When the ruler knows his heart,
the people are simple and contented.
When he meddles with their lives,
they become restless and contentious.
Calamity is what happiness leans on.
Happiness is what calamity hides in.
Who knows the end of this process?
Yet what is good soon becomes bad.
And the bad again becomes good.
People have been confused (by this) for a long time.
The sage becomes an exemplar and does not impose his will.
He is pointed but does not cut.
He straightens but does not disrupt.
He illuminates but does not dazzle.
As I Understand It:
If our heart is pure the apparent reality is plain and simple. If we play games with others the reality becomes restless and flammable. This is because apparent reality–the 10,000 things–is in constant motion, neither permanent nor predictable. Only the Tao is unchanging.
Unpredictability is the norm of nature. Instead of focusing on good or bad luck focus on the unchanging Tao. In each “good” experience the opposite and is always present. What we call “bad” luck has “good” in it, just waiting to surface. Its opposite is also true.
When going through an unfortunate event examine your life from bird’s point of view. You will notice that opportunity was hidden at every tough stage. When bad fortune strikes and life becomes unbearable, dig for good fortune that is ready to emerge. When lady luck blesses and overwhelms you with pleasure, see the experience as part of wholeness.
Scarcity has to turn into abundance. Good fortune is present in all moments of despair. Don’t pierce when you are down. Don’t dazzle when you are up. Learn to live untouched by both.
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.