The Tao and The Nature of Confusion

Daikan Basho, Contributing Writer
Waking Times 

We live in a complex world and simplicity is often difficult to come by. This is especially so in the world of intangible ideas about things such as the future. What the world should look like tomorrow.

In seeking to manifest tomorrow, we participate in politics, religion, civics, activism, evangelism and so on, consuming ourselves with outwardly organizational efforts to tweak the future to our liking.

Virtuous as it may be to volunteer, stump, debate and donate, the genuine source of our societal problems goes overlooked by most.

The true nature of mankind can not be hidden from time.  The Tao Teh Ching effectively captured the truest essence of human nature 2500 years ago, and returning to its simple wisdom can help us to overcome the confusion about the nature of our world.

The deep insights offered by this timeless text shows us how can genuinely affect change in this world.  And that is by addressing the root of our problems: the self.

  • Ponder this beautiful passage from the Tao Te Ching, #38:

    One of subtle universal nature
    is not conscious of being virtuous,
    therefore, he is truly virtuous.

    One of partial virtue attempts to live up to
    an external standard of virtue.

    Therefore, he is not truly virtuous.

    One of whole virtue does not need to do anything
    in order to be virtuous,
    because virtue is the very essence
    of one’s true nature.

    But, one of partial virtue believes that something
    must be done in order to prove that he is virtuous.

    Thus, partial virtue becomes prevalent
    when people fail to follow their own true nature.

    Benevolence becomes prevalent
    when people fail to be naturally kind.

    Etiquette becomes prevalent
    when people fail to be righteous and considerate.

    When people find no response with etiquette,
    they roll up their sleeves
    and force others to respond to them.

    When people stray from the subtle way of universal nature,
    they can no longer perceive their own true nature.

    Thus, they emphasize relative virtue.

    When natural virtue is lost,
    society depends on the doctrine of humanism.

    When natural virtue is lost,
    society depends on the doctrine of humanism.

    When humanity becomes corrupted,
    social and religious teachings appear
    and become powerful forces.

    When social and religious teachings become corrupted,
    what is left behind is the empty shell
    of superficial ceremonies and artificial etiquette.

    When etiquette is emphasized,
    it is because people lack the simple qualities
    of fairness and kindness.

    This is the starting point of people of confusion.

    All of these man-made, partial virtues
    are merely superficial flowers, a false nature.

    When people begin to move away
    from their own true nature,
    it is the beginning of hypocrisy.

    Clarity comes in simple packages.

    About the Author

    Daikan Basho is a traveling guru of life.  A Yogi, philosopher and eternal student of the martial arts, he searches tirelessly for self-perfection.  Through the physical arts and written word he intends to move the people he comes in contact with toward the realization of a happier, more fulfilled life. Daikan is a contributing writer to

    From “The Complete Works of Lao Tzu, Tao Teh Ching & Hua Hu Ching“.  Translation and elucidation by Hua-Ching Ni.

    This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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