As most of you know, at the end of each year, I choose a book with different thoughts for the upcoming 365-days. Giving me different things to ponder on my meditation cushion every day. In 2018, I chose to reread The Tao of Joy Every Day, by Derek Lin. Below is an excerpt from his book, but know where there are italics, it is my personal input, not the author’s. I love how simple and direct this is written, in theory it sounds so easy … in real life … well … let’s just say it’s a good one to practice every day.
DAY 188 • FOUR KEYS
Chapter 57 of the Tao Te Ching starts out talking about how the king rules, but ends with a description of how a sage lives. These seem like two different topics until you realize that they are both directed at you.
Specifically, Lao Tzu talks about the four things to minimize: attachments, chaos, interference and desires.
Minimizing attachments means taking actions without obsessing over specific outcomes. To be attached is to get in the way of your natural excellence. Being open to how you arrive at a goal (desire), is being in the flow of life, trusting the Universe. As I remind myself and students, “Less in More. Flow without Force.”
Minimizing chaos means quieting the noise of stray thoughts and self-talk in the mind. Without internal quietness, you cannot deal with others with calmness and composure. I know for me, taking 15-20 minutes on my cushion everyday, gives me a chance to connect with my inner being, and allows me to respond more instead of react. Please know this is a “practice” for me, I am by no way perfect.
Miminizing interference means letting people be. They have their own paths to walk. Interfering in their business will only cause disruptions. This is a big one for me, “loving people where they are,” even though at times, it’s hard to witness their behavior, and that’s when I choose to love them from afar.
Minimizing desires means easing up on the never-ending cycles of material acquistions. It is a bottomless pit that leads only to more desires. I see desires as feelings, asking myself, how do I want to feel? Instead of focusing on the things because the thought of acquiring them is usually only because I think it will make me feel good. So, beginning with how I want to feel works for me, and it also allows me to let go of the specific outcome of a goal/desire. [expanding my natural excellence] Here’s what I have been focusing on feeling: Radiantly Confident, Vibrantly Healthy, Abundantly Appreciative, Intuitively Trusting with myself and the Universe.
These are the four keys to the private kingdom of your life. If you wish to rule wisely, you now know what to do—or precisely, what to minimize.
Below is Chapter 57 from the Tao Te Ching, translated by Stephen Mitchel.
If you want to be a great leader,
you must learn to follow the Tao.
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
and the world will govern itself.
The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
the less self-reliant people will be.
Therefore the Master says:
I let go of the law,
and people become honest.
I let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
I let go of religion,
and people become serene.
I let go of all desire for the common good,
and the good becomes common as grass.
Makes one ponder how our world might be today, if we all lived a little more by these principles.