Tag Archives: Lao Tzu

Day 439: Resisting Change

There is a quote from Lao Tzu that I have found very supportive and insightful when things in my reality seems to become shaky:

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

What this quote shows to me is the benefits of letting go of control and expectations. Why struggle to create something that simply does not want to come through effectively? And how many of us do this. We are stuck in life situations that we desperately try to keep moving – and all the while – there is this struggle that underlines every push. What would happen if we let go of our visions and start working with what is real? What would happen if we dare to kill our darlings and look at things with fresh eyes. Sentimentality is a completely unnecessary luggage.

I have seen this clearly when it came to the career I decided upon. The interesting thing was that I initially tried to become a musician. And even though I loved it – there was a struggle, a fight, and conflict existent. It was seldom smooth and effortless and I never got the results I wanted. It was as if there was something off – I could not get through the way I wanted. And then I decided to change direction – and I pursued a profession that I did not particularly enjoy – however – I was really good at it. And when I aligned my vision/future according to my real self and my actual strengths – and even though it was not easy – it was not the same struggle anymore. There was a light in the tunnel. And the results I achieved were very cool and convinced me that I was on the right track. I stopped resisting what was naturally here with me and instead went with it/nurtured and strengthened it.

Animals do this as well. They are most of the times extremely specifically designed to fulfill a particular role in their environment. And no animal tries to actively alter their physical design to fulfill a different purpose in their environment – because for example – they have a dream or vision about it. Animals embrace their physical strengths completely and use them – they do not resist their nature. And that is something many of us humans miss. We think we have to become something different – we compare ourselves – and we use ideas of what is good and what is bad to make decisions. None of that is based on REALITY – on WHO we really are.

Change is part of reality – resisting change is the same as resisting reality. And what happens when we do resist reality is that we create conflict – both within and without. However – this does not mean that we should become followers. Rather – we should become practical and learn to work with what is here to achieve our goals – and to align our goals to reality – and be open to change our direction when something does not work. This is something that I am practicing. And it is balancing act – because being too practical, and too accepting of what is my reality at moment, can also lead to complacency and the creation of comfort-zones. Going with the flow can easily become detrimental if there is no direction – no vision of what we want to create/manifest – and in such a state we can accept less than what we are capable of becoming/doing.

Hence – while I do not want to resist reality – I also do not want to accept reality when it is less than what it can become. And struggles do not necessarily need to indicate that our approach is misaligned – it can be a point we are trying to create that is a big challenge – yet still possible to be created. What it comes down to is self-honesty. We need to listen to ourselves, our hearts, and our self-honesty and also let some doubt in now and again, so that we can question where we are at and what we are doing and if that is what is best.


Day 417: What Difference Between Yes and No?

What I like about children is that they do not define themselves according to the past, neither do they define themselves according to the future, neither do they define themselves according to what they do. For example, if you ask a child what he or she is doing, he will answer that is doing whatever he is involved with in that moment. He will not explain what kind of career he aspires to have, what future he hopes for, what kind of hobbies he is involved with. He will share himself – and as a child his attention is completely HERE.

I miss that ability to be completely engulfed in living as it takes place HERE – with such an intense presence that the past and the future dissolves. Because as an adult, I have become so used to pursuing plans, goals, careers, ideas, various abstract structures, that are helpful and do have a natural place in life, but that can block my life force when allowed to be in the foreground. Plans, goals, the past, and the future, that is not life – these are tools to live LIFE – and as tools – I decide when to use them. If my plans and my goals constantly arise within my inner mind throughout my day, and take focus from my present moment, then I am not in control, and then I have lost my childish innocence and ability to be present here.

There is a really good quote from Lao Tzu on this point:

“Stop thinking, and end your problems.
What difference between yes and no?
What difference between success and failure?
Must you value what others value,
avoid what others avoid?
How ridiculous!

Other people are excited,
as though they were at a parade.
I alone don’t care,
I alone am expressionless,
like an infant before it can smile.

Other people have what they need;
I alone possess nothing.
I alone drift about,
like someone without a home.
I am like an idiot, my mind is so empty.

Other people are bright;
I alone am dark.
Other people are sharp;
I alone am dull.
Other people have purpose;
I alone don’t know.
I drift like a wave on the ocean,
I blow as aimless as the wind.

I am different from ordinary people.
I drink from the Great Mother’s breasts.”

What I take from this quote is that there is great peace, joy and calm in living completely HERE and not defining oneself according to the changes that is a constant in reality. And it makes sense – that if I do not define my reality as positive or negative – and I do not define the changes that occur as good or bad – I will simply deal with whatever comes my way without any particular instability. When there are no expectations, no fears, no hopes, no desires – I will be able to live without constantly looking for something more and reacting to what comes about.

When it comes to purpose, I also enjoy this quote. Some days ago I heard a philosopher that talked about purpose. He said that if you lock yourself into a room for a month, then after a while, you will get an urge to do something, and that which you want to do, that is your purpose. What I saw however was that such an approach to purpose is limiting. Purpose is not something that is supposed to control us – and purpose will change from moment to moment. It does not make sense that we have one interest, hobby or passion that is to be our guiding beacon in life – and that we are supposed to arrange everything according to this experience. Because if that is the case, we will miss everything else! There is so much to life and to ourselves, and each moment holds a gift – a present to be unwrapped.

I do not want to have one purpose – I want to be purposeful – and repurposed for each and every moment to be the best that I can be. If my daughter needs some from me – my purpose is to be there for her. If I require to do something at work – my purpose is to get it done. If I am by myself with nothing in particular to do – my purpose can be whatever I wish – I can give myself the purpose to utterly relax and let go – and for a moment – allow my body to regain its energy. And living like this can probably be seen as an aimless drift – however there is a structure and a direction – it is in every moment – it is flexible and embracing – the same as water – and shifting with whatever is required. Water can crash, it can pour gently, it can find its way through small cracks or move around objects – it always works in symmetry with its environment.

I will be like water and practice living in every moment come what may – and stop valuing what others value, or make differences between yes and no, success and failure – all of it is still only different nuances of the present moment.


Day 331: Why We Should Reinvent Our Childhood

“Compared with adults, children do not yet have the ability to see a self that extends temporally into the future. This, however, is not a liability, but rather an asset that allows them to view their future without gloom and fully enjoy the present feelings of happiness. That is why the children of the world can look happy so long as they are happy in the present.”

― Yoichi Sakakihara, M.D., Professor of Ochanomizu University

Childhood, I remember that as a time in my life that was thoroughly enjoyable. Obviously, that is not so for everyone, as childhood can also be a terrible experience. However, as children, undoubtedly we do have an ability to live in the moment that surpasses that of any adult. I remember when I used to visit new places as a child, for example a forest, being sensitive, attuned, and completely in the present moment, it was an adventure without comparison. All my senses were active in experiencing and interacting with this new environment – and that ability to be FULLY here in the moment was what contributed to creating that almost magical feeling of adventure and astonishment at the small moments, that by adults were perceived as insignificant or completely missed.

This skill disappears as we age, and that is sad, because obviously, we as adults also need that sense of adventure and fulfillment in our lives, else, we simply become like robots, walking around to our next appointment, doing our thing, without really knowing why. From my perspective, and from what I have found, the reason why we loose this ability to be in the present moment is because we compare what is here to what has been, we actively use our experiences and memory-bank to define and give points to our current reality. This use of memory to interact with reality also dulls our senses and makes us less sensitive and attuned to the present moment. We thus miss so much of reality, because we are busy in our mind evaluating what is here, instead of LIVING with what is here.

One clear example of this is how adults tend to judge weather such as rain, storms, cold, and similar, as ‘bad weather’ and enter a gloomy experience, and oftentimes complain at the weather. What children do with bad weather is that they embrace it and allow themselves to experience and be part of and explore that particular moment of weather. For example, rain becomes an adventure without likes, as rain offers pools of water, and different animals come out from their hiding places to get moisture and look for food. Children hence know and apply one thing in their lives that we adults tend to miss, it is not about where we are, not about what we are, not about when we are, it is about WHO WE ARE – basically meaning that – we DECIDE what our present moment will be like – either a moment of presence/interaction/connection with the physical – or a moment of existing in our mind comparing what is here to what we would like it to be like.

As adults we look for life in all the wrong places, because we have forgotten that point of presence which we embodied as children. Life will not ever be born through realizing a dream or reaching a goal, such points are merely moments of satisfaction, and enjoyment, though not the same thing as the constant and fulfilling approach to reality that children master. Hence, the secret to life does not exist in changing our material physical world, it is instead within us, in our approach, and in essence, in our relationship with ourselves. If we want to have fulfillment, adventure, and enjoyment in our lives, this is where we should look, and not make the mistake of believing that the problem is our physical reality.

The above though is only true to some extent. We do undoubtedly have physical needs, we have to eat, drink, shit and piss – and if our basic needs are not fulfilled effectively – then it is not possible, or at least very difficult, to embody presence and live fully in every moment. This is why we require a new economic system with an equal distribution of resources – to make sure that everyone has to opportunity to discover and live their unconditional and childlike expression in this world.

What is then the solution? How is it that we return to our childlike selves? I find the following quote very supportive in this regard.

“Stop thinking, and end your problems.
What difference between yes and no?
What difference between success and failure?
Must you value what others value,
avoid what others avoid?
How ridiculous!

Other people are excited,
as though they were at a parade.
I alone don’t care,
I alone am expressionless,
like an infant before it can smile.

Other people have what they need;
I alone possess nothing.
I alone drift about,
like someone without a home.
I am like an idiot, my mind is so empty.

Other people are bright;
I alone am dark.
Other people are sharp;
I alone am dull.
Other people have purpose;
I alone don’t know.
I drift like a wave on the ocean,
I blow as aimless as the wind.

I am different from ordinary people.
I drink from the Great Mother’s breasts.”

― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

The solution to stopping our continuous adult contemplation and replace it with LIFE is to STOP thinking. Thinking not only steals our attention from the present moments, it also becomes the building blocks of our life, and the problem here is that we have not even investigated the consequences of our thoughts; what does our thoughts really create? We must remind ourselves that the future will only ever be an abstract concept, something we use to make sense of time and space, however, LIFE will only ever be HERE. Thus, when we think about the future it should only be to organize and plan for our life HERE, yet that plan must not, and in reality cannot, take precedence of what is HERE. Hence, a plan, or a goal, will never in itself fulfill us, give us peace and joy – if we want to experience such words for real – they must be created HERE in our everyday life – in the mundane and recurrent. And in doing that, what we will discover and understand, which children already see, is that life HERE is not mundane, it is a constant flow of new moments that we can only ever really see if we stop thinking and instead place our full awareness in the present.


Learn more about this way of living: