A Perfect Refinement of Being

Reflections on Chapter 46 of the Tao Te Ching:

A Lotus Pod

A Lotus Pod

When the world follows Tao,
horses are used to plow the fields.
When the world is without Tao,
war horses are bred in the countryside.

Nothing is more unfortunate
than discontent.

Nothing is more unfortunate
than desire.

One who understands contentment
always has enough.

Our energy needs to be focused on bettering our lives,
rather than tearing each other down.

War would be completely unnecessary if people just loved each other instead of hating each other. The energy invested in war is so wasted. The lives of the horses in this chapter are lost in war. This is just an example of how that waste manifests itself. The Tao Te Ching was written at a time in China when there was a lot of senseless killing. It was a brutal time. It was a serious problem. I am not sure if it is much better today, actually. This is sad. The energy that we use every day, whether we are a soldier or an office worker or a person on the street – all this energy that we put out into the world today, what kind of energy are we creating? What are we doing?

We all have moments when we are not putting
a very good image into the world.

We get lazy and sometimes we get grouchy.  Sometimes you know what you are doing and you can see it. You just hate how you are being, but you can’t help yourself. When you are caught up in that wave of that, you can’t seem to help yourself.

All of the wars and all of the grumbling
comes out of a place
that is not how you want things to be.

You’ve made a decision that things should be different than they are and you are mad about it. Wars are the same way, but on a bigger scale. It could be a war in your kitchen or a war in your nation. It is how you are carrying yourself. The key to all of this, the key to a peaceful life is to find the contentment. Be happy with just how things are right now, as imperfect as it is. So many things would just fall apart and not be relevant anymore if you just spent your energy in that – if you were just OK with how things are, right now in this moment.

I was writing a comment on someone’s post the other day and I started to say something. My comment was about my wanting something that I didn’t have. I looked at it and I realized my mistake. I thought, “I don’t want to put that out there. I don’t want to be like that.” So I just erased it and wrote something else. It is as simple as that.

It is about catching those little moments.

You won’t catch them all or you wouldn’t be human. Try and see what little shifts you are able to notice and change for the better. You can say, “I am not about that anymore.” No guilt. No remorse. Just change it. If you have been a grouch for your entire life, you don’t have to keep being a grouch. There is nothing out there saying that you have to keep being like that. Nothing.

When you look at the energy of desire,
it is about somebody else having what you want.

That is desire. You are upset because they have it and you don’t. You want something you don’t have. Both of those things are recipes for disaster. It isn’t good. You can reverse that and say there is nothing more fortunate than being completely free of desire.

Think about those moments when you are perfectly free of desire.

Think about this desireless place for a moment. Think about sitting outside on a beautiful day… it is perfect weather, totally gorgeous and here is a free day stretched out in front of you. It is perfect in every way because nothing is desired.  The moment that you find something to be desired, you’ve ruined it.  You don’t need anything else to make this happen.

You just need to smooth out the edges.

My husband is a woodturner.  When he is working with wood,  some of the woods are just so smooth. He just keeps rubbing them and they end up smooth like glass. They feel beautiful. That is you. That is your personal development. You start out a little rough in patches and you just gradually get more refined. You work on yourself and get a little better. As you go through life, you just get better. As you age, you get better. Who would want to go back? There are so many things that have come out of this lifetime so far. So many lessons that you have learned. They are beautiful refinements of who you are and who you are becoming. Like a fine wine, you are continually becoming. It’s a beautiful thing.

So what have you noticed in reading this chapter? I would love to hear from you. Please add your comments below. If you like this post, you can help me out by sharing it with the buttons up in the top right sidebar. That would be great. I can’t do it without you. My goal is to spread the awesomeness of this work. 🙂


  1. Amy, Thank you for bringing the Tao into this day, this time. I am reading and agreeing, reading and agreeing. Then there was a bump when I got to the part on desire. I think of desire as a positive thing, as in “I desire to be in alignment with God’s will for me,” etc. As I’m reading further, it appears you are equating desire with a restlessness, with a dissatisfaction with the present moment. Perhaps I can shift into appreciation for being in alignment, to the best of my current ability . . . thoughtful post, thank you! And thank you for naming the lotus pod–I never knew that is what those unique pods were.
    Janet recently posted…Light-Filled – Spiritual CookiesMy Profile

    • There are two sides to desire, I guess. I love it in some ways because it puts us in touch with the direction we are going. If our body is the barometer, desire is the mercury. (If it is mercury inside of a barometer, not sure on that one! lol…) You get the idea! Desire fuels us. I am not saying to get rid of it, I am saying to pay attention to the energy of it. If you are longing for something in an “I want it, I don’t have it” kinda way – you are not doing much to bring it to you. If you are desiring something in an “I love this thing” and you stay in appreciation of the thing, you will more likely draw it to you. It’s a fine line but your body knows it. Your spirit knows it.

  2. We do need to focus on improving our lives and living in peace. I agree that there are two sides to desire. It can be a motivator and and indication of what our hearts and souls want for us but it can also become an unhealthy space to be in. I like your idea of just paying attention to the energy around it.
    Michele Bergh recently posted…Today I ChooseMy Profile

  3. I would love to consciously bring back more love and peace into my life by by paying more attention and becoming more conscious. Being free of desire… how liberating that would be for me. There always seems to be one more thing that I want to do in life. Being content with what is can be challenging still for me. But this was a great reminder that I can become conscious when I choose to do one more thing and bit by bit I can possibly start shifting that. When we become aware anything is possible. Thanks for writing this great blog post.
    Suzanne McRae recently posted…Take a peek in my Etsy shop… my latest addition for Christmas!My Profile

    • You will never get there. None of us will. All that we can ever do is just work on today, Suzanne. Perfection is not the goal. The goal is to keep working on yourself. To make today better than yesterday, if you can. If not, then make this moment work. Stay in gratitude and don’t worry about the rest.

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