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This might seem lofty and bizarre, but most of Lao Tzu’s suggestions are actually very simple. “To the mind that is still,” Lao Tzu said, “the whole universe surrenders.” We need to let go of our schedules, worries and complex thoughts for a while and simply experience the world.We spend so much time rushing from one place to the next in life, but Lao Tzu reminds us “nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” It is particularly important that we remember that certain things—grieving, growing wiser, developing a new relationship—only happen on their own schedule, like the changing of leaves in the fall or the blossoming of the bulbs we planted months ago.This “way” isn’t inherently confusing or difficult.Lao Tzu wrote, “the great Dao is very even, but people like to take by-ways.” In Lao Tzu’s view the problem with virtue isn’t that it is difficult or unnatural, but simply is that we resist the very simple path that might make us most content.When we are still and patient we also need to be open.We need to be reminded to empty ourselves of frivolous thoughts so that we will observe what is really important.Confucianist practices to this day not only respect Lao Tzu as a great philosopher but also try to follow many of his teachings.There is a story about the three great Asian spiritual leaders (Lao Tzu, Confucius, and Buddha). Confucius found it sour, much like he found the world full of degenerate people, and Buddha found it bitter, much like he found the world to be full of suffering. This is telling, because Lao Tzu’s philosophy tends to look at the apparent discord in the world and see an underlying harmony guided by something called the ‘Dao’.
These experiences reconnect us to parts of ourselves.The Tao Te Ching is somewhat like the Bible: it gives instructions (at times vague and generally open to multiple interpretations) on how to live a good life.It discusses the “Dao,” or the “way” of the world, which is also the path to virtue, happiness, and harmony.We might rediscover a generous impulse, or a playful side we had forgotten, or simply an old affection for long walks.
Our ego is often in the way of our true self, which must be found by being receptive to the outside world rather than focusing on some critical, too-ambitious internal image.Confucius is often believed to be a student of Lao Tzu.