26th Verse – Stillness in the Midst of Unrest

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The heavy is the root of the light.
The still is the master of the unrest.

Realizing this,
the successful person is
poised and centered
in the midst of all the activities;
although surrounded by opulence,
he is not swayed.

Why should the lord of the country
flit about like a fool?
If you let yourself be blown to and fro,
you lose touch with your root.
To be restless is to lose one’s self-mastery.

Unrest stems from reactivity to anger, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and want. Most of us live in a state of constant reactivity. Bouncing between one reaction provoking situation to the next. It is almost as if we have forgotten how to feel without some external force pushing back against us.

I have mentioned before that my son has Sensory Processing Disorder. One of the symptoms of sensory kids is that they often lack the ability to know where they are in space compared to other things around them. Sensory kids will often bump into walls, furniture or other people as a way to center themselves and signal where they are in relation to others.

My son’s disorder is at least identifiable. Most of us, without even knowing it, live with a different kind of sensory disorder where we are addicted to the external stimuli of reacting to others and having others react to us in order to know our place in life. We use caffeine to wake up and drugs to put us to sleep and spend our days looking for someone or something to “bump up against”. I.e. That other driver to vent our frustration at; that family member or coworker to start drama with in order to feel that we matter; that thing that we decide we want and proceed to beat ourselves up because we don’t have it yet.

Self-mastery comes when we learn to come from the stillness inside of us that is peace, love, and contentment. We must learn to respond using this internal stillness instead of reacting to the external stimuli.

Through self-mastery we know our place in the world because we understand our purpose and no longer need external stimuli to provide us with our value in life. The external world can blow to and fro and we stay connected to our root and remain still amongst the unrest.


25th Verse – The greatness within you

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There was something formless and perfect
before the universe was born.
It is serene. Empty.
Solitary. Unchanging.
Infinite. Eternally present.
It is the Mother of the universe.
For lack of a better name,
I call it the Tao.

I call it great.
Great is boundless;
boundless is eternally flowing;
ever flowing, it is constantly returning.

Therefore, the Way is great,
heaven is great,
earth is great,
people are great.

Thus, to know humanity,
understand earth.
To know earth,
understand heaven.
To know heaven,
understand the Way.
To know the Way,
understand the great within yourself.

Think of all the wondrous things around you. The glory of the morning sunrise. The instinct that drives animals to know their purpose without anyone to direct them. The ability for a human life to form even though the number of factors that need to be in place to form that life is staggering. The myriad of incredible and unexplainable things that surround you.

In order to understand anything, all you need to do is look within yourself. The greatness that is in everything is also in you.

That is exactly what this verse is referring to. It is saying that before you can understand anything (I.e. the earth, heaven, the Way), you must first understand the greatness within yourself. For that greatness is the “Mother of the universe”.

24th Verse – Uproot that which is not needed

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If you stand on tiptoe, you cannot stand firmly.
If you take long steps, you cannot walk far.

Showing off does not reveal enlightenment.
Boasting will not produce accomplishment.
He who is self-righteous is not respected.
He who brags will not endure.

All these ways of acting are odious, distasteful.
They are superfluous excesses.
They are like a pain in the stomach,
a tumor in the body.

When walking the path of the Tao,
this is the very stuff that must be
uprooted, thrown out, and left behind.

Stand on you tiptoes and feel how unstable you are. The slightest nudge can knock you off balance.

Take long, exaggerated steps and see how quickly you tire out. You cannot sustain that sort of stride for very long.

This is a metaphor for how you show up in your own life. Showing off, boasting, acting self-righteous and bragging do not create a sturdy foundation on which to build your life. Eventually you will tire of continuing in this manner or others will tire of you acting in such a way. Disrespect is cultivated and opportunities for accomplishment and enlightenment are missed.

Acting in such a way is like a cancer. It eats away at your relationships, at your state of mind and potentially at your physical body.

By following the Tao you can uproot such behavior from your character and present your true, authentic self. This is the path of the Tao. It is the solid foundation to build life upon and it is able to span lifetimes.

Just be you! You are what the world needs. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be here.

23rd Verse – Everything is Temporary

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To talk little is natural:
Fierce winds do not blow all morning;
a downpour of rain does not last the day.
Who does this? Heaven and earth.

But these are exaggerated, forced effects,
and that is why they cannot be sustained.
If heaven and earth cannot sustain a forced action,
how much less is man able to do?

Those who follow the Way
become one with the Way.
Those who follow goodness
become one with goodness.
Those who stray from the Way and goodness
become one with failure.

If you conform to the Way,
its power flows through you.
Your actions become those of nature,
your ways those of heaven.

Open yourself to the Tao
and trust your natural responses…
then everything will fall into place.

Everything in this existence is temporary. Like a flower, everything blossoms and then withers away. This is not good or bad, it just is. It is the Way.

No matter if we are referring to our bodies, our possessions or the situations of our lives, nothing is exempt except for the Way itself.

Apply this idea to the so called bad situations in your life. When you feel all hope is lost and you are stuck, know that this too shall pass. Even in the darkest moment, the sun is just over the horizon.

“Open yourself to the Tao.” Set your intentions and have faith that they will come.

“Trust in your natural responses…”. Don’t be tied to the how. The path to your intention may be presented to you differently than you expect. Don’t force it. Even nature cannot sustain a forced action.

Do this and “…everything will fall into place”.