Who Knows?

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 73


We do the best we can,
yet sometimes our actions seem harmful.
At other times they seem beneficial.
We find no answer as to why this is so.
We are only shown the way to walk,
one step at a time,
accepting both harm and benefit as essential parts of life.
We are shown how to remain quiet,
yet respond to every situation.
We are shown how to be present,
even before being called.
We are shown how to be patient,
yet accomplish everything.

The mysteries and unknowns along this path are many,
yet on it we never lose our way.


I’m not even sure I can be clear about my intentions. Hidden behind an altruistic act may lurk a subconscious desire for gain. And the best of intentions can end up in overtly harmful results. It is reassuring that even Lao-Tzu allowed these things to remain a mystery.

Rather than perseverate about motives and results, I find it more helpful to just keep taking the classic next step along the way, accepting results as temporary things that may change in the next moment. I don’t know, really, what is best. All of my great accomplishments may mean nothing in the fabric of time. All of my mistakes may work together for some greater good beyond my own lifetime. Who knows?

I won’t lose my way if I just let the unknowns remain unknown, and the mysteries remain mysteries. I do know what comes next this morning – posting this little journal and pouring another cup of coffee while I sit by a warming fire and wait for Nancy to wake up.

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