Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Verse 23


Express yourself completely, then keep quiet.
Nature uses few words.
Fierce winds do not blow all morning,
a downpour of rain does not last the day.
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 so?

If you open yourself to the Tao,
you are at one with the Tao
and you can embody it completely.
If you open yourself to insight,
you are at one with insight
and can use it completely.
If you open yourself to loss
you are at one with loss
and you can accept it completely.

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

The message of this verse appears to be quite simple: stop trying to force things and just open yourself to the Tao. Let go and allow life to do what it does. Don’t resist it, because it’s going to do what it does regardless.

Sometimes we think that in order to to get where we want to be, we have to struggle, strive and force things. But this will inevitably leave us exhausted and frustrated, for even nature in all its power cannot create a storm that lasts indefinitely.

Forced action cannot be sustained, so it’s better to open ourselves to the Tao, in the manner that preceding verses have suggested. By doing so, we can follow and act upon whatever insights and promptings arise from the stillness within. Actions arising from insight are far more likely to be of benefit than those that are directed by the conditioned egoic mind, which can only ever see a limited part of the picture.

Another important point comes from the very first line, which urges us to express ourselves completely and then keep quiet. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of labouring points and debating our position, when in fact our energies are best served by retreating within once the point has been made.

As a wise friend once said to me: “silence is golden; if you can’t improve upon it, don’t even try.”

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