Most People Do Not Understand This

Reflections on Chapter 70 of the Tao Te Ching:

A Lotus Pod

A Lotus Pod

My words are very easy to understand
and very easy to practice.

Yet no one has the ability to understand them
or practice them.

My words come from the source.
My actions are disciplined.

Most people do not understand this.
They are not aware of my teachings.

The ones who understand my teachings are rare.
The ones who follow my teachings are treasured.

Therefore, the sage dresses plainly,
concealing precious gems.

Things are very simple to understand. Amen.

As I’ve explored the Tao over the last year, I realized that we always know what it is that we need to know. It’s not that we don’t know. That’s not the issue. We act like that’s the issue, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that we don’t want to do the things that we are supposed to be doing. We want to take the easy road and do the things that are easy and fun to do and not the things that we know are right to do. Besides perhaps Mother Theresa and a few others, most of us do this.

A lot of it is mindset.

Take weight loss, for example. We know what to do. Everybody knows. You need diet and exercise. There shouldn’t be 80 million diet programs out there.  But the reason why there are 80 million diet programs out there is because  we need to have something complicated so we have some excuse for not doing it.

We just need to do the simple thing.

That is why the Tao Te Ching has lasted as long as it has! It is just SO SIMPLE! It doesn’t need a lot of elaboration. I am doing all of these essays on it, but these are really just my thoughts and a fun way to get the discussion going.

It’s all been said. Everything’s been said.

My series on stillness and my series on awareness, these are basic principles of Taoism. These are simple basic things. We all know that they are good. We all know that we need them. You can look at any person at any part of the globe and they understand that these things are important.

They are universal things.

I think that is what has always attracted me to Taoism is the fact that these principles make sense across any belief system. I have been raised in a primarily Christian culture in the U.S. There is so much that can be learned by being open to other groups of people, being open to seeing that there is more than one way of looking at spirituality.

Some people say “Taoism is the way.”

I don’t really choose to put a label on it like that because it scares people off. I could just as easily be Christian and saying the same thing with the same principles and it would be the same thing but would appeal to a different set of people. I could speak Bible verses of where Jesus talked about awareness and being still. “Be still and know that I am God.” OK. Same thing!

You don’t have to put a label on things.

In fact, the labels tend to get people confused. The labels tend to put things in a box and people are like, “Oh, but it’s not in this box, so it’s not my thing.” I read some Buddhist stuff and I think, “This is cool!” I read some Bible stuff and I think that Jesus was amazing! He had some really amazing things that he taught people.

I am sure that Jesus got plenty frustrated
at people complicating simple truths as well.

What Jesus said was really very simple but people make it complicated so they don’t have to do it. We all do that. It is the human way. It is our job to be messy and screw things up and then play the game of making them right again. It’s all OK. We just don’t have to take the game too seriously.

Let’s have some fun with it!


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  1. I was once told that if we all just read the words of Christ and not the interpretations of men, we’d be a lot less war like. I’m not Christian, but I do love Christ.
    Arwen recently posted…What Will You Hear Today?My Profile

  2. Oh this is a really thought-provoking Amy. I certainly understand and agree with what you’re saying. But the passage itself has me wondering. I’m willing to agree “my words are easy to understand” but I’m not really sure “very easy to practice” is true. The true middle path seems like life-long work, constantly adjusting, constantly trusting, constantly navigating deeper understanding than you had a mere moment ago.

    I think Lao Tzu was much more a Master than he seems willing to give himself credit for. 😉

    • In the moment, anything is easy to practice, isn’t it? OH! By the way, I got a lovely little envelope in the mail yesterday. It wasn’t a bill. It was my HONEY MONEY! I think it is so cool that you sent that out to us. Thanks so much for doing that!

  3. Amy, another great post. Why do we complicate things in our life when it’s simple we need to go towards? Humans are complicated to understand.

    This really jumped out at me … “The issue is that we don’t want to do the things that we are supposed to be doing. We want to take the easy road and do the things that are easy and fun to do and not the things that we know are right to do” … I know that I have my answers in me. I also know that I often will choose the easy (lazy) road and end up complicating my life for nothing.

    There’s something about the Tao Te Ching that keeps calling my name. Do I dare ask you about it? Yes I will. Here it goes, where does one start learning about the Tao Te Ching and doing this work??
    Suzanne McRae recently posted…Using numerology to guide you through lifeMy Profile

    • There are hundreds of copies of the Tao Te Ching out there, Suzanne. I would suggest getting a few different copies and then comparing the chapters and see what works for you. You just gave me an idea for a blog post – to list out my favorite Tao Te Ching versions! Awesome. My goal is to have the resources here eventually for people who want to study it as well, but my all-time favorite Taoist is Hua Ching Ni. I wrote about him in my post entitled My Five Favorite Taoists, and linked to his work. He has written close to a hundred books on the subject and has been raised by 76 straight generations of Taoist masters. He’s pretty incredible. If you start with him, you will get plenty to chew on!

  4. You’re absolutely right, Amy. These things are exceedingly simple. I’ve been making an effort to spring clean and simplify my own life, I’ve come to a few thoughts about it.

    Firstly, it can be difficult to believe that something so simple can work. We expect complexity, but there is none. This can wrong foot people, a major lesson I learned in Tai Chi is that we need to learn to do less.

    Secondly, as you say, complexity gives us an excuse to dodge things. But when dealing with ethics, it also gives us get out clauses. The ethics espoused by Lao Tzu and Siddartha Gautama are not complex, thus there are no loopholes.
    Richard recently posted…A Bit Of a ChangeMy Profile

    • Richard, my apologies. I thought that I had responded to your comment but I think that I must not have saved it. Thank you for visiting my site. It is always fun to see new people and you are a fellow Taoist blogger so double cool! I so love the people who have paved our way to simplicity like Siddhartha and Lao Tzu, Jesus and many more. In their own unique ways, they have each tried to help us understand that love is really the key. Love and acceptance.

      I am not sure if you knew this, but I’ve done Tai Chi for years. I’ve gotten out of it as of late, but it is always in my mind to return. The principles I learned through that practice have changed my life and I will be forever grateful to my teachers.

  5. Amy this post is so simple its a paradox but very true. I wonder why we have to complicate things so much. I am going to keep this in mind the next time I do it.
    Athena Brady recently posted…Giving Something Back Post 2My Profile

  6. Great post and I love your reference to Jesus. His teachings were so simple and his example so easy to follow. It’s amazing how we have complicated it all so much. Labels are confusing and they separate people rather than give us the ability to celebrate how we are similar and appreciate the oneness of us all.
    Michele Bergh recently posted…Creative PoetryMy Profile

    • Awesome, Michele. Yeah, I think if he were alive, and not too big name, we’d have lunch. He would definitely be on my “get to know” list.

  7. Oh yes we do! I have a dear friend who loves to say “It’s so simple it’s complex”!! All you need is love and to be here now loving all life <3 Thanks for sharing and encouraging us to have fun 😀
    Emily recently posted…My Inspired Blogging ChallengeMy Profile

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