Reflections on Chapter 77 of the Tao Te Ching:
The way of Tao is like stretching a bow,
the high end comes down,
and the low end rises.
When it is too long,
it is shortened.
When it is too short,
it is lengthened.
The way of Tao
is to reduce the excessive
and increase the deficient.
The way of man
is to increase the excessive
and decrease the deficient.
Who is able to take her surplus
and offer it to the world?
Only the woman of Tao.
She acts and yet does not claim credit.
She does not wish to be viewed superior.
Life is like a sine wave.
It goes up and it goes down. If things are really good, use that time to prepare for things going the other direction. When things are bad, be prepared for things to get better. Understand that the waves are there, that there are waves in time and that is how life works.
You are not going to be going up all the time.
If you’ve had a really good wave of things going up, know that things may go down and it is OK and normal. I think as we get used to things going up, if we get used to one end – we are not expecting and are not prepared for the other end. It goes both ways.
If you are really struggling, it can feel hopeless.
Sometimes we forget to remember that things get better eventually. Things can get better. Both understandings can be helpful. If you are in a really positive place and things are really up, if you are not prepared for things to go negative – if they go negative from a really up place, it can be somewhat devastating. It can be unsettling. If you understand this principle and you “stretch the bow” and allow the opposite to interplay, allow the worst case scenarios to surface.
Ask yourself, “What am I going to do if this [insert catastrophic results here] happens?”
Just be prepared for that scenario and the wave will be less of a wave for you. The thing that happens with this kind of pattern is that people get on a high and they think that it is just going to be like this forever and when it does come down, they crash. They crash hard because they haven’t really prepared for it at all.
In the other case, if something is really negative, if things start going well, they don’t trust it. They wait for the other shoe to drop. If you are in a bad place and things start improving, if you go to the negative space and you are making it worse for yourself instead of allowing the natural patterns to come about. The same goes with the positive.
What you are doing is you are trying to pull in the opposite, so you have a more stable experience. So your experience is not so up and down with extreme swings. You want to lessen the extremes so that it is a smaller wave and not such high ups and downs.
High waves are called drama.
Many people really play up things. When things go bad, they play up the bad. They cry and they moan a lot. (I do this sometimes.) If things are really good, it is just SO WONDERFUL! (I do this too sometimes.) When you increase that wonderfulness by being very expressive and emotional, you are creating a larger wave. This is NOT to say that you should not be happy or excited. I am just saying that, when you express fully, the natural wave pattern is that it comes up higher and goes down higher. There is a way to be joyous and not be jumping all over the place. There is a deep settled form of happiness that can be here in the present moment and be OK with whatever way it is.
This form of happiness transcends the wave.
The wave can be up or down but the type of deep happiness with what IS lies just outside of that. Your life could be falling apart around your feet on one level, and on another level you can be deeply happy because you are looking at the wave.
The key to riding the waves is counterbalance.
Recognize where you are and counterbalance yourself. Allow yourself to explore the opposite side while you are in one half of the wave. Let it be OK to explore the other side without your internal critic coming up and shutting you down.
So what do you think? Do you get caught up in the drama sometimes? Do you ever recognize it while you are in it? Let us know in the comments below. If you enjoy this post, please share it! If you haven’t done so already, please join our mailing list. Currently, I am mailing out a chapter a day to whomever wants it. (You can join my list without this as well – just don’t check the box to be included in the chapter mailings.)