without desire for greatness, tao achieves greatness


 

The great Tao

floods and flows in every direction.

Everything in existence depends on it, and it doesn’t deny them.

It accomplishes its work without naming or making claims for itself.

Everything in existence is clothed and nourished by it,

but it doesn’t strain over anything.

Aimless, ambitionless, it might

be called “small.”

 

Everything in

existence returns to it,

and still it doesn’t lord over anything.

Thus it might also be called

“great.”

 

Because it has no desire to

be great, it can achieve 

greatness.

 

from The Tao te Ching of Lao Tzu,

Chapter 34

 

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hexagram 15, ch’ien / modesty


 

The Creative acts

to empty what is full and

to offer abundance to

what is modest.

 

This hexagram suggests that a deepening of one’s modesty now is a sure means of improving the situation. There is no power so great as modesty for compelling the assistance of the Sage – nor one so hindering as immodesty. Those in high places who retain their modesty are loved by all and continually prosper; those below who cultivate modesty inevitably rise on the strength of their merits, without making enemies along the way.

But what does modesty mean? Certainly it entails a refusal to boast or act imperiously with others, even in small ways. But beyond this steadfast humility it also means that our effort to discern what is right and then do it is constant; we do not work against ourselves, and we do not indulge in doubts about the wisdom of correct conduct. This unwavering commitment to what is correct might be called “the modesty before the Sage”.

So there is in modesty a component of nonaction – that is, not indulging in arrogant, ego-centered behavior – as well as a component of active effort: looking for opportunities to correct ourselves, to assist justice where there is injustice, to feed where there is hunger, to give solace where there is pain.

Finally and most plainly, modesty means holding to innocence, sincerity, and openness in every situation. To do this is to empty ourself and make room for the blessings of the Creative to take root.

from The I Ching, or Book of Changes

Hexagram 15, Ch’ien / Modesty

 

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Forget the body. 

Let go of sensations 

and obsessions and objects. 

Do not-doing to the point that thoughts 

cease to arise. Releasing mental constructs 

and emotional entanglements, you’ll 

begin to flow as a sage. Then let 

go of that notion on 

top of everything 

else.

 

Wei wu Wei Ching, Chapter 15

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you are already realized


 

You are

already realized.

It is critical to understand this.

Enlightenment is less a matter of charging

forward to achieve something, and more

one of doing not-doing — of leaning

slightly back and silently

accepting its constant

presence.

 

Once you have

done this, go on practicing.

Without straining, continually pour the

emptiness of your being into the

emptiness of existence, and

drink what comes back:

emptiness.

 

Wei wu Wei Ching, Chapter 17

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