Tao Tuesdays – Chapter 37

I’m usually so behind with these posts, I should start calling them Tao Not-Tuesdays. But here’s the deal. On actually Tuesdays, Amy Putkonen posts a chapter from her version of the Tao Te Ching and invites other bloggers to comment. I like to read the chapter, write my impression, then read her commentary. I invite you to do the same. If you do, please link to her post at www.taotechingdaily.com

Tao is non-action,
yet nothing remains undone.

When leaders follow the Tao,
the Ten Thousand Things are transformed.

When old habits arise,
I will press them into silence with the uncarved block
called Tao.

The simplicity of the uncarved block
will free old habits.

Without old habits,
everything under Heaven will be settled.

Not to sound juvenile, I see this chapter through the lens of “says who?!”

National TV medium John Edward always says to “leave your expectations at the door”. I think that is what this chapter is about too.

Pre-conceived notions, social expectations, even our individual hopes and expectations can often put the brakes on experience, slow down accomplishment.

Another aspect of this is the old adage “It is what it is”

“The Tao is nonaction yet nothing remains undone”…where there is life, there is action, change and movement – it’s going to happen whether we like it or not. Whether or not a particular thing gets “done” or not is entirely a function of our expectations and desires. “Says Who?” something is done or undone? That comes from us, our definitions. Expecting things to be a certain way causes us to miss what naturally happens. Our expectations and striving can make us miss what is.

Often, especially in politics, we say that it doesn’t matter how things are, as much as they are percieved to be. In this, the Tao Te Ching shows the deep and utter pragmatism of Taoism…”When leaders follow the Tao, the Ten Thousand Things (their way of saying the “big picture”) is transformed. When leaders accept things are as they are, and persuade others toward realistic expectations, suddenly nothing is left undone. If it seen as OK…mission accomplished. If things are, realistically, unacceptable, then real pragmatic action can be taken to rectify the situation…mission still accomplished (just in a different way at a different time).

“With the simplicity of the uncarved block we will free old habits”…Sez who it’s a bad habit? Full disclosure: this part is colored by my upbringing by evangelical christians in the American south…just because someone tells you it’s a “bad habit” doesn’t mean it is. I tend to measure things…habits included…by the yardstick of compassion. Is this “bad habit” wrong or harmful to anyone, really? If it hurts your soul or health, then yes, it does, and it should be improved. After all, the Tao Te Ching itself is sometimes translated as “Virtue and the Way” or “The Way of Virtue” or some such thing. But if it harms no one…not to go all Wiccan on you…if it does no harm, then who says it’s a bad habit anyway?? One example that comes to mind is the “Dudeist” icon, the title character from the movie “The Big Lebowski”. Wearing your houscoat around all day might be a bad habit to some, but it isn’t hurting anything in his situation, so – so what? He follows his nature to wear housecoat. The unarved block frees that  old habit. It is freed from being an “old habit” into being “so what?”

Without the judgement of non-harmful old habits – they are freed. “Old habits” touched by the uncarved block are not habits of concern any longer. Without judgement ‘carving the block’ things are calm and setteled and OK.

Judgement and expectations change what is by changing our perception. Judgement and expectation ‘carve the block’ so to speak. If we abide in the Tao, we let go of our judgements and expectations…we leave the block uncarved…and then old habits are free to either exist, or to change as needs be.

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