DiscoverThe Tao Te Ching for Everyday LivingTao Te Ching Verse 64: Getting Proactive with the Tao
Tao Te Ching Verse 64: Getting Proactive with the Tao

Tao Te Ching Verse 64: Getting Proactive with the Tao

Update: 2020-12-11
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Tao Te Ching Verse 64

translated by Sanderson Beck

What stays still is easy to hold.
Without omens it is easy to plan.
The brittle is easy to shatter.
The minute is easy to scatter.
Handle things before they appear.
Organize things before there is confusion.
A tree as big as a person's embrace grows from a tiny shoot.
A tower nine stories high begins with a mound of earth.
A journey of a thousand miles begins under one's feet.

To act is to fail.
To grab is to lose.
Therefore the wise do not act and do not fail.
They do not grab and do not lose.
In handling things people usually fail
when they are about to succeed.
Be as careful at the end as at the beginning,
and there will be no failure.

Therefore the wise desire to have no desires.
They do not value rare treasures.
They learn what is unknown,
returning to what many have missed
so that all things may be natural without interference.

Photo by Frank Eiffert on Unsplash

The Questions

The first thing I want to do is realize how the problem I have is being caused by me.  I ask myself:

  1.  Who is the person or situation that is causing me this insecurity?
  2. What are they doing?  If it’s a fear, I ask myself, ‘what’s going to happen if this fear comes true?’
  3. What type of security am I needing here or trying to get?  Emotional? Financial? Social? Intimacy?
  4. What did I do to start a chain of events that led to me having this insecurity?  A quick note - this is the most difficult part for me, as it causes me to exercise my humility here.  The important thing to remember for me is that I am not concerned with the other person’s actions; they may have contributed, but I am the one looking at my own reactions.

I’ll know I’ve completed this section if I can clearly see how I am the progenitor of my anger or fear.  Now the next series of questions is designed to allow me to see how I have a false belief that is contributing to my propensity to create anger or fear.  I want to look at that 4th question and ask, “is there a reason I am doing this?  Specifically, what belief system is at work?  For me, I believe that if I do what’s in question 4, I’ll get what I’m trying to get in question 3.”

Sometimes I’ll need to explore this a bit in conversation with others or by writing.  Once I know which belief is at work, I’ll write it down.  I’ve come up with things like, “I am alone, I will feel content if I have money, I can feel safe if this person wouldn’t behave in this way.”  Things like that.

OK, so here are the next set of questions:

  1. What is the belief?
  2. Is it true?  Or did it come from a series of reactions and interpretations of reality as I was growing up?
  3. What is the payoff for me believing this?
  4. Now: what would my life and my thoughts look like if I didn’t have this belief?
  5. Would I be willing to consider letting go of this belief?
  6. If yes, when would I be willing to let go of this belief?
  7. Moving forward, what can I practice in order to reinforce this new outlook I have?

I find that when I move through those questions, I undo and unlearn some of those destructive thought patterns that I unknowingly created as I grew into adulthood. 

Finally, I say: Thank you for showing me this.  Please now show me how I may practice living with this new outlook.  Please help me be willing to put into practice what has been discovered.

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Tao Te Ching Verse 64: Getting Proactive with the Tao

Tao Te Ching Verse 64: Getting Proactive with the Tao

Dan Casas-Murray