Water Nature

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 8

Our true nature is like water.
It doesn’t decide whom to nurture and whom to avoid.
It doesn’t decide that some tasks are too distasteful.
It flows like a river to the ocean, nurturing everything in its path.
This is the nature of the Tao within all people.

Living by this principle,
we choose dwellings that are simple and humble.
We meditate to cultivate quiet and serene thoughts.
We treat all beings with loving-kindness.
We speak with compassion and clarity.
We manage our lives for the benefit of all beings.
We live in awareness of the present moment and take action only when the time is right.

In this manner our life flows like water and fulfills itself naturally.

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Some say that this chapter is, in fact, two separate poems that were joined to illustrate what a “water-like” life would be. In any case, managing my life for the benefit of all beings is an amazing idea, staggering in fact. What would such a life be like? It would require a sense of identity quite different from the parade of identities that march through my conditioned mind. Living simply and humbly would not be a virtue, but simply the natural way to live. Quiet and serenity would also be natural, undisturbed by the fears and illusory desires of culture. Ah, it would be a lovely way to live.

You say, “it is my true nature?” How interesting. To think that my life might flow like water and fulfill itself without effort, naturally. What an idea! No pious effort. No straining to do good. No constant questioning of my choices and actions. No fear about fulfilling my destiny. Simply flowing along in all my water-moods, watching things unfold.

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