Lenten Observance: Day 32

Tao 63 & 64

63: “Act without doing…” This is again a repetition of the importance of wu wei.  But it is a later statement in 63 that I find interesting: “When she runs into a difficulty, she stops and gives herself to it.”  That seems quite profound.  Though both 63 and even more 64 talk about dealing with things when they are small, so that they don’t turn into big troubles, I would have to say this statement seems to be a profound statement about what often happens — there’s still trouble.  No amount of preparation can save you trouble — it may still be a good idea to try and anticipate and deal with trouble before it becomes great — your best option is to ever be ready to improvise.  And here the master does not run from trouble, but accepts it and learns from it.  The idea of knowing that there’s always going to be trouble is very appealing to me as an Enneagram 6, but the idea that when it comes, one doesn’t panic, but deals with it is an important lesson to be learned.

64: This chapter deals much more with dealing with things while they are small or growing, rather than waiting until we have trouble big time.  What the master “desires is non-desire; what he learns is to unlearn.”  So the master is not after anything other than freedom from desire, learning poise in difficulty.  And learning to unlearn seems to be something one learns to do in the martial arts — try to get back to beginner’s mind.  When you learn things, your mind is closed to certain ideas, or at least it becomes tougher to entertain those ideas.  Thus, in a patriarchal society, even as we work to be more inclusive and accept the idea of women’s equality, there is all that stuff we’ve internalized over the years.  And even the idea that women are equal to men or blacks are equal to whites suggests that male and white are normal, and that other groups are as good as that norm.  For me, even though I don’t believe in an anthropomorphic deity, when I hear the word “God,” or even “god,” I tend to think of angry white guy — I may not act on that, and I may work past it, but that is my default position.  Being aware of it makes it possible for me to attempt getting past it, but that lesson I internalized from my youth stays with me.

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