Imposing My Ideas

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 58


This path is unobtrusive,
allowing the simple purity
of those who follow it to emerge.
If it were a path of interference and control,
those who tried to follow it would be miserable and would soon turn aside.

What we call good fortune and bad fortune
are mixed together in all events.
If we try to have one without the other,
we will become completely confused
and everyone’s suffering will increase.

The one who follows this path will have firm principles,
but will never impose them
or injure others in their name;
will be honest, but never cruel;
will be consistent,
but never at the expense of others;
will be a guide to people,
but never overshadow them.


In a world where interference and control are simply the way things are done, it is difficult to conceive of another way. The certainty of our beliefs and the imposition of our own values on other people are basic strategies that we hope will help us avoid the terror of vulnerability. But this false certainty only numbs our ability to live joyful and creative lives.

It seems to all come down to our need for control; to force events and people to be what we want them to be. Somehow this, we think, will keep us safe, secure, and comfortable. But it doesn’t work. Life is a complex mixture of events and the Tao flows in each of us in unique ways. This period in history makes us even more desperate to impose some sort of order on the chaos, but chaos is what is right now. Imposing my idea of order may not be as helpful as my conditioned mind wants to believe. It is enough to remain true to myself.

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