we try to learn something new every day.
But if we want to get right with Tao,
we have to let go of something every day.
We do less and less,
until we end up doing nothing.
And it's when we do nothing
that we get the job done.
Let events take their course,
and everything will turn out
in your favor.
If you act on your ambitions,
they will never pan out.
~ Ron Hogan rendition ~
As I continue struggling mightily with a major flare-up of my Fibromyalgia, my focusing and concentration skills are almost nonexistent. To this end, I'm simply going to share other people's thoughts on this verse.
Carl Abbott from Center Tao:
Carl Abbott from Center Tao:
One does less and less until one does nothing at all is an awfully hard precept to face, especially in a culture where action and the attendant success is so glorified.Dr. Jill Henry of The Mountain Valley Center:
The reason I do anything arises out of a sense that some thing is undone, and I need to correct the situation. The biological origin of this is rooted in the survival instinct, it keeps me doing what I need to do to get food, for example. However, whether I get that new car (or whatever) has nothing to do with survival in any real sense. It’s just that I feel I’m not right with the world until I have it.
When I’m content, the universe looks just perfect and there is nothing in it that is undone. In the pursuit of the way I am tentative and bewildered which enjoins me to see reality on its own terms. From that perspective it’s easy to see the perfection of each moment. And so, quite naturally, I do less every day to change things. Instead my life energy goes toward maintenance. Nothing is left undone in another sense… there are no loose ends.
This verse is probably one of the hardest for the Western mind to grasp. We are taught to never be lazy. To always be in control. To work harder and harder. That if we don’t make things happen, they won’t happen at all. Yet the Tao says to do less and less and to not interfere with the world. How can we reconcile these two opposites? Do we believe one and let the other go? We learned to hate. It’s time now to drop the hatred. We learned to distrust. It’s now time to drop the fear.Nina Correa of The Dao is Open:
In truth, less is really more and timing is everything! As we let our lives “take their course”, our lives become on course. As we stop interfering with life, life brings us what we need, exactly when we need it. A state of non-action doesn’t mean not doing anything, it means doing within the natural flow of our life, without struggle.
As you develop a better connection with your own spirit, it becomes less necessary to take actions that feel uncomfortable or to put effort into coming to conclusive answers for all your questions. As your actions become more and more effortless, it might seem that you're not doing anything at all. But then, as your mind becomes rid of thinking about all the things you "should" be doing, suddenly all the things that really need to get done are accomplished. The superficial and unnecessary actions and thoughts are eliminated, and you start following the spirit within you that will always guide you.John Lash, author of The Spirit of Tai-Chi: Essential Principles:
Our society praises and rewards the type of learning that results in the acquiring of new facts. The more facts you command, the more useful you are to society. Thus, to remain competitive and successful, you must continually acquire new information. The process continues until you can no longer keep up and then society shoves you aside as useless to let you live out your life with the fading memories of your successes.This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.
The Tai Chi person is engaged in a different type of learning in which things are lost rather than acquired. During his journey, he will lose his ego, his preconceived ideas about the world, his prejudices, his selfishness, his ambition, and his aggression. Such a journey is neither respected nor rewarded by society, but bring the fulfillment of his nature.