"Hard rains do not last all day."
Tao Te Ching - Chapter 23
The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained
To be of few words is natural.
Strong winds do not last all morning,
Hard rains do not last all day.
What cause them?
Heaven and Earth.
If Heaven and Earth are unable to persist,
How could man?
Those who follow the Way are one with the Way.
Those who live virtuously are one with virtue.
Those who deprive themselves are one with deprivation.
Those who are one with the Way are welcomed by the Way.
Those who are one with virtue are welcomed by virtue.
Those who are one with deprivation are deprived of deprivation.
Those who do not show trust will not be trusted.
Deprived of Deprivation
Greed and excess are not kindly treated by nature.
Every culture contains several examples of this in myths,
fables, and historical records. Lao Tzu states it several times in
his book. Here, he also points out that sacrifice brings its
very own form of reward: Those who are willing to make
sacrifices will often find that they avoid them. They are
deprived of deprivation.
Lao Tzu plays with words, but not with their
meaning. The nature of deprivation is such that those who
welcome it will be deprived of it. Deprivation ignores them.
Their sacrifice is not called for, just because they willingly offer it.
This also means that those who try to avoid it will get
it in abundance. What you try to escape is exactly what
will hunt you, like the predator does its prey. Living is not
for free. Those who try to escape the costs will be
charged double and triple, whereas those who willingly open
their purse will find it untouched. The major costs in life
appear for those who reject them.
There is what we call poetic justice to life. From
those who take indiscriminately, there will be taken. To those
who give willingly, there will be given. Life is a puzzle of
paradoxes, making sense only at a distance.
So, when Lao Tzu concludes in the last line,
which seems to be only vaguely connected to this chapter, that
you must show trust to be trusted, then he means it to be
true also for your relation to nature and its Way. Those who
volunteer to make sacrifices have that trust, and therefore
the Way of nature goes their way.
It's easier said than done, but accepting life as it
unfolds in front of you is the most rewarding way through it.
© Stefan Stenudd.
Tao Te Ching Explained
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