If you want to become whole,
first let yourself be broken.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
If you want to be reborn,
let yourself die.
If you want to be given everything,
give everything up.
The Master, by residing in the Tao,
sets an example for all living beings.
Because she isn’t self-centred,
people can see the light in her.
Because she does not boast of herself,
she becomes a shining example.
Because she has nothing to prove,
people can trust her words.
Because she does not who who she is,
people recognise themselves in her.
Because she has no goal in mind,
everything she does succeeds.
When the ancient Masters said,
“If you want to be given everything,
give everything up,”
they weren’t using empty words.
Only in being lived by the Tao
can you truly be yourself.
This verse twice states that if you want to be “given everything” you must first be willing to give up everything. This includes all definitions of who you think you are, what you think your life is about and whatever aims, goals and desires you’re clinging to.
We can never attain happiness and fulfilment without first clearing the decks. How can everything be given to us unless we first make room for it? How can we be full until we’ve first created some space and embraced the emptiness?
The vast majority of us are too fixated with objects and are stuck in the mode of grasping. Life doesn’t – and can’t – give us what we want, it can only give us what we are. So if all we ever do is take from life, then all life is going to do is take from us.
But if we can shift this modus operandi and instead live to give, then we might be amazed at just how much life becomes willing to give us.
The essence of this verse is perhaps contained in the sentence: “only in being lived by the Tao can you truly be yourself”. This implies that whatever notion you already have about yourself may not be the full picture.
Be willing to relinquish it and let it go. Be willing to die while you’re still alive – and see just how amazingly you are reborn, when you live your life aligned with the Tao...