Reflections on Chapter 8 of the Tao Te Ching:
The highest goodness is to be like water.
all the Ten Thousand Things,
yet does not compete.
Water will go to the low places
and be content.
This is like Tao.
Tao dwells in low places.
Tao dwells with all people.
A home prefers level ground.
A heart prefers depth.
Relationships prefer kindness.
Words prefer sincerity.
Leadership prefers peace.
Serving others in daily life is most effective when one lives in rhythm.
Woman is respected when she does not compete and is therefore without blame.
Water is an amazing thing.
We are all made up of water. I think we’ve really just barely scratched the surface of what we understand about water. It is so much a part of everything that we are. Our plants couldn’t survive without water. We can’t survive without water. It is the basic building block of life. It’s a very powerful force, but its also very yin. It goes to the lowest places. Like in this eighth chapter of the Tao Te Ching…Lao Tzu talks about how water seeks the lowest places. I think that is one of the reasons water is mentioned so often in the Tao Te Ching – because it is such a great representation of yin. It is nature’s way of expressing the Tao. It is one of the elements.
Water is flowing…water flows.
That is it’s destiny – to flow. It just flows where it’s needed. It flows into the low spaces because that is where it is needed. Energy is needed there and so that’s where it goes. So, if you think about this chapter of the Tao Te Ching, one of the big lessons of it is to determine for yourself – where are you needed? If you are water, because essentially we all are water, where are you needed? What is it that you bring to the world that brings you to a space where you are needed somewhere? That is when you really feel at home.
If you notice yourself and notice how you feel when you are really utilizing your gifts, what is it that you were brought here to do? The other day, I was talking with a friend of mine. She suddenly has come into a lot of money and we were talking about how you deal with that. Money and time are two of the factors that people struggle with. Not having enough money or not having enough time – and when you suddenly have both – what’s your life about? That’s when it comes back to that thing about water flowing where it’s needed most. It flows to the lowest place because that’s where it’s needed. It always flows down. The energy of helping people is really powerful. How do you help people? What are the gifts that you bring to the world and what are you doing to help people with them? The more that you have that connected, the more that you are doing that and you are really focused on that, the better your life will be.
It doesn’t mean you have to quit your job. That may be just a small part of what you bring to the table. Granted, if the job that you are working at leaves you feeling as if you are not making a contribution and you’re feeling like it should be something else, that might be telling you something. But you can always volunteer or something. There are lots of things a person can do without quitting their day job. It’s about finding that place…where is that place where you can have a contribution for people and really be there and help people?
To me, that’s what Lao Tzu is talking about here with the water. Water is flow and if you have flow in your life. If you are in the flow with your life, you are doing your business. You are doing what you should be doing. That’s water. Water is who you are. It’s what you are meant to be. You can look at that metaphorically, but you can also just look at it! Water is who you are! Yes, it is! You can go a long time without food, but you can’t get far without water because it’s what you are made of. The quality of that is worth looking at. What are the qualities of water and how is that important in your life? And, what are you doing? Are you doing what you need to be doing?
I struggled for some time with that because I thought I needed something extra in order to be doing my work and I realized that I don’t. I realized that it doesn’t matter. I don’t even care. I mean, I do care, but I don’t care about it being a certain way. I am going to just do my work and it will all just come together. It will all just come together beautifully. I know this to be true.