Getting Out of Our Own Way

cc image by wonderferret on Flickr

cc image by wonderferret on Flickr

Reflections on Chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching:

The Tao that can  be told is not the Eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the Eternal Name.

Nothingness is the Origin of Heaven and Earth.
Beingness is the Mother of the Ten Thousand Things.

When you are free of desire, you will understand the Essence of your life.
When you identify with your desires, you will observe the manifestations of your life.

Both contain the deepest secrets arising from the dark unknown, the Doorway to the Mysteries of Life.

When you are pointing at the moon, your finger is not the moon. Just as pointing at something is not something, referring to Tao is not Tao. In the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu refers to this conundrum. How can we explain something that encompasses all that we have ever known and all that we will never know?

I laugh sometimes when I come across stuff where someone is trying to prove out something in order to believe in it.  Do we think that we know everything there is to know or else it does not exist? Who are we? How is it that man has not been able to manufacture babies and yet they are born every day? How is it that plants grow without any help from us in the woods? How is it that the bears know what to do to get food? They certainly don’t need interference by man. Perhaps a bit of humility is in order.

I watched this great video on TED recently where Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) was talking about art and how many artists struggle after creating a magnificent piece because they feel a responsibility to that creation and, subsequently, more creations to come. What if we were to just let it go and realize that something came THROUGH us to create that magnificence? That is what Lao Tzu is talking about here in Chapter One of the Tao Te Ching. Accept the incredible beauty around you and don’t worry about it. Don’t feel that you are responsible for making it happen – just let it happen and don’t get in the way of your own magnificence.



  1. Love this point: “Just let it happen and don’t get in the way of your own magnificence.”

    It is that allowing of our creative energy that is sometimes the trickiest.
    Steve Rice recently posted…Are You a Lazy-Ass When You Pray?My Profile

  2. Pingback: 1 – The Eternal Tao

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  4. This is so true we need to get out of our own way. Create and release, easier said than done but I am working on it. Great post
    Athena Brady recently posted…Athena Brady’s Book Reviews December 2012My Profile

  5. Pingback: Desire

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  7. I’ve learned that the easiest way is the hardest one to get.
    Lana recently posted…GPS ME Episode 2: How to Begin ChangeMy Profile

  8. I’m sitting here wondering how to begin. The way of peace seems so lovely, and I am wound so tight. I want to be one of those people who can just let things happen, but I clutch and worry and want control. Honestly, how do I get there from here?

    Thank you,
    Liesl Garner recently posted…On Apples Staying True to FormMy Profile

    • Just like the ancient proverb says Liesl..” A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”
      Practice staying present in the moment you are in. Focus on the NOW and the rest will take care of itself.
      This moment is the only true reality. The past is done and gone and the future is some illusionary vision that may or may not ever happen the way your mind envisions it.
      Make peace with yourself….moment by moment

  9. It is from this reading of chapter one that brings my mind to ponder the larger than life aspect that resides in us and outside us, which is inextricably one. Language has a unique way of creating framework for us to understand concepts, strategies, and interpretation. Hence, “Having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth; having a name is the Mother of all things” Our use of language and labels restrict us and is the primary way we identify with and form relationships with the phenomena of life around us. According to my interpretation, desire pulls us from the special quality of life we are now experiencing. If we are eating honey and it is sweet, the desire for more will diminish its present sweetness.

    It is difficult as a westerner to imagine life without desire. I suppose because I am goal oriented and I have a habit of thinking things can always be improved. Because of this indulgent mind play, it has robbed me of some precious moments. When I let go of desire I feel a life force inside me that finds a calm self and I begin to relax. Desire is a cruel monkey to have on one’s back.

    • “Desire is a cruel monkey to have on one’s back.” Love that. Thanks for stopping by, Markus! Enjoy the series and feel free to participate in our Tao Tuesdays!

  10. We all seek and we all fail to find out… Failure is closely connected with seeking… Everything is here; we search there

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  12. Hi Amy,
    I love your interpretation here – to “just let it happen, and don’t get in the way of your own magnificence.” I love that SO much!

    I am back to the beginning, to reground myself with The Tao te Ching, and so will be referencing back to your articles as I go.

    Thank you, as always. This helps me to grow as a parent in ways that delight me.
    Liesl Garner recently posted…Darkness within DarknessMy Profile

  13. We, our true nature, gets in the way of nothing. It IS the way. ahhhh….so what is the “we” that is getting in the way. I think perhaps what is being talked and written about here is the ego that lies within, but wants out. The ego with all of it’s baggage and the heart with all of its feelings are the two things that if we are not able to detach and observe them they will control our every behavior and certainly “get in the way” of our true nature, our true self and the reality of what is; as opposed to what will be and what has been before.
    Be present, be well

  14. hi amy! what a brilliant project you have going here. you know, i was reading this piece and the comments from everyone else and it got me to thinking how charmingly fascinating it is that, despite geographical distance, the many commentators here have ended up here?

    it makes me wonder how many of the commenators here were actually looking to find this place or if we all ended up here by getting out of our own way…

  15. Ahh to be free of desire… Why is everything never enough. I have a lot of work to do here but I do take comfort in the reference that someone made to the ancient proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”

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