Can You Stay Serenely In Yourself?

Do you have the patience to wait

till your mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving

till the right action arises by itself?

The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.

Not seeking, not expecting,

she is present, and can welcome all things.”

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 15

Stay home. Alone with ourselves and our households. Dinner outings, concerts, sporting events, and leisure travel taken away. Discomfort and disquiet resulted. Without fine tasting food prepared by others, music and sports played by bodies other than our own, or the sites of other homes and homelands, where were we to look? At ourselves. Within. Our own lives, decisions, and the world we built or accepted as a place to live. 

If you don’t realize the source,

you stumble in confusion and sorrow.

When you realize where you come from,

you naturally become tolerant,

disinterested, amused,

kindhearted as a grandmother,

dignified as a king.”

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 16

We were unbearably discontent. When made to stay within the walls of our home, we climbed them, scratching at the paint. When made to sit within our own skin, we crawled inside of it, uncomfortable with the fit. Too big, too small. Growing, shrinking. Desperately seeking the respite of externality, we screamed for the injustice and justice of the day.

Thus the Master travels all day

without leaving home.

However splendid the views,

she stays serenely in herself.

Why should the lord of the country

flit about like a fool?

If you let yourself be blown to and fro,

you lose touch with your root.

If you let restlessness move you,

you lose touch with who you are.”

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 26

It was not the outside world. It was not the system. It was not the screens. None of those things were the sources of our perturbation. It was being forced to look within and not liking the view. Of sitting with ourselves and not liking the company. Deep in the well, we scraped at the walls to reach out. Will we keep reaching?

If a country is governed wisely,

its inhabitants will be content.

They enjoy the labor of their hands

and don’t waste time inventing

labor-saving machines.

Since they dearly love their homes,

they aren’t interested in travel.

There may be a few wagons and boats,

but these don’t go anywhere.

There may be an arsenal of weapons,

but nobody ever uses them.

People enjoy their food,

take pleasure in being with their families,

spend weekends working in their gardens,

delight in the doings of the neighborhood.

And even though the next country is so close

that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking,

they are content to die of old age

without ever having gone to see it.”

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 80

Looking out my dark window, the wind blows and the snow falls. The plows clear the road and the walks are salted to enable travel outside. Must we go outside? It has been cold.