Tao Te Ching – Chapter 68
When confrontation arises
we face it without aggression.
When someone opposes us we do not give in to anger.
We view no one as a competitor
because we do not seek our own way.
We know our strengths
and we know our weaknesses.
We use them each for benefit.
We are not trying to fix ourselves or others
so we move naturally and easily along our path.
I’ve lived quite a few years now, and I am still confused when it comes to knowing my strengths and my weaknesses. My particular upbringing has conditioned me to believe that I have few strengths and a plethora of weaknesses. To compensate, I have learned to pretend that I am strong and capable, all the while believing myself to be weak and incompetent. Instead of turning my weaknesses to my advantage, I pretend they don’t exist. Instead of using my strengths in helpful ways, I tell myself that I am really not strong. So I have a difficult time exercising my true strengths.
Winter is coming and I feel “unprepared”. There are tasks facing me at which I feel incompetent. Yet, logically, I am quite competent of learning and growing. It will require the patience I was examining in yesterday’s chapter, discerning when to act and when to back off. I won’t learn to value either my strengths or weaknesses if I listen to self-punishing voices in my head. Those voices are the source of the confusion – trying to make me feel weak when I am strong, or punishing me for supposed weaknesses.
Hmm. It seems the essence of the Tao is to stop listening to conditioned voices. I’ve known that for decades, yet often forget and mistake them for real. Nice to remember.