Without going out the door,
know the world.
Without looking out the window,
you may see the ways of heaven.
The farther one goes, the less one knows.
Therefore the sage does not venture forth and yet knows,
does not look and yet names,
does not strive and yet attains completion.
The theme of this verse touches on the same concept that we have seen in several previous verses, “doing” versus “being”. Instead of describing that again, this example came to my mind.
Let’s pretend that I am a gifted pianist. Playing the piano comes naturally to me and I feel at my best when I am releasing my music through the ivory keys that line the piano. You could say that my purpose for being here is to create and play beautiful music for all to enjoy.
However, my father thinks I should be a lawyer and playing the piano is waste of time and something to be done on my free time as a hobby instead of as a serious pursuit. After all, he is a lawyer, his father was a lawyer and his grandfather was a lawyer. According to my father, it’s in my blood to be a lawyer.
Instead of allowing my life to be guided by my calling given to me by the same source that ensures that my heart continues to beat, that allows the sun to shine on my face and that drives the creation of all that I see and experience, I decide that I know better. I decide to go to law school. I decide to push my piano playing to the side as an occasional hobby instead of nurturing my true gift.
I become a lawyer, am a partner in a large law firm, drive a fancy car and make millions. The Universe was wrong. I was meant to be a lawyer. This is my calling. Or is it?
Despite my supposed success in the eyes of society and, of course, my father, I am miserable. I am burned out on my job, I feel that there is something more important that I am supposed to be doing with my life and I constantly feel like something is missing.
I notice how things show up in my life when I pay attention to them. There is the ad posted on the cabs that pass by my office window with a pianist playing away on a shiny black piano. There is the piano music that I am constantly listening to and losing myself without even realizing I am hearing it. There is the coworker that just told me how his daughter is learning to play the piano and how she seems to be a natural at it but he is struggling with continuing piano lessons because of the cost.
My life is in a state of “doing”. I am “doing” what I think is right based on what society and my family has told me I should be doing. Instead of “being” what I know that I was really meant to be, I am forcing myself onto a path that is not natural for me.
The Universe is saying, “here you go, here is the path of your life’s work” and I have been ignoring it. That path was laid out for me, ready for me to walk down whenever I am ready. I see it occasionally through the glimpses and so-called coincidences that I see as I pass by on my chosen path. I am laying my own chosen path stone by stone…and it is exhausting.
It is exhausting because I am forcing my way through life constantly on an uphill climb. This is “doing”. The further that I commit myself to this chosen path, the less glimpses I see of the natural path that I should be on.
Feeling lost, tired and confused, I stop and look around. I stop pushing and forcing and notice what glimpses are presented to me. I see hints that lead me from the overgrown path that I was forging to the recognition of the natural path that I was ignoring.
As I get closer to this natural path, I start to play music again whenever I can. I feel compelled to write music and when I do, I feel a release as if I was holding back the music that was clamoring inside to come out. I feel the flow of doing what I was meant to do.
Little by little, as long as I continue to pay attention, more glimpses are presented to me and I become more in tune with my natural path. I feel the energy and stamina grow inside me. Life does not seem like such a struggle anymore. This is “being”.
The further I went away from my natural path, the less I knew about who I really was. By coming back to my natural path, the real me has been revealed.