August 2, 2019

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 5

Life has no preferences.
Every manifestation has its place
and lives its life under the sun.
Therefore we welcome
everything and everyone
without distinction.

Life continuously breathes
its forms into existence,
never depleting itself,
always replenishing itself.

Clinging to our preferences,
we separate ourselves from life and suffer exhaustion.
Sitting still and following our breath,
we find renewal.
Of course I have preferences. I naturally prefer some foods over others; some environments over others; even some people over others. The problem arises when I take these preferences seriously, as if they were an actual true understanding of, “the way the world should be!”

Well, Bill, the world is what it is. Life is what life is. The Mystery of Life has arisen as dolphins and mosquitoes; strawberries and poison oak; the Dali Lama and Donald Trump. The Tao doesn’t say to itself, “Oops, sorry, shouldn’t have done that. Donald Trump, poison oak, and mosquitoes were a mistake. My bad.”

Welcoming means that I acknowledge the reality and presence of all forms and events. It does not mean that I do not act to alleviate pain, suffering, and injustice wherever I am able. It means that I admit that I do not understand the intricate interweaving of forms and events and accept that Something Bigger than my own ignorance is at work. This is a relief. It allows me to sit still and see more clearly what I might do to help rather than rushing about imposing my preferences on the landscape.

I will always, by definition, prefer my preferences. It is satisfying and comforting to know that the circle of preferences can continually expand, including more and more of the contradictory, paradoxical, and marvelous wonder of Life.

One thought on “Preferences”

  1. Whew! Thanks for this Bill! I’ve been caught in a maelstrom of striving and effort. It’s a relief to read this words and realize I don’t have to grip my life so hard in having it “turn out” the way I think it should! Reading this was a breath of fresh air.


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