The gentlest of all things
overcomes the hardest of all things.
That which has no substance
can enter where there is no space.
Hence I know the value of non-action.
Teaching without words,
performing without actions -
few in the world can grasp it -
that is the Master’s way.
The wisdom of the Tao Te Ching contradicts just about everything we’re taught and conditioned to believe in. Therefore this realisation of truth does not perhaps come easily or readily to us. We’re brought up to believe that strength and brute force is the hallmark of true power and that decisive action, and even at times violence, are necessary to overcome obstacles.
Lao Tzu asks us to consider the opposite. The wisdom of the Tao is based upon observation of the natural world. Nature doesn’t try to do anything and it doesn’t have to force or conquer or take action to sustain itself. Everything happens through non-action. It happens because it is its nature to happen. Nature operates through effortless effort.
The question is, can we do the same? Can we let go of the propensity to manipulate and mould the outer world and the conditions of our life to conform to what our minds tell us they ‘should’ be?
Can we come to realise and embody the virtue of non-action?
After all, in spite of the best efforts of mind and ego, we are not so much doings as we are happenings. In this realisation, we can perhaps surrender to the flow of life as it happens around, through and within us.