By Donna D’Cruz
“By letting go, it all gets done” —Lao Tzu
Is there anyone among us who hasn’t felt bone-weary of enduring ongoing lockdowns, of dire news almost daily, cruel separations from those we love, and a general malaise of spirit that’s enervating, to say the least?
Only recently, one of the most “Energizer Bunny” people I know was complaining of feeling drained and depleted, unable to juggle the many things she once did so effortlessly. Her zippity-do-dah, can-do outlook had dimmed, and in its place was a sad lassitude and exhaustion. And if Irene was at the end of her tether, where does that leave the rest of us who are unequipped with her grit and determination? What do we tell, and how can we help the Irenes of this world, and ourselves?
I’ll say this about lockdowns: There’s plenty of time to look within, and usually, there’s time to read and reflect. There’s time to learn from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, whose gentle instructions in the art of life and the philosophy of Taoism he set forth are never more relevant than now. I resonate deeply with Lao Tzu, and here’s why…
The four cornerstones of Taoism can best be described as:
Simplicity, patience and compassion
Letting go of things, problems and life stresses
Going with the flow
Lao Tzu opines that these edicts are simpler than they look.
He says that the trio of simplicity, patience and compassion is “your greatest treasure.” In the times we’re experiencing, we need to put these things into daily practical use, with others and with ourselves. Here’s the unique challenge of this moment—it’s hard learning the lessons of patience when we feel we’ve been patient and enduring long enough. Perhaps the Victorian art critic John Ruskin had this in mind when he said, “Endurance is nobler than strength, and patience than beauty.”
Going with the flow doesn’t necessarily mean meandering pointlessly through life, either. It can mean surrendering to what is, rather than what you wish it to be. The Tao says, “Yield and overcome, bend and become straight, empty and become full.”
On letting go, Lao Tzu is very precise when he says, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” We will be changed people from recent times, that much is sure. The lesson here is to be open to who we will be when these tough times have lightened their burden on us all.
As for Lao Tzu’s say on harmony, it can be taken in many ways or in the very simplest way: striving for balance of body, mind and soul. He says so beautifully, “Health is the greatest possession, contentment is the greatest treasure, confidence is the greatest friend.” Meditation, said Edgar Cayce, the great American clairvoyant, is listening to the Divine within—I think Lao Tzu would concur with that. A daily practice of meditation can go a long way to allaying fears and stresses.
Let us continue moving forward with these blessedly simple lessons in our mind and heart. donnadcruz.com
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