Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 65

Like other chapters which address principles of governance, this chapter applies just as well, and perhaps with more relevance, to how we govern ourselves.

In ancient times rulers who followed Tao
Did not teach people to be clever
But rather encouraged people to follow their true nature
Governing by manipulation brought ruin
But governing in alignment with Tao brought good fortune

I have taken great liberty with the translation here because the use of certain characters in this particular chapter seems atypical in the context of the Tao Te Ching. I hope I have captured the essential meaning. I think the point, expressing a theme throughout the text, is that nature has its own wisdom that we cannot improve on. And when we try, our interference causes chaos and suffering.

To know the difference between these two (the natural way vs interference)
Is called mysterious Virtue (Te)
Mysterious Virtue reaches deep and far
Linking all things to the Source
In perfect harmony

As I’ve noted before, the “Te” of the Tao Te Ching is often translated as “Virtue.” However, this does not mean virtue in any moralistic sense, but rather means the expression of Tao in the manifested universe. I think it is comparable to the fruits of the spirit in Christianity, which are not moral rules but rather the natural expression of being filled with the holy spirit.

Maybe I’m just getting too tired as I get older to expend a lot of energy trying to force things to be a certain way. I find more and more that when I allow things to run their natural course, everything turns out all right. In hindsight I see the wisdom of how things unfold, even if at an earlier stage it seemed that everything was going the wrong way. “Wrong,” of course, according to me and my limited vision and anxiety at the time. I’m learning to suspend judgment and take the approach voiced by a friend. “Let’s just see what happens.”

When I’m able to do that, all the moving pieces do indeed seem to settle into harmonious resonance. And it is perfect.

Trust the process. ~Kyle Cline

16 thoughts on “Tao Te Ching – Chapter 65”

  1. Yes, Galen, I agree that as we get older, we're either wiser or too tired to force things. Amazingly, everything DOES seem to turn out okay if we just relax and let life flow. I sure wish I'd known this 40 years ago!!

  2. I like how you've described the Te, virtue, as likened to the fruits of the Spirit. That makes perfect sense! And yes, Galen, it's all about letting go, and going with the flow, even though that's not always easy for us to do.

  3. Isn't "letting go" a temptation to be a pacifist…if misunderstood? Trying to explain the Wu Wei position to my tai chi class, don't force–do nothing–, creates confusion, I sense. Encouraging others to follow their true nature only seems reasonable, to me, if their true nature (my true nature) is aligned with the Tao. if it is not then I fear that chaos and dis-harmony…OR disinterested non-involvement could be the order of the day. I am trying to assume the ideals of Chapter 59 as my template for "wu wei" living but wonder if, by choosing to DEFINE letting go, I am actually defeating the purpose??!!

  4. I agree, CD. The concept of wu wei is perhaps the most challenging in the Tao Te Ching. People in the "in person" No Way Cafe group often ask if this means just sitting around doing nothing. Sort of like a pacifist doormat.

    But to me, this concept is full of dynamic power. Like Marianne Williamson said in connection to A Course in Miracles — Our deepest fear is not that we are powerless. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. Wu wei, to me, means that in giving up our own individual, fear based power (for lack of a better word), we become a conduit or a manifestation of the unlimited power of the universe.

    This is not a power "over" anything or anyone. This is the power inherent in life itself, enlivening us, moving in us and through us. And then, as the Tao Te Ching says, "nothing is left undone." Or in Buddhist terms, right action "happens."

    This looks like whatever it looks like — sometimes still, sometimes active.

    Tai chi is the perfect embodiment of wu wei. When pushing hands, we are fully present and engaged with energy. Sometimes there is visible outward movement, and sometimes there is the outward appearance of stillness. But at all times it is dynamic and powerful.

    Yeah, defining letting go…. good luck with that! Ha! Putting anything into words that is beyond words is doomed to failure. As Adyashanti says, our goal is to "fail well."

    PS–Chapter 59 is a great template for wu wei living.

  5. Awe-fully interesting perspective, thanks Galen! Regarding your "dynamics", I do understand and agree. At this place in my practice, wu wei has become a DON'T FORCE the unfolding experience. Identify what's happening, accept that it is happening, and attempt to find and/or manage an action that is a balance of what I perceive as "tensions" in that event. In other words, recognize the flow of the happening and avoid changing that flow to fit my expectations, ego-power or my sole profit-taking. Remember that days of "efforting" for a desired outcome? I currently perceive wu wei and the opposite of that. Make sense?

  6. Yes, trust the process; I like that thought. I have found through struggles and trials that in retrospect they were blessings that came and growth that occurred. There is a plan and it is a perfect one if we just find it out and follow it. Blessings and hugs for this one!

  7. 'the natural way vs interference'

    There is so much truth in the natural way of things, we disrupt its way by our interference most of the time. This is why, after a few years in the school of hard knocks we tend to realize the futility of our efforts and we finally step back and let things go as they will.

    ' mysterious Virtue (Te)'

    I like that phrase and your comparison in its meaning, to the fruit of the holy spirit. The nature of the spirit is to be virtuous. Its been around a long time so nature has perfected its ways. The holy spirit has no religion, ideology or form yet it penetrates all life everywhere. Its all very amazing when you think about it.

  8. This is so true and applies both externally in the world and the extreme manipulation and interfering going on in politics and the planet, as well as within us as individuals. I am trying to really embrace this letting be and allowing a natural enfolding in my own life because other approaches just seem to lead to inner and outer conflict which I just don't want to have to navigate anymore. Of course, always a work in progress, but I feel so much more unified/aligned within myself than I've ever felt before and reading your posts is always a double-check for me, Galen!

  9. I understand what you mean, Lynne. Our wisdom is within, but I am reassured when I am in sync with the "outside" teachings that I am inspired by. And like you, I find that all the ways I used to try to direct or control things just don't work as well as paying attention and being in harmony with the natural unfolding of things. Then I play my part, so to speak, with much less effort and frustration.

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