The Tao Te Ching: Verse Twenty-Nine

Those who wish to take the world and control it
I see that they cannot succeed
The world is a sacred instrument
One cannot control it
The one who controls it will fail
The one who grasps it will lose

Because all things:
Either lead or follow
Either blow hot or cold
Either have strength or weakness
Either have ownership or take by force

Therefore the sage:
Eliminates extremes
Eliminates excess
Eliminates arrogance

                                                  Lao Tzu

I found my way to Eastern philosophy through the Western approach to health and wellness; or rather my dissatisfaction with the Western approach to health and wellness. The formative years of my nursing career were spent practicing critical care and emergency trauma. My reverence for the need and value of these specialties never faltered; but after about seventeen years of practice I found myself unsettled.

I used my knowledge and skills to offer lifesaving and therapeutic interventions to my patients but I was being haunted by a sense that somehow it wasn’t enough. I felt helpless to truly influence or control the human situation that came to my Emergency Department in endless waves of need.  I struggled with this inner unrest with my profession for years until I finally had an epiphany and accepted that my torment arose from a sense of lacking within myself and not my profession. I committed a very common error. I looked outside myself for answers instead of having the wisdom and courage to look within.

In Verse Twenty-Nine, Lao Tzu counsels us to let go and to acknowledge what is truly within our Circle of Influence or Sphere of Control. He gently guides us to embrace that it is folly to try to control anything in the outside world because our perspective is littered with blind spots of personal needs that make our judgment unreliable. It is impossible for anyone feeling a sense of no control to believe that all is as it should be.

I believe one of the dominant themes of the Western approach to life is singular achievement which ultimately drives us into isolation. I have come to realize that this is a recipe for unhappiness. There is no finish line; you never belong, you never arrive. The essence the Eastern view of reality is the awareness of the unity and interdependence of all things and events. The world is composed of the threads that weave the fabric of the phenomenon of basic oneness. All things are an inseparable part of the cosmic whole. Peace of mind (wellness) is rooted in the trust that all is as it should be.

Eastern core values can be summed up in three points: to be mindful of thoughts, speech and actions, meditate with the intent of developing insight and understanding, and to lead a life of self-respect and respect for others. These things are the only outcomes that we can drive and truly control. These core values create our true Circle of Influence and ultimately offer us the ability to lead an Awakened Life.

Investing in developing your inner world will create s powerful magnetic energy around you. When you align with the Oneness of all things you will discover how comforting and irresistible your inner light can be.  You will attract what you want into your life. This is not magical thinking; it is being in the Flow.

“Proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. Reactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern.” Stephen Covey

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