Tao Te Ching
THE TAOISM OF LAO TZU
Tao Te Ching
Letting go is a recurring theme in the Tao Te Ching. It's brought up in several chapters, for example the 19th, where I mention the similarity to Zen in this respect. In Zen, you let go to reach empty mind, a mental state of clarity, where nothing disturbs you or pulls you way from the soundness of the simple thought. There are many similarities between Zen and what Lao Tzu argues for.
Knowledge is a risky thing. It clogs the mind and makes it prejudiced. Those who seek it carry a load that gets heavier every day, and the chance of processing it to come to any conclusions diminishes. It's hard to be wise when you have too much to think about.
Following Tao, the Way, you learn to trust that it will reveal the true workings of the world and everything in it. By leaning back and opening yourself to it, you watch Tao unfold in front of you, revealing itself from behind everything that happens. The chains of events have patterns, and these patterns show the fabric of Tao.
Letting go is also to become detached. It's not the same as indifference. You care and you have wishes, but you don't hurry to act before you are certain about the consequences of your actions. Otherwise you are very likely to do more harm than good.
Only do something when you really have to, and then only do that something. It will suffice.
Lao Tzu has so much fate in the perfection of Tao that he expects the occasions to be few, when action is needed. Mostly, things correct themselves, because they are governed by Tao. In Lao Tzu's mind, only people can at all deviate from the Way. Neither plants nor animals or any other things in our universe can.
We are odd creatures, indeed. Not only can we deviate from nature, but we have a tendency to believe that we can improve it. That's absurd, especially since we are far from understanding it completely. Still, we want to take over the whole world and change it to our liking.
It's not only an ambition among the self-appointed dictators of which we've had far too many. It's almost a reflex of ours, existing in all of us. It starts as soon as we settle somewhere. In our children, it starts as soon as they can move their arms and hands at will. We want to make our marks, and we want to control the world down to every little detail.
That's exactly why we are not fit to rule the world, but that's also why we keep trying.
Even when we set out to correct our own mistakes and the misfortunes they created, we start again by seizing control of our surroundings and forcing changes on them. If we have damaged the world when taking power over it, we should not try to fix it with that same power, but lean back and let the world repair itself.
It will if we let it. Tao is the Way by which that comes about.
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