They Are Compensating For Something

Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men
doesn’t try to force issues
or defeat enemies by force of arms.
For every force there is a counter force.
Violence, even well intentioned,
always rebounds upon itself.

The Master does his job and then stops.
He understands that the Universe
is forever out of control,
and trying to dominate events
goes against the current of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
he doesn’t try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
he doesn’t seek others approval.
Because he accepts himself,
the whole world accepts him.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 30, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

For the longest time I treated my libertarian thinking as strictly political philosophy. Entirely separate from the rest of my life. It was something I thought about as elections took place. And then, I filed it away; since I wouldn’t be needing to pull it back out, dust it off, and use it again until the next election. I have considered myself a libertarian for as long as I have been familiar with the term (30+ years). But, I was very slow to grasp that personal and political philosophy are not separate things.

I always like it when we have a chapter like today’s chapter where Lao Tzu once again is talking about the art of governing. But just when I start to get all excited about being able to explain how Lao Tzu was the very first libertarian, I am reminded that there is a reason that I tag each chapter’s blog posts with #libertarian. And not just the ones where he is bringing up governing. The art of governing is not something separate from the art of living. The two are one and the same. Yes, Lao Tzu spends a great deal of time speaking directly to those who would be leaders among us. But his words for leaders are no different from the words he speaks to us all. And, would be leaders seem particularly adept at ignoring what Lao Tzu has to say.

Much of the time now, I think calling myself “libertariantaoist” is a bit redundant. Not because you can’t be a libertarian without being a taoist, nor because you can’t be a taoist without being a libertarian, but because for me, personally, I can no longer separate the one from the other. But, I am going to keep my url just the way it is, hoping to teach libertarians about philosophical taoism; and, philosophical taoists about libertarianism. I want to demonstrate that your personal and political philosophy can’t really be two separate things. That the one informs the other. And, it matters little which you think is doing the informing. I am a taoist because I am a libertarian; and, I am a libertarian because I am a taoist. What? You think it matters which came first?

Lao Tzu wants us all relying on the Tao. In everything that we do. That is what the art of living is all about. Relying on the Tao. Being in harmony with the way things are. It matters not whether you are a leader or a follower, you need to rely on the Tao. That makes your world a whole lot better place for you to live. But today, Lao Tzu does specifically address the art of governing. And the advice holds firm. All you leaders and would be leaders, you governors of men and women around the world, if you were relying on the Tao, you wouldn’t be trying to force issues. And, the very fact that you are so blatantly trying to force issues everywhere you turn, is all the evidence in the world that anyone should need to surmise that you aren’t relying on the Tao.

What is force? It is an attempt to control. Oh, how you like to be in control. You manufacture enemies by your use of force and then seek to defeat those enemies with more force. The force of arms. And everybody who isn’t you, knows what is going to come of this. It is very elementary physics that we have learned from an early age. Where were you when you should have been learning this? For every force there is a counter force. Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon itself. This is stuff our parents and teachers taught us when we were children dealing with others in the playground. What? Do you think you have outgrown the lessons of our childhood? That you are somehow more sophisticated than all that? That you are privy to some special knowledge that violates the laws of physics and gets away with the violation? Because, nothing could be further from the truth.

But you don’t let the truth get in your way. You are in a position of power. A position you craved from the first time you didn’t like being told “no” I am sure. And your so-called exalted position of power renders you immune to the laws that the rest of us must live with. You, and you alone, can control and dominate events. I would pity you if you weren’t wreaking such desolation in your wake.

And, how very different is the Master. This one relies on the Tao in everything that he does. He does his job and then stops. How very odd. To do your job and then stop. What? No grasping for something further? No, he does what he needs to do and then stops. And leaves the rest to the Tao. He understands. Something our faux leaders either can’t or won’t. He understands that the Universe is forever out of his control. This is the beginning of wisdom right here. Understanding first, that you can’t do anything about a whole lot of things.

He understands that trying to dominate events goes against the current of the Tao. The current of the Tao is an important concept for us to understand. We talk all the time about going with the flow. About wearing ourselves out trying to swim or paddle upstream. But, that metaphor doesn’t really convey what Lao Tzu is getting at with the current of the Tao. It is much more pervasive than trying to navigate a river. Sometimes, with a river, you very much need to get upstream. Going further downstream, even if it is going with the current is going to end with disaster.

It helps me to think of the Tao as being both ubiquitous and liquid. It is everywhere and comprises everyone and everything. You can’t escape it. Forget your hopes, your fears. They aren’t of any use to you. The current of the Tao is going to bring you through the cycle of life from the Source to the End (which incidentally, is a return to the Source). We have hopes and fears that make us resist that. Some have a will to power. They want to control, to dominate. But this simply cannot be. The way things are is the way things are.

So, what separates the Master from so many that aspire to govern us? It may come as a shock, but I think our so-called leaders, their rightful name is rulers, have a very little… Well let’s just say they are compensating for something. Okay, I am not really meaning some physical thing. I am talking about something a lot more internal than that. They don’t actually believe in themselves. If they did, they wouldn’t always be trying to convince others of how right they are. And even if they believe in themselves they are never content with themselves. Which is why they are always seeking others approval. They want the whole world to accept them. But don’t realize that because they can’t accept themselves no one can accept them.

I would despair if I thought that we were always only ever to have rulers like these. But I see something just round the next bend. I can’t fully describe it, it is still off a distance. But, it spells the end for our present system. And a chance to make things all right again. A return to the Source? Perhaps. But this advice from Lao Tzu is going to come in quite handy then, as it is now. Even if the so-called powers that be never change, their end draws near. Then, as now, we need to believe in ourselves. Be content with ourselves. And, accept ourselves; just the way the Tao has forged us.

It Isn’t A Place Just To Visit

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.

-Lao Tzu-
(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.

Now, The Illuminating Kind Of Light

Know the male, yet keep to the female;
receive the world in your arms.
If you receive the world,
the Tao will never leave you
and you will be like a little child.

Know the white, yet keep to the black;
be a pattern for the world.
If you are a pattern for the world,
the Tao will be strong inside you
and there will be nothing you can’t do.

Know the personal, yet keep to the impersonal;
accept the world as it is.
If you accept the world as it is,
the Tao will be luminous inside you
and you will return to your primal self.

The world is formed from the void,
like utensils from a block of wood.
The Master knows the utensils,
yet keeps to the block.
Thus she can use all things.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 28, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Female and male. Black and White. Impersonal and personal. Today, Lao Tzu continues talking about how yin and yang interact together to create balance and harmony in our Universe. By understanding this, we can understand how to be lived by the Tao and interact as individuals in our world.

He wants us to know the yang, yet keep to the yin. That is how to receive the world in your arms, be a pattern for it, and come to accept the world as it really is. By doing this, the Tao never leaves us, and is strong and luminous inside of us.

Interesting that word, luminous. I said, yesterday, when Lao Tzu was talking about embodying the light, that he wasn’t talking about the illuminating kind. He was talking about light as it relates to heavy. Today, we are looking for enlightenment. The luminous kind. And that happens as we allow yin and yang to complement each other.

It makes us like a little child. A favorite metaphor of Lao Tzu’s. He is talking about a return to to the innocence of a little child. By combining female and male, you get a little child.

There is nothing that little child can’t do. We are talking about potential here. All the potential in the Universe. All bound up in that little child. Lao Tzu is wanting us to return to our primal selves.

So, receive the world in our arms, like we would a little child. Be a pattern for the world. That is like being an example. Like how we would go about training that little child. And, finally, accept the world (that child) the way it is. This is how we go about returning to our primal selves. This is the path of enlightenment.

But let’s break this down just a little more. The world (that child) is formed from the void. Just like utensils are formed from a block of wood. That block of wood is another of Lao Tzu’s favorite metaphors. He has that block of wood representing the void. It is where we find our primal selves. What is that block of wood going to be for us. In its present state, it could be anything, anything at all. But in this case we have used it to form utensils. A block of wood and utensils. Just like female and male. Black and White. Impersonal and personal. Yin and yang. Know the utensils. Know how to use them. Yet, never forget they came from a block of wood. Always keep that before you. That block of wood. That is how we can use all things in this world. Whatever we encounter.

Not The Illuminating Kind of Light

A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent on arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
and keeps his mind open to what is.

Thus the Master is available to all people
and doesn’t reject anyone.
He is ready to use all situations
and doesn’t waste anything.
This is called embodying the light.

What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man’s job?
If you don’t understand this,
you will get lost,
however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 27, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Today’s chapter is, of course, a continuation of what Lao Tzu was saying yesterday about how to be a good traveler. What he said about traveling yesterday didn’t include the idea of being good or bad at it. But with today’s chapter we can see what he was talking about more clearly. I do hope you read yesterday’s post; but, in case you didn’t, I want to touch on some things that will help us to better understand what he is saying today.

He talked about the heavy being the root of the light and the unmoved being the source of all movement. These are important to understand if you want to be a good traveler. Yesterday, we were talking about always remaining serenely in yourself, rather than being blown to and fro. Today, Lao Tzu talks about how to embody the light. And, I think it is important to understand what Lao Tzu must mean by light here. He isn’t talking about light as in illumination. He is talking about light as opposed to being heavy.

There. I did it again. Words can be so frustrating to me. In trying to explain how heavy and light interact together, like yin and yang, I still find myself referring to them as opposing each other. And that is not really accurate at all. I don’t mean to convey opposites, so much as complements. Light needs heavy. Heavy needs light. You can’t have one without the other. So, if we want to embody the light we can’t ignore its root which is the heavy.

This is important for us to understand as we look at today’s chapter and we talk about another yin and yang, the concept of good and bad. But I am getting ahead of myself, let’s begin with looking at the hallmarks of the good traveler, artist, and scientist first.

Yesterday, seemed to be all about the traveler; and today, Lao Tzu continues with talking about that good traveler. The one who has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. I want to remind you, once again, that yesterday, Lao Tzu was spending his time talking about the importance of the heavy. He wants you anchored to home, where your heart is. The heavy, your anchor, your root, keeps you from being blown to and fro in your travels.

Today, we are onto talking about embodying the light. Just don’t forget the heavy. A good traveler isn’t blown to and fro in the wind; but, that anchor doesn’t keep him from embodying the light. In fact, it is because he doesn’t lose touch with who he is, that he is able to embody the light. A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants. Letting your intuition lead you wherever it wants may seem very much like being blown to and fro in the wind. But, of course, reality is very different from appearances. This traveling artist, being good, isn’t letting go of his anchor. He isn’t being blown to and fro. He simply is going where his intuition leads him. In much the same way, a good scientist has freed himself of concepts. He keeps his mind open to what is. Concepts clutter and close the mind. A bad scientist can’t free himself from concepts of the way he thinks things should be. His mind isn’t open to the way things really are.

Traveler? Artist? Scientist? What is it that Lao Tzu is really saying to us today? He is differentiating between being good at something and being bad at it. For the Master, who is good at something, it is about embodying the light. And that means being available to everyone and rejecting none. It means being ready to use all situations you may encounter. And not to waste a thing. As a traveler. Or, an artist. Or, a scientist. You want to be a good one. I know you do.

And that brings us to how the good and bad complement each other. Yes, they are yin and yang as well. I think it goes without saying that we are not talking about good and evil here. This isn’t about moral judgments.

Far from it. We are talking about the relationship between the master and the apprentice. The teacher and the student. In your travels you are going to encounter all sorts of different situations and a variety of people. Many are going to be much better at some things than you are. And, many times, you are going to be better at some things than other people you will encounter along your way.

Lao Tzu wants us to embody the light in order to be available to everyone that we encounter. What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher? What is a bad man but a good man’s job? Every master (or teacher) needs an apprentice (or student). And where would the apprentice (or student) be, without the master (or teacher)? Sometimes I find myself being one and sometimes I am the other. That all depends on the situation and the people I encounter. I have found it so in my own life that whenever I was particularly bad at something, someone that was good at it came along. How fortuitous! I also believe that I have fortuitously come along to help out when someone else has been particularly bad at something I was good at.

That is how yin and yang works. The ebb and flow of nature’s way. But that just shows how important it really is that we aren’t bound by fixed plans and concepts. That we aren’t so intent on arriving that we aren’t available to help, or be helped. It takes a mind that is open to the way things really are. That means being attuned to our intuition and going where it leads us.

This may be one of the most important things for you to know. Lao Tzu calls it the great secret. If you don’t understand this, you will get lost, he says.

Home Is Where Your Heart Is

The heavy is the root of the light.
The unmoved is the source of all movement.

Thus, the Master travels all day
without leaving home.
However splendid the views,
she stays serenely in herself.

Why should the lord of the country
flit about like a fool?
If you let yourself be blown to and fro,
you lose touch with your root.
If you let restlessness move you,
you lose touch with who you are.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 26, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Yesterday, Lao Tzu identified humans as one of the four great powers. Thus, we are great. At the same time, he made us subordinate to the Earth in greatness. I think this provides us with a healthy balance with which to understand how we should act in our world. We are truly great. But, we should temper our greatness with a healthy respect of the Earth. We should always be following it. Its natural rhythms. The Earth isn’t ours to exploit. It is far greater than us. We depend on its richness and goodness for our very survival. Too often, I think we forget that. Or, lose sight of it. And that is our great folly.

Today, Lao Tzu continues to refer to our greatness. He says we are all lords of the country. And how should we behave in a way that is fitting for lords? It begins with balance. Thus, he uses the familiar imagery of yin and yang to show us the way. The heavy is the root of the light. The unmoved is the source of all movement. Heavy and light. The unmoved and movement. How these interact is how we are to interact in the Earth that is our home.

We have a root, an anchor. Not to weigh us down, but to allow us to thrive, even amid the greatest storms. Lao Tzu doesn’t want us flitting about like fools. Being blown to and fro. He doesn’t want us to lose touch with our root. With our home. It is thus that the Master is able to travel all day, enjoying all the splendid views. She never loses touch with her root, with home. Thus, she is able always, even in the midst of great chaos, to stay serenely in herself.

What moves you? What do you allow to move you? Is it restlessness? That is the danger. Being blown about by every wind that comes along. How foolish. If you let restlessness move you, I know what the danger is. It is that we lose touch with who we are.

Point to any problem we are facing in our world today and I can point at people who lost touch with who they are. We know it. We know it when we say things like, “It wasn’t always this way. When did things go so horribly wrong?”

I can’t do anything for the myriad that have lost their way. That have lost touch with who they are. But I can do this. I can return, myself, to who I have always been. I can be serene, even in the midst of all the chaos. I won’t let go of my root, my anchor. And, don’t you, either.

Back At The Very Beginning. Who Is Following Who.

There was something formless and perfect,
before the Universe was born.
It is serene. Empty. Solitary.
Unchanging. Infinite. Eternally present.
It is the mother of the Universe.
For lack of a better name, I call it the Tao.

It flows through all things,
inside and outside,
and returns to the origin of all things.

The Tao is great.
The Universe is great.
Earth is great.
Man is great.
These are the four great powers.

Man follows the Earth.
Earth follows the Universe.
The Universe follows the Tao.
The Tao follows only itself.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 25, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Today, once again, Lao Tzu takes us back to the very beginning. Back before humans. Back before the Earth. Back before the Universe was born. To the Source of Everything. To that which is without form; and yet, it is perfect. It is serene; even in the midst of chaos. It is empty; yet, it contains all things. It is solitary; yet, it is never alone. It is itself unchanging; yet, it is the great bringer of change. It is infinite and inexhaustible. It is eternally present in and around you. It is the Great Mother of the Universe. It is nameless; and, for lack of a name, we call it the Tao.

The Tao is ubiquitous and liquid. It is ever flowing through all things. Always on the move, both inside and outside. Always returning to itself.

There are but four great powers. The Tao is great. The Universe is great. The Earth is great. And humanity is great. These four great powers are listed from greatest to least.

Humanity, being the lowest, follows the Earth. The Earth, being subordinate to the Universe, follows the Universe. The Universe, being the highest creation of the Tao, follows the Tao. The Tao, being itself, follows only itself.

Remembering My Childhood

He who stands on tiptoe,
doesn’t stand firm.
He who rushes ahead,
doesn’t go far.
He who tries to shine,
dims his own light.
He who defends himself,
can’t know who he really is.
He who has power over others,
can’t empower himself.
He who clings to his own work,
will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,
just do your job, then let go.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 24, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

That reference to standing on tiptoe always brings me back to my childhood. I was small for my age, growing up. And I never liked that my younger brother was taller than me. Whenever we had pictures taken together, I was always standing on tiptoe to try and look taller. I didn’t think it was natural that my younger brother was taller. So, I resorted to something unnatural to try and make me appear taller. In looking back through pictures from my childhood, it is apparent. In candid pictures, I look natural. But in posed pictures I am not.

The resistance to being natural is the point of what Lao Tzu is talking about in today’s chapter. Are you a poser, too? Are you always standing on tiptoe? Rushing ahead? Trying to outshine everybody else? Always feeling the need to defend yourself? Do you have or crave power over others? Are you clinging to your own machinations? None of that is in accord with the Tao. And, none of that is going to result in anything that endures.

To those who think they already know, yes, that used to be me, they can’t know who they really are. If you really want to empower yourself, give up your will to power. Do your job and then let go of it. Don’t cling to it. Don’t try to make a big show of it. Instead of trying to shine, let your light shine. Be content to be who and what you are. Let go of all your desires to become something you are not.

It Isn’t Time Yet To Keep Quiet

Express yourself completely,
then keep quiet.
Be like the forces of nature;
when the wind blows,
there is only wind;
when it rains,
there is only rain;
when the clouds pass,
the sun shines through.

If you open yourself to the Tao,
you are at one with the Tao
and can embody it completely.
If you open yourself to insight,
you are at one with insight
and you can use it completely.
If you open yourself to loss,
you are at one with loss
and you can accept it completely.

Open yourself to the Tao,
then trust your natural responses;
and everything will fall into place.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 23, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Yesterday, we talked about how very easy it is to dismiss this as nothing but a whole lot of empty phrases. Lao Tzu has been talking about residing in the Tao. That to truly be yourself, you must be lived by the Tao. What he is wanting for each one of us is that we will be truly ourselves. We don’t think we are there yet. We think we can only hope to become something. Yet, Lao Tzu insists that it isn’t becoming that is the challenge. It is being. Simply being. Can we be content to simply be ourselves?

Today, he is giving us just a little bit more of how we can fully embrace just that. He tells us to express ourselves completely. We never feel like we do that, do we? We always are holding something back. Never fully expressing ourselves. But that is exactly what we must do. Then we can keep quiet and see how the Tao lives in us.

He gives us the example of the forces of nature. We need to be like the wind and blow until we are all finished blowing. We need to be like the rain, and not stop raining until it is time for the clouds to pass and let the sun shine through again.

Being willing to fully express ourselves, without holding anything back, is the beginning of everything the Tao wants to accomplish in us. That full expression of who and what we are is opening ourselves to the Tao. And that is what makes us at one with the Tao, in perfect harmony with the way things are. Having fully expressed ourselves, now we can fully embody it.

What is holding you back from fully expressing yourself? What are you afraid of? Are you hoping first to get some new insight? But you already have everything you need. Just open yourself to it. Be at one with it. Then you can use it completely.

Perhaps, you are scared of experiencing loss. But loss isn’t something we can avoid. It will happen over and over again in our lives. The only way to accept it completely is to open ourselves to it and allow ourselves to become one with it.

What are you really afraid of? Open yourself to the Tao. You can do this. And, you can trust your natural responses. No matter what you may think to the contrary. No matter what you have been told. You can trust you. And, as you do, everything will fall into place. That is what it means to be in harmony with the way things are. To go with the flow. To do what comes naturally to you. At one with the Tao.

Stop resisting.

Not Just Empty Phrases

If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
If you want to be reborn,
let yourself die.
If you want to be given everything,
give everything up.

The Master, by residing in the Tao,
sets an example for all beings.
Because he doesn’t display himself,
people can see his light.
Because he has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words.
Because he doesn’t know who he is,
people recognize themselves in him.
Because he has no goal in mind,
everything he does succeeds.

When the ancient Masters said,
‘If you want to be given everything,
give everything up,’
they weren’t using empty phrases.
Only in being lived by the Tao
can you truly be yourself.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 22, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

I think it is very easy to read through today’s chapter and think these are all just empty phrases. What does he mean? We are driven from early in our childhood to become something. Something that we don’t apparently think we are right now. What do you want to be when you grow up? What is going to become of you? If it isn’t our parents and family or well-meaning friends putting us under stress, we will manage to do it all by ourselves. I want to become whole. I want to become straight. I want to become full. Perhaps, what you are seeking is some kind of rebirth. Whatever it is that you want to be given, you must first give it all up.

What does Lao Tzu mean? How can I become whole by being content to be partial? How can I become straight by being content with being crooked? How can I become full if I am content to be empty? What Lao Tzu is teaching us is to let go of our ambitions. We, of course, balk at this. I don’t want to let go of my ambitions. I want to become something great. How can I become something great without ambition? It isn’t easy to let go of that ambition, is it? It is almost like dieing. Maybe it is exactly like dieing. But, if we want to be reborn that is exactly what we will need to let happen. You have to be willing to give everything up.

Bear with me now, it is going to get better, I promise. Let’s look at what Lao Tzu is getting at as he uses the example of the Master. He says that the Master resides in the Tao. Yes, we are still talking about that. That is our example. That is what Lao Tzu is instructing us to do. The Master doesn’t put himself on display, yet people see his light. He has nothing to prove, so people can trust him. He doesn’t have any goal in mind, and that is why everything he does succeeds.

And now, we may be even more confused. What does Lao Tzu mean? Well, here it is. It has to do with that residing in the Tao. What Lao Tzu is telling us is that these aren’t empty phrases. It is only in being lived by the Tao that we can truly be ourselves. So, let’s take another look at what we want to become in that light.

You want to become whole. Good. Content yourself with being partial. And let the Tao complete you. You want to become straight. Content yourself with being crooked. And let the Tao even out all that isn’t straight within you. You want to become full. Then content yourself with being empty. You will find that the Tao is everything that you need.

Yes, it is a kind of dieing. But that is what it is going to take if you are going to be reborn. You must give everything up. Reside in the Tao. Be lived by the Tao. That is how to be your true self. Please don’t dismiss this as some hokie religion. What Lao Tzu is teaching us is how everything in the Universe works. The Tao is simply the guiding and unifying principle of everything in the Universe. You let the Tao live in you by letting yourself be who you are. You resist the Tao by trying to become something other than who you are. But, it is really funny how things work out. If you give up trying to become, and are content to be, you will become so much more than what you are. That is being lived by the Tao.

You’ll Have To Look Inside Yourself To See It

The Master keeps her mind
always at one with the Tao;
that is what gives her radiance.

The Tao is ungraspable.
How can her mind be at one with it?
Because she doesn’t cling to ideas.

The Tao is dark and unfathomable.
How can it make her radiant?
Because she lets it.

Since before time and space were, the Tao is.
It is beyond is and is not.
How do I know this is true?
I look inside myself and see.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 21, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

We have been talking a lot about letting go of, or throwing away, our ideas of how we think the world should operate. The problems we are facing are only exacerbated by clinging to them. What Lao Tzu is offering to us is being one with the Tao. Being one with the Tao, or in harmony with the way things are, is all about returning to our common Source. Or, like Lao Tzu depicted it yesterday, drinking from the great Mother’s breasts.

Stop trying to grasp this. It is ungraspable. If we are going to accomplish this, we have to let the Master serve as an example. She doesn’t cling to ideas. She doesn’t grasp. She ungrasps. She lets the dark and unfathomable Tao, illuminate her.

I am going to keep my commentary brief today. Why? Because my posts lately have been overly long; though, I hope, illuminating. There isn’t anything really new to say today. We have been saying this all along.

We need to let go and let the Tao. If that sounds a whole lot like “let go and let God” good, that means you are getting it, somewhat. Not because the Tao is God. We covered that in a much earlier chapter. What is God, but our notions of how to make sense of it all? But, the Tao predates our notions of God. The Tao is before time and space. What are time and space but our notions of the way things are? Well, the Tao is before that, too. It is beyond is and is not. What is Lao Tzu trying to say here?

That we are still resisting. We still don’t understand that our ideas of what is, and is not, are holding us back from being in harmony with the Tao. Lao Tzu knows this is true; because he looks inside himself, and sees that it is true. Dare to let go of all these notions. Dare to look inside yourself and see. Let the Tao illuminate you. What do you see?