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3/1



Stop trying to be holy.
Stop making rules for behavior.

Stop demanding that people behave according to your wishes.
Stop seeking privilege and profit.

Stop trying to be clever.
If you stop these fruitless pursuits,

people will naturally find kindness, compassion,

and right action arising in their hearts.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 19



I sometimes think that,

if I were clever enough…

and if I were good enough…

and if I were powerful enough…

then I could make everything better.

But I know I would only make things worse.

It is always the case.

Healing will occur when I stop interfering.

Freedom will arise when I stop clutching

to ideas and desires.



The desire to “do good” is ubiquitous in human society. That desire is wedded, however, to a subtle impulse to control; to make other people behave as we think they should. It appears in every level of society and of personal relationships, but of the places I have noticed it the most over they years is in the relationship between parent and child. “I only want what is best for my child,” is a refrain I have heard throughout my life. Yet it is a sentiment that easily covers a multitude of control issues: “so its only normal that I should teach him to… go to college, get a good job, marry a nice person, make money, mow his lawn, etc, etc, etc.” How’s it been working for us?



3/2




If you don’t know what to do,
just stay quiet, see without judgment,

and live with simplicity.
Things will take their course.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 19



Of course I often don’t know what to do.

I’m trying to do so many things!

Which spinning plate needs my attention now?

Which crisis is most critical?

If I don’t hurry, make quick decisions,

and judge things rightly,

I won’t make progress.

I won’t be a success.

I won’t… won’t what?



Simplicity has been a dominant teacher in my life over the past twenty years. I am still learning its lessons and am so very grateful for the freedom and joy the study has brought me. When life is composed of a few beautiful, useful, and joy-filled elements, I find that knowing what to do is less of a concern. I can see how the dance of coming and going, gaining and losing, life and death can be experienced without unnecessary confusion and complication. Emotions are purer. Happiness is richer. Sadness is deeper but cleaner and briefer. Things actually do take their course.


3/3


Stop fretting and worrying about the twin illusions called,

“Success” and “Failure.”
These illusions keep us restless,

stirred up and disturbed;
always looking for the next thing in hopes

that it will finally satisfy.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 20



One of the reasons I am able

to call myself a, “happy man,”

is that many years ago I stopped:

I stopped trying to succeed;

I stopped trying to avoid failure.

Oh, the ideas still flit around in my daydreams,

just a bit.

But they have no sticking power.

They float on through

and I look around at the snow,

the firewood, my spouse,

and the beauty of the Holy Mountain

and know I am a happy man.



Oh, I go through moods and the occasional rant of outraged exasperation. Of course I do. How could I not? But the old socially conditioned worries about “making a success of my life” have dropped away. How tragic that we have been conditioned to believe that the simple gift of life needs to be justified in societal terms of success or failure. It’s just life. It’s simply a gift. It needs nothing else but to be appreciated and enjoyed - separate from striving and seeking for something that is already here.



3/4



Watch life with the openness of an infant

before it learns discrimination.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 20



We call infants,“innocent,”

because their minds do not grasp ideas;

do not hold convictions;

do not clench an identity;

and do not judge events.

The sage is one whose mind

has returned to innocence.

It retains wisdom,

but grasps nothing.

It remains as open as the sky.

Therefore it welcomes all things.



Most adults pride themselves in their ability to discriminate; between success and failure, good and bad, right and wrong, friend and enemy, and every other kind of polarity. As the mind enters the final stage - the “Sage” state - it returns to the openness of infancy. It is not feeble or senile, but it has room for wonder, joy, and awe. It has emptied out the musty mental junk - cleaned the attic, so to speak. It becomes a house filled with joy.



3/5



Our conditioned mind wants control,

purpose, and achievement.
But the Tao blows us where it will;

it’s wave carries us and it alone

will bring us safely to the shore.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 20



What kind of control are we seeking?

Who said that purpose, defined by others,

was necessary?

Where did the need for achievement come from?

Do these things ever deliver on their promises?

The paradigm that governs our culture

has no place for the wanderer;

yet the wanderer remains the symbol

of the freedom and joy for which we long,

even as we pooh-pooh it

and call it irresponsible.



Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha). Jesus Christ, Lao-Tzu, and every other revered teacher in human history lived a life that does not stand up to the scrutiny of our society. They seldom held a job. They died with no possessions. They depended on their connection with the Divine Life for all their needs. They distrusted social conventions. They ignored the customs others thought necessary. If they were alive today the social workers would be lined up to help them get benefits and become better-adjusted members of a maladjusted society. Still there is something about their message that kindles a longing within us. It is a good thing society has coopted their words and is able to turn a profit off their statues in the marketplace. Who knows what sort of trouble they might lead to otherwise?



3/6



How can we let the Tao be our guide?

It is without form, elusive, vague.

What is there to hold on to?
Is it even real?

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 21



Elusive and vague are not the qualities

I look for in a guide.

I want precise road maps

that show every twist and turn

along the way;

along with concrete assurances

of a pleasant journey,

and a safe arrival.

So why do I let myself be guided

by something like the Tao?

I think its very mystery

makes me trust it.




In an era of empty promises and glib assurances offered by prophets of every description, sacred and secular, it is reassuring for me to know that the Tao is an unfathomable mystery. That it simply offers itself to all living beings as the All; the basic Life of the Cosmos in which we are forever contained and of which we are forever a part. No need for guidance when we are always at home no matter how far we seem to travel.



3/7



The Taos elusiveness
prevents it from becoming an idol.
Its vagueness keeps us mindful of the moment

and alert to what is happening now.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 21



We love to make idols and invent gods;

sometimes out of jewels and stone,

but usually out of beliefs and fears.

Encasing god with rules and laws

brings a comforting illusion of control;

of knowing who is who,

and what is what,

and how things ought to be.

Following the Tao requires

letting go of knowing who,

and what, and when, and how;

and simply paying attention to the now.



When I was very young I studied theology. I even received a Master’s degree in it. Think of that! I have a Master’s degree in god! Oh my soul, I’m so embarrassed. Then I went on to teach theology to others. Oh dear. All the while the Tao was flowing on, carrying me and all other beings in its eternal dance of light and energy; refusing to be an object of study. You can see why the label, “Taoist teacher,” makes me very uneasy indeed. What we are doing together is not the study of a subject. It is simply a practice of observing“the Way things work,” and sharing our experiences.



3/8





The Tao Big Banged the universe into being.

How can we know the Tao?
Look deeply.

What do you see?

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 21



The mysteries of the most elusive

sub-atomic “particle/waves,”

and the mysteries of the galaxies

in their billions strewn across infinity

are the same Mystery.

It cannot be known by the largest radio-telescope

or by the most powerful electron microscope.

It can only be known by becoming it.

You are as complete an expression of the Tao

as is the Cosmos itself.



My body is composed of billions of what we call “atoms.” The electrons spinning about the nucleus of each atom (actually “clouds of electron energy”) are as far from the nucleus, proportionally, as is Pluto from the Sun. These billions of “systems of mostly empty space” are what make up “Bill.” If we could understand, for even a moment, the truth of this, we would see that we don’t have to fathom the Mystery of existence: we are that Mystery.



3/9



What is, is!
And it is perfect.

What is not, is not.

Only illusion.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 22



Here and now are the perfect

place and time

to begin.

No other place will be as precise.

No other time will be as propitious.

If I keep looking for another place,

and some future time,

to start my “real life,”

I will miss the perfection

of this moment.



A navigator on the ocean can not plot a course until the ship’s present location is established. Once that position is known, the journey can begin. Even if the present position of the ship is fraught with peril, storm, and trouble, it is the place from which the journey always begins and it is always the perfect starting point. This is why the Tao Te Ching is able to say that life is always “perfect” - not because it is always comfortable or joyful, but because it is always the place from which the journey starts.



3/10



Accepting what is, we find it to be prefect.

What seemed distorted is seen as true.

What seemed lacking is seen as abundant.

What seemed worn out is seen as fresh and new.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 22



It is the deceit of propaganda

that tells us we are mistaken

when we trust our intuition.

It is the deception of commerce

which suggests that we should buy something

that we apparently didn’t know we lacked.

Nothing new is needed

to make our lives complete.



In general, we are not encouraged to trust ourselves. The truth, we are told, lies somewhere outside of us. Perfection is always out of reach, something for which we must forever strive. Pretend for a moment that this is not true. Pretend that who you are and what you have right now is enough. Pretend that you are content, creative, and competent. This perspective is not encouraged by conditioned mind. Conditioned mind depends on always having something to criticize and fix; something to keep pushing us to improve. But true “improvement” comes from the joy and freedom of the perfect present moment.




3/11



When we follow the Tao,

our actions nurture all things.

We don’t need to attract attention

so people are not distracted.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 22



When people pay attention to us,

instead of to their inner selves,

we have done a great disservice,

even though our cause seems significant.

It feels nice,

but helps no one.

Better to be unnoticed,

except perhaps to whisper a word

that comforts, strengthens, truly helps.



May I be permitted once again to take a pot shot at FaceBook? I admit some benefits can be found in social media, but reinforcing the desire to be noticed is not one of them. We are all conditioned to believe that there is benefit in notoriety. To be noticed is to be validated; taken seriously; appreciated. As an author I realize that notoriety translates into book sales. But it is not in keeping with the way the Tao works. All notoriety is distracting. It calls attention to the side issues of personalities rather than to the work at hand. To seek attention is to participate in distraction and to blunt any message we may want to communicate.



3/12



When it rains, it rains.
When it stops raining, it stops.
You are a force of nature
no less than the clouds and oceans.

When it is time to speak,
you will naturally speak.
When it is time to act,
you will naturally act.
     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 23



Oh, those internal conversations:

I’ll say, “…”

and he’ll say, “…”

and I’ll come back with, “…”


And those internal struggles:

I’ll do this,

and he’ll probably do that;

then I’ll come back with…


What a waste of energy!

What unnecessary suffering!



Some technicians are scheduled to arrive tomorrow to install a piece of equipment that may allow us to have an internet connection here at the house. I have some questions and some concerns and I have been replaying the possible outcomes in my mind for several days. The usual outcome of such useless projection is that I am unable to be present for the actual activity and I end up saying what I don’t mean, and not saying what I mean to say. It always works much better when I simply trust a deeper wisdom to be available to me in the moment. If nothing comes to me at the time - well, then I say nothing.



3/13



Stay still, without a need to interfere.

Then life will be a seamless whole,

flowing from moment to moment without effort.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 23



I like the thought of, “a seamless whole.”

I’m forever chopping my life

into separate pieces,

each piece not quite fitting

in the pattern I have in mind.

The pieces have ragged edges.

Some want to be bigger;

others shrink away.

In between the pieces

a restless vacancy arises.

Yes, I really like the image

of “a seamless whole.”



Do you recognize that “choppy” feeling that days sometimes have? The time gets divided into segments of waiting, traveling, waiting some more, hurrying through something, counting the minutes until you can go, etc. The reality, of course, is that there are no “segments.” Even our human idea of “time” is an arbitrary chopping of the Whole into moments that precede and follow each other. The Tao has no divisions, not even the divisions of past, present, and future. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of what it might be like to live in that Whole, Eternal, Flow.




3/14



When we struggle and strain

to get what we think we want,

happiness slips through our fingers.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 24



All the deepest satisfactions of my life

slipped into my experience disguised as accidents,

coincidences, serendipities, and detours.

I was headed for that,

I found this instead.

And this, it turns out,

was what my heart cried out for.



It’s not that I don’t work hard at times. Books don’t write themselves. Firewood doesn’t chop itself.  The ordinary tasks of life require attention, energy, and willingness to work. But when I strain and stretch to grasp something, I am off-balance and am likely heading for a fall. Someone chided me once, “Bill, you must realize that we wouldn’t have the civilization we have now if people didn’t struggle and strain to achieve it.” Yes, and how’s that worked out for us? We can only imagine what we might have achieved if we had lived from a more relaxed and contentment oriented paradigm.


3/15



Clinging to what we have

hastens its disappearance from our lives.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 24



I squeeze my fingers into a fist,

gather my resolve and hold on tight,

and do everything possible to fight

the flow of fate and time.

It is to no avail.

Everything flows on through

as if I didn’t even try.

The only thing the tightened muscles did

was dull my senses to the wonder of it all

while it was here.



Appreciation, gratitude, attention, and care have become my watchwords lately. These practices are serving to keep my muscles loose and my mind in a relaxed state. As the flow of life passes, these qualities help me receive all the nurture, joy, and blessing that this flow bestows. Food nurtures my body more thoroughly. Loving relationships strengthen my heart more fully. Beauty has time to alter my very DNA by its shimmering energy. Everything takes on a numinous quality that enlivens me, even as all things pass on through. It’s not their passing that is the problem. It is that we don’t truly notice or appreciate them while they are here.



3/16


Since before the beginning of beginning-less time,

Something stood formless, tranquil, and solitary.

The Source of all form,
it itself is formless.

Giving it a name is foolish

but, foolish me, I call it Tao.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 25



When I look above me

on a clear mountain night,

I don’t know what to say.

“Beautiful” sounds inane.

“Awesome” rings the same.

Better not to speak a word;

but something wants to be expressed.

A sigh, a humming deep in my throat,

a cry aloud into the sky,

or skipping over the hillside

shouting nonsense syllables

like a child at play.



I’ve been a person of words all my life, but the more I feel and experience of the Mystery above and below me, the less power these words seem to have. I sit at my keyboard and attempt to express the inexpressible on a daily basis. I’ll keep plugging away at it because that is what a poet/philosopher does. But you might benefit more by stepping outside right now and finding something “real” to fill your heart.



3/17



The Tao can be seen in the Cosmos,
from which our Earth was formed.
It can be seen in the Earth
from which we were formed.
And it makes its home within all things,

including each of us.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 25



Everywhere I look and touch,

I see and feel the Tao.

The crumpled piece of paper on my desk

and the cool smooth keyboard, screen,

and hidden circuits of my laptop

are all the same thing.

Forests and streams,

trash and garbage,

tools of creativity

and tools of destruction.

It’s all the Tao,

but it gives me pause…


__


The pause arises when I consider the use we make of what we call, “things.” If I were to truly understand that there is no separation, and that “things,” and “me,” and “you,” are only temporary forms of One Eternal Flow, I wonder if I would change my way of living and being? What would be my relationship with a crumpled piece of paper on the corner of my desk? And how about this Apple MacBook that sits and accepts whatever I type in? The Rare Earth elements in the heart of its motherboard - do I see them? And the hands that somewhere in a factory on the other side of the planet assembled and shipped it here for my convenience, what about them? I’m going to keep on writing, typing, and interacting with these “things,” but I want my relationship with them to change and deepen.



3/18


A deeply rooted path allows a light-hearted life.

A stable path quiets restlessness.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 26



The deeper I sink into the wooded hillside

the more expansive the sky seems to appear.

Accepting this place as my home,

my mind stops its searching.

I come from the Earth.

I will return to the Earth.

The Earth comes from the Tao

and will return to the Tao.

There is no place else

for either the Earth or I

to go.



The grave frowns on the faces of “people in charge” illustrates how deep their delusion has become. There is serious work to be done that only a light heart can undertake. Terror and violence is perpetuated by hearts that do not walk a stable path through this life. If we know who we are and where we belong, we have no need to tamper with the lives of others.




3/19


Even though distractions abound,

our mind does not flit about,

always looking for something else.

There is nothing we need
that we do not already have.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 26



Actually, I need a new carry-on suitcase

for a trip we’re taking to visit our son,

and new granddaughter.

Wait a minute…

do I really?

I’d like one.

It would make the trip easier,

more enjoyable…

Do I need it?

No.

I’ll have to think about this.



Isn’t this sort of dialogue familiar? We become convinced by a conditioned mental process that our life would be easier, better, more satisfying, or just more fun if we only had… fill in the blank. This is often not a great moral/ethical issue. Getting/not getting isn’t the real point. Distractibility is the real point - that mental flitting about that fills the day with activity but accomplishes little of true worth. If I didn’t feel that I needed anything, might my day naturally fill itself with fulfilling and useful work?



3/20



Restlessness drives our mind

and makes us forget who we are.

If we remember who we are,

restlessness fades, calm appears.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 26



You and I live in a restless age.

Perhaps we don’t know who we are,

where we belong,

or what we’re doing,

so we work harder

and faster, hoping

to forget our ignorance.

Yet when our actions arise

from this ignorance,

how can we find peace?



The classic paradox that Lao-Tzu examines over and over in The Tao Te Ching, is the relationship between seeking and finding. Seeking is a mental habit that never, ever, finds. It is an endless circle of neural activity that keeps itself locked in place. We don’t have to seek the answer to our deepest questions. We only have to remember the answers we once knew by heart. There’s nothing to seek; but everything to remember.



3/21


A traveler of this path leaves no footprints, and no legacy;
seeks no praise, and issues no blame.
Thus everything and everyone around him is blessed.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 27



Praise and blame each arise

from the same internal process.

They are not opposites,

they are sides of one coin

whose allure is a common trap

that snares us all.

If I would truly be

an undiminished blessing,

I must be forgotten.

In a sincere walk along this path,

only the blessing is remembered.



Of course my family and loved ones will remember me. But given a choice, I’d rather have their lives be filled with undiminished happiness, than to have them hang on to a memory of me. To the degree that there is desire for legacy, reputation, and praise, there will be a corresponding diminishment to the benefit and blessing a life will bring to others. What work would you do and what actions would you take if there were no such things as praise or blame, and no one would know it was you?



3/22



We do not blaze this path.
We give ourselves to it,
and let it lead us where it will.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 27



I’d like to give myself completely

to the remainder of my life.

Carving out a path through the wilderness

takes courage and strength, I’m sure.

But letting a path take one where it will,

is the supreme heroic attainment.

I hope I have the courage

to follow the path I’m given

all the way to the end.

No one else can do it for me.



Do we ever really blaze our own way through life? We didn’t choose to enter life, nor did we choose the circumstances of our birth. Wouldn’t it be much more rational to pay attention to the moment-by-moment unfolding of our experience than to set some sort of direction based on the whims and desires of society and culture? Life isn’t something I carve out for myself. It is a mystery set before me I get to discover as I go along. It is enough to carry the intention to be of benefit to all beings as I walk.



3/23


To be open to all life has to give

is to experience the Great Secret,

the very heart of the Tao.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 27



I am open to much of life.

I appreciate a great deal

of what it offers.

But, ALL of it?

Death, sorrow, and ignorance?

Hate, greed, and violence?

I don’t know…

Can I pick and choose?

No?

Hmmm.



I don’t hear Lao-Tzu suggesting that I should view the shadow elements of life with a disinterested shrug of my shoulders. I am not advised to pretend that every experience is equally acceptable and welcome. I am simply asked to keep my heart open instead of closed and guarded. A guarded heart may offer a tiny bit of protection from the storms, but only at great cost. An open heart will be wounded and broken by some of life’s events. It will also receive healing at a deeper level than will a closed heart. Joy will penetrate with greater intensity. The path will be rich and full. Tears and laughter will flow freely. The choice between open and guarded is really the choice between living and existing.



3/24


Repression of the primal energy within us

leaves us divided against ourselves.

Success battles with failure.

Words strive against silence.

Actions combat stillness.

Nothing flows.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 28



Words, actions, and success -

who can argue with their primacy?

Yet what have they attained

for all their sound and fury?

A lopsided world; unbalanced,

unjust and unstable, forgetting that;

success must arise from failure

and return once again;

words must arise from silence

and return once again;

actions must arise from stillness,

and return once again.



Success, we think, must be the step to more success. Words must lead to more and better words (believe me, I’m a writer and I feel that tug). Actions must continue indefinitely with more and more energy. This seems to be the way we want the world to operate. But this is a foolish way of being. After success, we must return to failure - a place of starting anew.  After speaking or writing we must return to silence or no more words will come. And after acting we must return to stillness or our actions dissipate into vapor.



3/25



Many leaders thrive upon dividing people,

turning one against the other

to consolidate power and profit.

But the one who holds the Unity complete

will not be fooled by clever words,
and can see the virtue in all things.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 28



“News” has become the game

of “us” and “them,”

that brings me daily updates

on the score.

Should I be afraid,

or perhaps a bit more confident today,

depending on whether “they”

have lost or gained some ground?

Holding Unity is hard

when everywhere I turn I’m told

that Wholeness is an illusion.

I wonder, though,

just where the delusion really lies.



All suffering arises from believing that Unity is a myth instead of the fundamental reality of the Cosmos. But suffering, I’m afraid, is actually good for business. Faced with a people who are centered, contented, and at peace with life and death, the economy would have to transform itself. A transformed economy would eliminate the positions and privileges of power and control. We certainly can’t have that. Can we?




3/26



The conditioned mind is always trying to improve the world.
It seems a virtuous thing,
but it is really an illusion

and a terrible waste of time.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 29



I do so want to be of benefit;

to do good work and give assistance.

Thing is, however,

in the vast and complex Web of Life,

how do I know what the plucking of this string

or that string,

in the name of what seems to me

to be “improvement” really bring?

Is it enough to take action

with energy and enthusiasm,

and let the Tao be what

and who it is?




In a time of political turmoil, the urge to fix things is powerful. The classic assumption is that, if we don’t do something, all will be lost. This assumption is based on several fallacies: that we actually know what what is best to do; that we have the power to impose this on other people; and that we cannot trust the balancing movement of the Tao. Why do we believe that stopping our frantic efforts will lead to inertia and disaster? If something seems to arise as a natural act, do it! If it arises from a need to make sure that others, “do it right,” perhaps some other action would be better. If they are doing it “wrong,” how can we begin to do it “right?”



3/27


The world is nothing
but the eternal flow of Tao.
To tamper with it is foolish.
To attempt to hold it back is futile.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 29



Can the river tamper with the river?

Can it hold itself back

from the eternal pull of gravity?

Can it decide not to return

to its ocean home at last?

All my intentions, hopes, and dreams

can make ripples and eddies,

important enough to me,

but simply part of the Flow Itself.



One of the conundrums of Taoist practice is the idea of “wu-wei” - a concept we will often encounter in our walk. It concerns the illusion that a certain kind of effort and strain will bring enhanced results. We are a striving culture and we believe that striving has brought us great achievement. In fact, it has brought us to the edge of extinction because it is contrary to the basic energy of the Tao. Activities such as work and play should emerge from a keen awareness of the flow of Tao. They then are full of energy - unstoppable energy in fact - but without the foolish strain of trying to impose our own conditioned ideas and opinions. We are not “masters of our fate.” We are co-creators of a flowing, dancing, living River.



3/28


Leaders who follow the Tao never force their will,
and never seek to defeat their opponents.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 30



The world of politics is presented to me,

by media of every sort,

as a field of victory,

or defeat.

The will of some is imposed

upon the lives of others

and leadership is replaced

by tyranny.

There is another field,

one described by Rumi:

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing

and rightdoing there is a field.

I'll meet you there.”


Yes - let’s meet there

lie down in the grass of a world

“too full to talk about.”



The mystical poetry of dear souls like Rumi presents a refreshing antidote to the illusory world of political machination. The use of force, political or otherwise, is never in alignment with the Tao. As we seek to find some sane direction in today’s chaotic culture, let’s remember the use of counter-force is simply one more attempt to impose the will of some upon the lives of others. It’s not different just because it’s ours. If others are not willing to meet in Rumi’s field, no matter. Let’s go there and wait for them. That mystical field is far more “Real” than what is presented as the “real world” by media.



3/29


Battles do not bring victory,

only misery for all involved.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 30



So many personal encounters

are unconsciously seen as battles.

We subtly, or not so subtly,

try to establish a pecking order;

to see who has most to gain,

who has most to lose,

from this encounter.

Energy, prestige, confidence,

affirmation, safety, whatever …

Who walks away with more,

and who leaves the scene with less.



Culturally we are conditioned to view life as a battle. We may not use that word, substituting the seemingly more benign word, “competition,” but it means battle nonetheless. We can see that the “battle” perspective is front and center in society right now. We can also see that the only ultimate result of this distorted view is misery for “winner” and “loser” alike. When you encounter another person - it is not a battle. When you drive your car - it is not a battle. When you watch the news - it is not a battle. All it takes is a shift of perception. When you get up in the morning, do not put on your battle armor. See how different life might be.



3/30


A follower of the Tao does what needs doing

without undue effort.

He isnt worried about reward.

He knows when to stop,
and stops completely.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 30



Stopping completely,

there’s a thought!

Putting the transmission in “Park,”

removing the key from the ignition,

and shutting it off.

Instead, I let it idle,

chugging away burning energy

while going nowhere.

If we stop completely

they might gain on us,

or, god forbid,

get ahead of us.

Can’t stop.

Can’t rest.

Much too important for that!




I’ve developed the habit of shutting off the engine of my car completely when waiting at the railroad crossing near my home. Freight trains are frequent on the North-South route and my childhood memories of counting the freight come back to me. Even if it is just a few minutes, I shut it down. When the caboose approaches (although I don’t see the old cabooses much anymore) there is plenty of time to start up again. Although on occasion the pickup in back will show every intention of crawling over the top of me. Society says, “Move! Now!” and we are afraid of being run over. But stopping completely is as essential as taking action. Wisdom is the ability to discern which is appropriate in the moment. Let’s be wise out there.



3/31


We can do things with great struggle
and they will sometimes seem impressive,

but they will not last.
The struggle holds them together,
when the struggle stops
they disintegrate.
Only natural work endures.

     From Tao Te Ching, Chapter 30



Expending energy is one thing;

struggle is quite another.

There is abundant energy in the Tao

to accomplish every needed thing.

Working naturally might make me tired,

but struggle exhausts me.

Working naturally allows the Yin and Yang

of rest and effort to alternate,

but struggle knows only Yang.

Working naturally builds things that last,

but struggle builds only more struggle.



Even the classic historical “struggles” - for freedom, for civil rights, for equality - are at their best when they are merely the natural work we do. We don’t struggle for civil rights. We simply dedicate our work to these rights and proceed to do it naturally, peacefully, and without the inner resistance caused by defining it as a, “struggle.” It may seem like mere semantics, but it is a profoundly important distinction. Natural work lets the energy of the Tao flow freely and allows for rest and peace. Struggle often counters the energy of the Tao and allows no peace, no rest, no enduring results. We’ve been struggling for centuries. Perhaps it’s time to get to work instead.



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