The Tao Te Ching: Verse Thirty-Seven


The Tao is constant in non-action
Yet there is nothing it does not do

If the sovereign can hold on to this
All things shall transform themselves
Transformed, yet wishing to achieve
I shall restrain them with the simplicity of the nameless
The simplicity of the nameless
They shall be without desire
Without desire, using stillness
The world shall steady itself

                                                                 Lao Tzu

The meaning of the words The Tao is The Way and those who have either translated or study the work agree that the author intended it to be a guide to the natural way of living one’s life in harmony with nature or The Way Things Are. In Verse Thirty-Seven Lao Tzu references the opposing natures (Yin/Yang) of the Universe and calls it the subtle clarity. I believe he is trying to make the point that everything in nature is in a delicate balance that should be observed, respected and let alone.

The Taoist individual, as a citizen of the community (The Great Oneness), accepts that all things exist in harmony with nature and; should things go wrong for the individual or the community, it is most likely due to a disruption of the energies of Yin-Yang. To restore balance, the individual must resist/stop trying to control nature. As a result, the natural Flow of life is restored and nature regains its equilibrium.

When the individual tries dominating nature (impose his/her will) it usually means that personal/selfish desires are at work. The Tao cautions that these desires may be disastrous to the individual and the community and; it implies that the individual is tampering with that which is sacred. Thankfully, these set-backs are often temporary, and Universe will restore balance but not before some amount of damage occurs as one forces his/her will into the Universe’s plan.

So much of what professional or family Caregivers do is motivated by heartfelt compassion and benevolence. But these noble sources of fuel and intent can get confused with the Caregiver’s need to know best and control if that Caregiver does not stay grounded and clear. Buddhism teaches that all human suffering (personal torment) has Desire at its core and that Suffering is self-inflicted. Try to recall the outcome and your emotions surrounding that outcome the last time you interfered, invited or uninvited.

I grant you that often times we are recruited as earth angle by the Universe. I’ve often congratulated the good works of my staff and colleagues by saying the Universe could not be everywhere, so It sent a nurse. We’ve all been asked to represent higher powers at times and many have not hesitated to answer that call. But I am not referring to those moments. I am speaking of the times when we dressed up our lower level emotions such as frustration, fear, need and anger and presented them as something very different. How would we know the difference? The outcome is torment free.

When you make a commitment to being a Caregiver, you must make a personal commitment to live a Mindful life.  Mindfulness is the ability to remain present, alert and open to what is going on in and around you without letting our emotions overpower thoughts and speech. You must work to know what fuels your actions and trust in the Universe to guide you.  Then each of us may come to know the peacefulness of putting down something that was never ours to pick up to begin with.

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