65 Secret Enlightenment

Reflections on Chapter 65 of the Tao Te Ching:

Pine tree covered with frost, blue toned


The ancients who practiced Tao
did not use it to enlighten people,
but kept it secret.

People are difficult to govern
because they are too clever.

Those who use cleverness to govern nations bring problems.
Those who lead with simplicity bring blessing.

To know these two ancient principles
is to understand the model of the Universe.

Constant attention to this pattern
is called Te or profound virtue.

Profound virtue is deep and far reaching
and returns things to their source, to Tao.

This realization is the great harmony of Tao.


Keep it simple.

Things are way too complicated these days. Everything is complicated. In writing, the person with the most succinct writing wins. People respond to that. People just don’t have time to try and figure out what you are supposed to be saying. People are just overwhelmed with the knowledge gathering.

Life is very simple. You get up, have breakfast, do your thing and then go to bed. Simple. You don’t have to complicate things with a bunch of stuff.

Should these ancient teachings be hidden?

This has been debated for centuries. Some people would say no. I, for one, am grateful that these teachings have been made public. Part of my whole purpose for doing this is to make this lovely little book be accessible to others like it was for me. I was not raised as a Taoist. I was fortunate enough to come across these teachings and their simplicity just made sense to me.

People want to be wise. 

In our own minds, we are always the one that holds the right answer. It is human nature. But are we right most of the time? No. Throughout the text, Lao Tzu often talks about humility. This is so important. If you assume that you don’t know, you are just better off. For some reason, we were designed blind to our own lack of understanding.

I think that this is one of the reasons that we often get caught up in self-criticism. 

Deep down, you know that you don’t know it all, but your inner dialogue sometimes gets a little carried away. The tape in your head is pretty busy coming up with all kinds of talk about what you need to do better. The key is not to believe all of it, but to use this information for making yourself better. Use that critical mind to discern what is really true for you and what is just you getting down on yourself. Look for evidence. It helps me to imagine that I am my own best friend. I listen to my inner dialogue and if the voice in my head is being mean to my best friend, I try to listen for what needs improving. Just like our mothers, those tapes are there for a reason. They want us to be safe and protected.

American government is full of complexity.

If we try and pass a law, by the time it gets out to the Congress it is such a complicated mess of a thing that people end up voting in things that they never really supported but had to vote in because it was part of the greater thing that they wanted. It’s pretty complicated and messy. If you just look at any legal document, you will see what I mean. Our legal system is the same way.

American life is full of complexity.

Food is even complicated. Whatever happened to a simple tomato? Now we have it diced, chemicals added, water added, herbs added and it is tossed into a can and preserved for years. Granted, this has helped us to not starve in the cold months of winter for those of us who live in colder climates, but really? Too complicated.

Our lives are complicated. Kids have soccer and hockey and baseball and dance recitals. We go to work and then we spend our evenings racing around town, or across the region making sure that our kids are successful in sports. They have homework and television and music and video games. Whatever happened to going outside and playing in the snow? What happened to scouting through the woods and catching frogs? Simple.

I think if things were truly simple worldwide, we would have peace on earth.

My neighbors are nice people. I like most of them. The ones I am not so fond of are the ones who have agendas. The rest of them are great. Yes, they do stupid things but I don’t worry about that because we all do stupid things. I don’t have wars in my neighborhood. It is the complexity that has built the wars. The smoke and mirrors that has built nations has created wars as a bi-product. If I don’t know my neighbor, I don’t have to trust him. If I know him, I will trust him. The truth is just that simple.





  1. I agree, so many people over-complicate their lives, leaving them stressed out and unhappy.
    Linda Ursin recently posted…Have you set any goals for 2013?My Profile

  2. It’s so funny you mention catching frogs in this post, Amy. That was one of my favorite youth activities (the girls never got it but my guy friends thought I was cool). I’d argue tight and engaging writing is better than succinct :-). I do agree with you, though, on how strange it is that so much of the Tao seems to encourage secrecy. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more were exposed to the nuances of these teachings? Thanks for doing your part to make this so.
    Nanette Levin recently posted…Small business blogging funMy Profile

    • Awww, thanks Nanette. I always love reading your comments, on so many levels. I had to change it to frogs because I didn’t think a lot of people caught salamanders like I did! lol… We were woodsy girls. My dad was a forester, so in his early career, we moved from one small forest to another for him to take care of. We always lived on the edge of one too, of course, because my dad’s career was his deep love. Even now, he loves traipsing through the forests if he gets the chance.

  3. John Kajiwara-Arnold

    Seeing animals float by as clouds against a dark blue sky, why do we all so often miss the chance to just lay down on the grass & behold our wondrous universe? I remember as a child staring up into the sky and clouds and sensing the greatness of the Tao and feeling so at one with everything. It really is so simple.

    • Oh, John. Yes. This time of year is the best time to do that too, isn’t it? The trees are gorgeous and the air is crisp! It is also a great time for bonfires and enjoying the night.

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