Tao produces the ten thousand things.
Te (Virtue) fosters them.
Circumstances and tendencies complete them.
Therefore the ten thousand things esteem Tao and honor te.
Tao and te are free, spontaneous, perfect.
Therefore all honor the way of Tao and value its te.
Because the Tao gives them life,
Te nourishes and nurtures them,
Rears, protects and shelters them.
The Tao produces them but does not take possession of them.
It gives but does not expect.
It leads but does not master.
This is Tao’s profound and hidden virtue.
As I Understand It:
The Tao, our source of being, is not merely physical. We are born with a mystery, with spontaneity that sages call te.
If I were merely material at birth with a predetermined role of who I am and how I should function in a family, in community, in the world at large, my life would be filled with stressful attempts to please. I will be trapped in a familial and social system not of my choice.
But if I see myself as an individual who has no preconditions, who can choose her way, creative and imaginative way, a way in which my character is nourished and nurtured, in which there are no demands, no pressures, no battles to live up to someone else’s expectations but only to live up to my te, my hidden virtue, my inner spirituality, then my worldview will change for good.
Awareness of the inner spirituality or virtue cultivates, completes and comforts. Hidden virtue is not only deep within but is also in all of the creation. Our security does not come from the things we possess outside ourselves but from being in constant contact with the virtue.
Trust in that invisible force that animates you and everyone else you encounter. Experiencing te is experiencing freedom.
Dyer, W. Wayne. Change Your Thought–Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. Hay House, Inc. 2007.
The Way of Lao Tzu (Tao-te Ching), Translated, with introductory essays, comments, and notes by Chan, Wing-Tsit. The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. 1963.