Verse 2 "Duplicity"
The world is full of dualities because of opposing terms.
Beauty exists because of the Ugly, When there is Good, Evil is also there.
So the teacher lives openly with both side of a coin.
The teacher acts without force, teaches with silence
Cares for all without attachment,
Works, not for reward or results
When the work is done... it will last forever.
After introducing us to the amazingness of our world and the elements of the tangible and the intangible, this verse looks at the opposing terms phenomenon of our universe. Where there is light, dark also exists. Good with the bad, difficult with easy, high and low, short and long. But it goes further than that – without there being ‘nothing’, ‘something’ cannot exist. They all define each other, even the tangible and the intangible.
We live in a world of dualities that we have to deal with. Like two sides of a coin, you can’t have the coin if one side is missing. These dualities make one another. Without one, the other can’t exist. There also exists within the Taoist philosophy the concept of Yin and Yang, or Female and Male. Yang is closely associated with the fastness and rigidity of life, and Yin is more about slowing down, observing and being more flexible. We need to find a balance between these two states of being. Both are important, but just like the coin, we need to use both to create a balanced existence.
The 'Teacher', in this verse really refers to anyone who is enlightened to these two sides of our universe and can reconcile themselves to the existence of both. It goes back to our view of neutrality discussed in the previous verse, but it takes the state of neutrality to the next level. We are asked to look at people, or situations, with an attitude of silence and observation.
Now this can be very difficult in this world when we are bombarded by the opinions of experts and non-experts through the news media and social media platforms. Every time you read a post or see the news, watch how your inner meter swings between the dualities of good or bad, right or wrong, beautiful or ugly. These imposed opinions are very often driven by polarising comments that are designed to make you take one side or the other. When this happens feel the change in your inner energy levels. Do you feel a good energy because someone else or something is wrong? Can we start to turn off our inner filters and see people and situations ‘as they are’ and resist the urge to judge? It’s not easy, and at times very, very difficult. I still struggle with this one and it’s hard to not go one way or the other.
This doesn't mean that we don't care or become nonchalant. We need to see these dualities through a lens of caring non-attachment. Seeing from both a Yin and Yan point of view. Not an easy thing to do! But we are asked to see the world and all that it is, not just what our filters allow us to see.
As we go further into this second verse, Lao-Tzu is asking us to look further into the duality of effort and non-effort in our lives. How does this look when trying to live with an attitude of silence and observation when we labour and work. Do we expect recognition in return for the effort given? Do we expect people to say, 'Hey great job' or 'You're the best'? Do we seek these comments or encourage people to complement us for a job well done? Is there always an expectancy of approval? We need to detach from this system of reward and praise for effort and work. We can only do our best and try not to fall into the trap expecting praise in return. Being the quiet achiever is a good way to look at how we should be. This is where we will see harmony and unity in our way of moving forward in our personal, spiritual, business and relationship aspects of our lives with an inner calm and confidence. If we can look at life in this unified way and not expect rewards or favors every time we apply effort, then we are living in unity with this principle of non-attachment. Now if someone does give complements or praise, that’s okay. There's nothing wrong with that, but be sure to allow these compliments to occur, not desire them (as mentioned in Verse 1 'But when desiring one only sees the manifestation', not the mystery). Once the effort has been done, it’s time to let go and move along. How often have we done a task then tried to hold onto it and claim it as our own? In some cases, moving along may mean continuing to support and encourage these areas of our life, but with an attitude of oneness (non-judgement) and unity (non-attachment). When it’s time to let go, then let go and be free.
Once we leave our earthly bodies at the end of our time here on earth, our work of oneness and unity will last forever through our example of how we have responded to our experience here. Through our example of living this way, we hope others will also choose this path of oneness and unity, and this action will continue on through others in their lives. Passing on the baton so to speak.
How do we approach this verse from a standpoint of thankfulness? One important part of acknowledging the existence of dualities in our universe is the use of our five senses. For light and dark we need sight, for hot and cold we need feeling, for sound and silence, hearing and so on. All the shades in between give us this amazing universe we are part of. Our emotions also (good and bad) allow us to fully experience the intangible areas of our world. Once again, existence cannot be without non-existence. Essentially our world is full of dichotomies and conundrums. What an amazing universe we live in! When we have the chance to strip away the filters that rule our perception, we can see things as they are – seeing all and acknowledging all. Once we reach this point of oneness, we will carry this forward to our eternal existence.
Thank You for Verse 2
1: Thank You for an existence of the senses for us to enjoy and perceive our world.
2: Thank You for allowing us to feel and experience the world of the heart. Both Good and Bad emotions as they build who I am today.
3: Thank You for the freedom of letting go and being free.
(C) Copyright 2022 Written by Mark Wattis. All Rights Reserved. No duplication without permission.