The Tao does nothing, but leaves nothing undone.
If powerful men could center themselves in it
the whole world would be transformed by itself,
in its natural rhythms.
When life is simple,
pretenses fall away;
our essential natures shine through.
By not wanting, there is calm,
and the world will straighten itself.
When there is silence,
one finds the anchor of the universe within oneself.
This theme has been seen in several previous verses (such as the 3rd verse, 8th verse, and 20th verse). Basically what this verse is saying is that we can do nothing and yet everything will get done. It sounds like an infomercial selling some unbelievable product that can accomplish everything with no effort.
However, I think that when it says “do nothing”, it does not mean to lay around doing nothing for yourself or not striving for success or achievement. That is what our culture would define as doing nothing.
“Doing nothing” means something different here. It means to live with understanding of the Tao (the Way, God, or the Universe). It means to live in alignment with its wisdom and not fight against its principles. The principles are the teachings described here in the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching.
“Doing” in this sense means to attempt to control, manipulate and change people and circumsances in your life. As we have seen in previous posts, this only leads to more suffering.
Imagine life with no struggling against the natural flow of life, working with the rythym of the waves in the ocean of your life, and allowing others to live in their own flow. This is when the world unfolds as it should.
Take notice of the world around you. See how the sky, ocean, trees and flowers do not seek to control or manipulate. They do not “do” anything and yet nothing is left undone.