Tao Te Ching Verse 70: Paying Attention
Tao Te Ching Verse 70
translated by Bruce R. Linnell
My words are very easy to understand,
Very easy to practice.
But there is no one in the world who can understand them,
There is no one who can practice them.
My words possess a lineage,
My duties possess a ruler.
Now : only because I am without-knowledge,
Thus I am not understood.
Those who understand me are rare,
Consequently I am one who is valued!
Thus the sage wears coarse cloth, but carries jade in her Heart.
Photo by 五玄土 ORIENTO on Unsplash
The Return to Harmony
How would you describe the color red to a person who might be born without sight? Here you are, around colors your whole life, watching them mix to create new colors, playing around with them, and you are trying to describe what sensation you get when you see the color red to someone who simply doesn’t know.
Lao Tzu says that his teachings are easy to understand and easy to practice - like our ability to experience things. In Harmony with the Tao, Lao Tzu practices the Way - which when you’re in it, in flow, you get it.
Maybe like a dream? When you're in the dream, things just seem to make sense, whether they’re logical or not. That male person who is embodying my mother and who is popping wheelies in a car over there? That all makes sense - at the time. But then I open my eyes and try to make sense of it, or even more challenging, try to explain it to someone else, and well, yeah. Not happening.
So yes, easy to understand and easy to practice - if you get it. Which is why I feel he says that even though they’re easy, no one can understand and no one can practice. The Tao is something that you just have to ‘get,’ isn’t it?
Well that’s not fair, I might say. How is it that the Tao is available to everyone and yet I can’t get it if I don’t get it? Well. on the surface, it would appear that all doors are locked, wouldn’t it? Like if I’m not plugged into the Tao, I’m basically talking about something that might as well be a dream, or an imperceptible color.
I guess it’s a good thing that the Tao is always giving. All I need to experience just a tiny bit is a little bit of the opposite of what I’ve got between my two ears in the beginning. For me, and most of the time, I had habits of shutting out the Tao - they just developed as my sense of self did. You know, fear, anger, embarrassment, guilt, shame. Those things. But when I started looking in the opposite direction of those things, the Tao suddenly unlocked its doors and I was able to enter. Actually, I think it was me who unlocked those doors from the inside - the Tao did nothing except remain available.
By practicing compassion, contentment, and humility - the three treasures - I am able to access the Tao. What seemed inaccessible before now becomes something I’ve always been able to get. Like Dorothy’s red slippers, I have with me the ability to travel home any time I want by concentrating on practicing the three treasures.
So, easy to practice and easy to understand? You bet! When I am of the world and concentrating on my worldly stuff and giving attention to all the ego-feeding desires I have? It’s pretty much impossible for me to access the Tao when I am 100% invested in that stuff. Thankfully, I’ve got tools like natural compassion, contentment and humility that I can tap into at any time to offset those things and return to Harmony.