The Opposite Within

Reflections on Chapter 58 of the Tao Te Ching:

Full Moon Over the Ocean

A light government does not interfere.
A heavy government causes disturbance.

Calamity leans upon good fortune.
Good fortune is hidden in calamity.
Who can say the result?

Good turns into evil,
evil turns into good.

People have been confused for a long time
by this movement of life.

The sage is sharp without piercing,
pointed without being hurtful,
direct without being too severe
and enlightened without being flashy.

People are always trying to avoid the down side.

Everything has its opposite woven into it.  Everything.  Success/Failure. Day/Night. Hot/Cold. We’ve talked about it enough times. Failure is a learning opportunity. That is the nature of things – things have their opposites built in.

Woven into your busy life is a peaceful state.

Each moment you are taking a breath and there is the space for that moment to be at peace. Peace is the opposite of calamity, yet it is always present inside the chaos. Like a thunderstorm, you always know that there will be a calm after the storm. It is destiny. We get caught up in the storm and forget. We get engrossed in our private dramas and forget our internal peacefulness.

People get confused by how things are.

People get confused by this natural cycle of things. We all do. We think things are good and they are just going to stay good forever! We have a case of permanent amnesia for this energetic cycle. “Yeah!,” we say, “Things are great! It will be like this forever!” But it isn’t designed that way. Or, if things are bad right now we feel like it will be like that forever. We know intellectually that this isn’t true, but it is wired into every fiber of our being to feel like it will stay like that forever.

People naturally do the right things.

When left to their own devices, people manage themselves just fine. Our children don’t need us meddling and nitpicking them every step of the way, our employees don’t need us monitoring their every step. Leave them alone, TRUST them and they will do OK. In fact, they will do better than OK – they will shine. This chapter is reminding us that people do their best when we trust them to do what is natural to them.

We have amnesia about this, too.

As adults and leaders, we think that if we could just show them the “right” way to do things, things will turn out better. Actually, if you try and control things it will be a mess. When the government has a high level of regulation on things, it ends up being more of a mess. When you keep it simple and back off, and don’t try to have things be controlled, things just kinda work out.

Good turns into evil,
evil turns into good.

I think it’s time that we give evil a rest. So often, the really good people turn out to be evil, like Tiger Woods winning all of our hearts and then having an affair. Sheesh. We were so let down, but were we surprised? Not really. Deep down, some evil people may just have some good in them too. You can’t say, “I want a penny but I don’t want the back!” EVERYONE has both sides.

You have to have both sides
of something for things to be natural.

The evil things are necessary in order to define the good things. The wrong needs to be there in order for the right to be understood. The wrong is always going to be there. It is the back side of the door. The opposite of the same thing.

So give your inner evil a break.

Take a skip day. Wear your shoes indoors. Have a second piece of pie.


Have a great holiday (my American friends!) and for the rest of you, enjoy your week! Please leave a comment in the box below and say hello! We’d love to hear from you! Or, if you enjoyed this article please share it with the buttons at the top of this page!


  1. The only thing permanent in life is change.

  2. Thank you so much. I needed this reminder. And I have to admit, I meddle in my children’s tiffs and tangles. I want them to play harmoniously and forget that they have little battles to wage to learn, through experience, the pleasant feel of quiet. This was like a breath of fresh air to me!
    Liesl Garner recently posted…“Love is 20 things, but it isn’t 19″My Profile

    • As I was cooking pies with my daughter last night, I was thinking of this chapter. It is a lifelong lesson as a parent to learn NOT to meddle. I think most of us never learn it! lol… So I hear you, Liesl. Glad you stopped by!

  3. What a great post, full of wisdom as always. I read your posts every day but must confess don’t always leave a comment Amy. something I wish more people would do on my blog lol. Guess I better walk my talk, have a great day.
    Athena Brady recently posted…We are all so insignificantMy Profile

    • Oh, Athena. Thank you. Yes, as a blogger it is hard to tell how many are really reading your blog! Thanks so much for the comment and the kind words.

  4. Give my inner evil a break – how powerful! It is so interesting how all of this flows and how hard it can be to see the reality sometimes. More food for thought…thank you.
    Michele Bergh recently posted…11 Tips for Blogging SuccessMy Profile

    • Yeah, I kinda laughed as I wrote that, Michele. I was thinking that a lot of people might not like that I said that even, and then it made me want to write it even more! lol… We DO need to give ourselves a break. Overall, we are way too hard on ourselves. You have been a good person in my life for reminding me of this!

  5. Thanks for the reminder to appreciate the challenges for the good things they bring. It is a circular world, isn’t it?
    Nanette Levin recently posted…Social Media is an oxymoronMy Profile

    • People often forget that the so-called “bad” things help us to define the good things. I think that is one lesson of the Tao Te Ching that keeps coming back again and again.

  6. Such an interesting post Amy. Thank you. I needed some of these very important reminders, others I seem to be doing better with than I ever was. Things are balancing themselves more naturally in my life. Sometimes we need to see the contrast to help bring us back in balance and know what it is that we don’t want. It is all personal lessons isn’t it. Well done. xo
    Suzanne McRae recently posted…Etsy Sale – Black Friday to Cyber Monday!!My Profile

    • I think it helps to remember that everyone struggles with these things to some degree. The contrast is such an important part of this work… recognizing that what we perceive to be the negative holds a gift inside for us if we can allow ourselves to see it.

  7. Amy, yep, yep, yep, I fit into those amnesia categories again and again. It is comforting to know I am not alone!
    Janet recently posted…Seeing Anyone?My Profile

  8. Great post Amy. Yes we all forget that things change all the time and letting things be and backing off, usually works better!
    Sherry Marshall recently posted…More of Everything but Less HappinessMy Profile

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