Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.
I have just three things to teach:
Simplicity, Patience, Compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 67, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
If Lao Tzu were alive in the world today, I wonder what he would think of the way things seem to be. The way things seem to be, this present darkness; which is the way I describe our present system of oppression and manipulation of great masses of people. The way our world seems to operate; running counter in every way to the way of the Tao, that Lao Tzu teaches about in the Tao Te Ching. I think, if Lao Tzu were alive in the world today, he’d look at me and shake his head before saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” If I told him that a lot of people are suffering from mental illnesses today, I think he would tell me that is because we are running counter to the Tao. That the only truly insane ones, are the ones that think they are sane.
Many of us look out at the world and we can just sense that there is something wrong with the world. Maybe we can’t quite put a finger on the exact problem, but something is definitely wrong. Others seem to behave like the world as it appears is the only reality. They don’t think anything is wrong. And those that disagree must be the crazy ones.
For me, Lao Tzu’s teachings are timeless. No matter how much things have changed since he was alive and writing about the Tao, things are pretty much the same. Our rulers may have become more sophisticated; but their methods haven’t changed.
But, after years of indoctrination in the way things appear to be, is it any wonder that some people will say that Lao Tzu’s teaching is nonsense. I have heard that very criticism before. Others call it lofty but impractical. That is, by far, the majority opinion. Lao Tzu was idealistic. You can’t seriously expect to put his teachings into practice in your daily life.
My heart literally aches for people like these. So brainwashed. So inured in the system. They can’t begin to dream or imagine a reality other than the dystopia they presently endure. Sometimes I wonder if people even dream or imagine anything anymore. They behave like mindless automatons, performing their necessary daily functions, oblivious to the death that awaits them. No, wait. They aren’t oblivious to it. They are numb to it. And they welcome it. It is their only ticket to freedom. They have no freedom, now, to live, to dream, to imagine that the world could be so very different than the way it has always seemed to be.
These are people seemingly incapable of looking inside themselves. And that is what makes me the saddest. For, it is only in looking inside yourself that you can see that all of this nonsense makes perfect sense. That is really the first and most crucial step. As long as we are always ever looking outside ourselves, we will never see the truth, the eternal reality behind the illusion.
We have to begin with that first step; then, we can begin to put Lao Tzu’s teachings into practice. For once we start to do that, we will see this loftiness, this idealism, has roots that go deep.
Lao Tzu calls the things he teaches our three greatest treasures. Look inside yourself, you’ll see that too.
Be simple in your actions and in your thoughts. When you do that, you will find yourself returning to the source of your being.
Be patient with your friends and your enemies. This is the only way to accord with the way things actually are in the Universe. This one has always tickled me, because I know that it takes a whole lot more patience on their part, to put up with the likes of me.
Be compassionate toward your own self. This may be the greatest treasure of them all. For when you do this, when you treat yourself with compassion, then you can begin the reconciliation of all beings in the world. How is that possible? Look inside yourself. It is all in there. The reconciliation of every being in the world is inside of you. That is why you need to be compassionate toward yourself.
Simplicity. Patience. Compassion. Put these teachings, these treasures, into practice in your own daily life. You can do this. And as you do, you will find that your world has changed into a much better place.