You may be having a really hard day today. You may be trying so hard to reach a goal, or you may be working so hard to fight a bad habit that you just can’t seem to beat. You may be trying really hard to make a relationship work that just seems to be going no where. You may be trying so hard to succeed in your job, and it feels like you are stuck in the same, old place. If life feels really hard, and it feels like you are getting no where, I encourage you to let go and flow like water. That may sound like odd advice, but it is actually very old advice. The DaoDeJing suggests to us that water is a perfect symbol of goodness. We read in chapter eight of book one,
The highest good is like water.
Water is good at benefiting the myriad creatures, while not contending with them.
It resides in the places that people find repellent, and so comes close to the Way.
In a residence, the good lies in location.
In hearts, the good lies in depth.
In interactions with others, the good lies in benevolence.
In words, the good lies in trustworthiness.
In government, the good lies in orderliness.
In carrying out one’s business, the good lies in ability.
In actions, the good lies in timeliness.
Only by avoiding contention can one avoid blame.
What the Dao is suggesting to us, I believe, is that when we stop fighting against things and flow with what is–acting in the spirit of benevolence, trustworthiness, orderliness, etc.–we are good, and we find the good we seek. You don’t have to force; you can flow. And you don’t have to understand that. You can just be it as much as you are able right now. Breathe. Pause. Slow down. Be gentle. Relax your shoulders. Show compassion. Let others be. Let yourself be. Stop and look at the sky. Listen to the birds. Express love. Flow.
Laozi. DaoDeJing. Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan W. Van Norden, ed. Hackett Publishing Co. Indianapolis, IN: 2001.