In today’s society, it is considered quite normal to work hard, to be ambitious, to be continually pushing towards our goals and dreams. As we discussed in my post Decrease, we are ‘hard-wired’ to expect that life will always improve, or at least our life. And in this context, we can easily slip into impatience when improvement is not forthcoming. Not to mention, God forbid, when we meet obstacles, setbacks, decrease or failure. How can we be patient in our modern way of life?
In the Tao Te Ching, we find an invaluable ally: non-desire.
We are victims of our desires; every concession to their demands, each satisfaction obtained is a defeat since, in the world of the senses, the objects of our desires are mere apparitions. This race toward illusions takes us far, always farther from the Tao. That is why ‘There is no greater error than to wish to satisfy one’s desires; there is no greater misery than not knowing how to be sufficient in oneself. There is no greater calamity than the desire to possess.’ (46)
Instead of pushing, striving, and desiring all the time, what would happen if we took our foot off the gas? What if we let go for a while? What if we were ‘attentively patient’?
The misfortune is that we encumber our lives with calculations, with expectations, where past and future, hopes and dreams, apprehensions and regrets, are mixed together in a perpetual confusion. By subordinating all our actions to the requirements of our personal desire, these parasites of the soul prevent us from having a simplistic vision of existence, because they leave no room for the unknown, i.e. for the Spirit.
(My translations from the Dervy edition of the ‘Tao Te King’).
Discover the Taoist principle of non-desire. Allow the Spirit to work its magic in your life a little. It is better at it than you.