Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Daodejing, Verse 78

Daodejing - Other Voices
Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water, yet when it attacks what's strong and firm, nothing can hold up against it.
That's because there's nothing that can change as easily as water.
Water conquers what's firm and unyielding.
By being flexible, it can conquer what's strong.
There's no one in this world who wouldn't be able to get the gist of that, yet no one has the ability to act in that way.

Water is soft and flexible, yet it's through its soft persistence that it can hold up against what's strong and rigid. Because it’s flexible, it doesn't get torn apart by what's strong and rigid. Anyone in the world can easily see how water can eventually wear down the hardest rock simply by following its course over time. If you throw a rock into a pool of water, the water may splash about a bit at first, but then settles back down. Anyone could get the idea behind that, but nobody seems to be able act like that.

Therefore, the words of a wise person declare:
Someone who willingly accepts ridicule from the state is designated the lord of the altars of earth and grain.
Someone who willingly accepts the inauspiciousness of the state is designated the king of the world.

A person who gets the idea of how being soft and patient could overcome what’s hard and rigid would observe:
  • People who accept responsibility for the woes of the world are given charge of the subordinate position of deciding what each person will receive, as they’d take personal responsibility if anything went wrong.
  • People who blame the woes of the world on forces outside of their control are the ones given complete control over everything in the world.
Let’s look at the those in charge as though we were looking at parts of ourselves..
  • We each take the stance sometimes that we’re to blame for bad things that happen. We feel horrible, and think if we just did things better, nothing bad would ever happen. We lose patience with ourselves, thinking we should deal with stuff much better than we do, and demand more from ourselves.
  • We each have another part of ourselves that wants to blame others - or some streak of bad luck - for the bad stuff that happens. If we feel bad, we curse other people for what they’ve done, or wonder why something is preventing us from being able to make things better. We lose patience with everyone and everything around us, asking some outside forces to make things better.
Straight-forward words seem to get turned around.

This chapter started out saying that what’s soft and flexible will eventually overcome what’s hard and rigid. How do people turn those words around? When they try to put the blame on anything - or anyone - for what’s happening around them. That’s when they lose patience. That’s when they think they should be doing more to make things happen the way they want - or demand that others do it for them.

Water doesn’t demand the rock gets out of its way, but it eventually wears it down or finds another route. If you find the essence of who you really are and comfortably follow that course, you’ll end up where you should be. Just be patient. With yourself and with others.
~ from Dao is Open, author Nina Correa, original post date: not listed ~
This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.

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