hold onto you. Be planted in the Tao and you won’t be rooted up.
Perhaps all of us have that one person in their life. You know the one. You never want to give them a hug. Even though you have to. But, you really don’t want to. Because you know, once you start hugging them, they just won’t let you go.
But, we are going to keep this positive today. So forget, for now, that one person. Instead, focus in on that other person, the one you want to embrace; and, you want them to hold onto you, and never let you go. I like that image a whole lot better. And, that is exactly what embracing the Tao is like. You won’t slip away. You won’t want to. And, have no fears, you won’t.
Being centered in the Tao is like that. It is that easy. You are rooted. Grounded in reality. You are held in a sweet and warm embrace, and you never slip away. Generations will come and go, and the Tao is still there.
How easy is it? Just let the Tao be present in your life. Let it. Don’t interfere with the way things are. Don’t wander down those side paths. Just let the Tao be present in you, in your life. That is how to keep it real.
It begins with you. It always begins with you. Or in my case, me. It begins with me. Keeping it real by letting the Tao be present in me. But it never ends with just me. Those roots run deep and they spread far and wide. If you will let it. If I will let it. Let it be present in your family, too. I know many of you have relationship problems in your family. I have seen you posting about them. But this is for you too. You, and your family, have wandered down side paths. It is time to get centered in the Tao. It begins with you. Letting the Tao be present in your family.
How do I do this? Well, it helps to understand all that the word present means. It means the Tao is here. And, the here is now. The past has taken us down side paths. The future that we are envisioning? More side paths. The Tao is here and now. But, what special thing do I have to do? Let it happen. Don’t fight it. Don’t resist it. Let things come and go, both the good and the bad. Let things come, work to shape them as they do. And, when they go, let them. Don’t hold onto them. Then, your family will flourish.
But, I can’t make my family do any of this. Of course you can’t. But who said anything about forcing anyone to do anything? This isn’t about making anyone do anything. This is about letting the Tao be present, first of all in your life; and then, letting it flow out from there, as far and wide as your own personal sphere of influence.
It isn’t as difficult as we make it out to be. It is as easy as letting. Don’t try to make the Tao be present in your family. That isn’t going to work. For that matter, don’t try to make it be present in your own life. It isn’t about trying. It isn’t about making something happen. It is about letting. The Tao is simply the way things are. Let things be the way they are. Go with the flow of nature. Its natural rhythms. We are beset on all sides because of all the unnatural things we are trying to accomplish. Work with nature, instead of against nature.
Keep letting. Keep on letting. Soon you will find yourself letting the Tao be present in your own country. This one is particularly troubling to us libertarians. We are often tempted to apply force here. How very un-libertarian of us. But I have been just as guilty as anyone else. Still, that is the past. We are talking about the present. The here and now. We let the Tao be present in our country. How? Not how, just let. Ride the wave. Let things come and go. Just like you do with your family. With yourself. Shape things as they come. And when they go, let them go. Don’t hold onto them. Just go with the flow. Be an example, and those you influence will become an example.
But, but, my own personal sphere of influence doesn’t extend all the way to my nation’s capitol? So? Why are you concerning yourself with something outside of your personal sphere of influence? What exactly do you think you are going to accomplish with that? Look, this is how I see it. I have over 1200 followers with access to my little blog post each morning. That might not seem like much to you, but it is huge to me. Jesus, by comparison, had 12. And, look what he accomplished. The point is that those over 1200 people each have their own personal spheres of influence that spread much farther than my own. I am planting seeds. They are taking root, and they are spreading far and wide. Far greater distances than I could have imagined or dreamed before I started doing this.
Let’s just keep on letting. Soon, my friends, soon, we will hear the Universe sing. You wouldn’t doubt this if you would just look inside yourself and see.