The 'Best' Resolution?

Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. The Tao Te Ching can be obscure, especially if you think you're supposed to understand what it's saying! We find it easier and more instructive to simply contemplate how the chapter resonates with your personal experience. Becoming more aware at this fundamental level simplifies life. This approach conforms to the view that true knowing lies within ourselves. Thus, when a passage in the scripture resonates, you've found your inner truth. The same applies for when it evokes a question; questions are the grist for self realization.

Chapter 18
When the great way falls into disuse
There is benevolence and rectitude;
When cleverness emerges
There is great hypocrisy;
When the six relations are at variance
There are filial children;
When the state is benighted
There are loyal ministers.

Read commentary previously posted for this chapter.
Read notes on translations


  • edited December 1969
    My favorite one is making none. I know that [chref=78]seems paradoxical[/chref]. Truly though, making resolutions is like trying to drag the horse by the cart. Prove it you say? Oh, I can’t prove it for you - each of us can only verify such things through personal experience. But that hasn't stopped me from trying yet. :oops: So, here, test this,...

    All thought, including any resolutions we make, is nothing more than our mind rationalizing the deeper emotions we feel. As our emotions go, so goes our thought. When emotions [chref=73]contend[/chref], our thoughts reflect that tension; when emotion is [chref=46]content[/chref], thought is calm. A resolution is simply a symptom of conflicted emotion. When emotion is singular, action follows [chref=17]naturally[/chref] - no resolution is required. Our desire to make resolutions tells us we are conflicted emotionally. Somehow, we still want to have our cake and eat it too, and use a resolution as a [chref=53]by-path[/chref] around facing reality. Perhaps a more effective approach would be to at least admit this lack of [chref=51]maturity[/chref]. Ironically, we have to be mature to admit this immaturity. Even so, one drop of self honesty can [chref=56]untangle more knots[/chref] in our life than gallons of ‘good’ resolutions.

    This begs the question, can we make a resolution to be self honest? Ha! Self honest never happens in the future. Self honest is now,... always now! So, resolving to be self honest is actually an oxymoron. You either are or you aren’t, moment to moment. Self honest is like the river of life - it flows.

    Our main problem is that we have [chref=46]too many desires[/chref]. A resolution is just adding one more desire to the pile. And what are desires but the mind ‘chewing over’ underlying emotion - the needs and fears (attraction and aversion) we viscerally feel. These root emotions motivate all animals to do what they do. In our species, these root emotions also drive thought. Curiously, we are ignorant of the [chref=26]root[/chref], believing instead that the thought emotion drives is real.

    We can make the most headway with the fewest by-paths by honestly seeing the root cause of our conflict. Failing that, we generally go round and round pitching one set of thoughts against another. So how do we be more self honest,... Just do it? Well, actually,... just see it! And the doing will follow naturally. Alas, there is one hitch to this great idea of mine :roll:. A lack of free will to launch it. Perhaps the first step is just accepting the fact that free will (either explicit or implied) is just another idealized thought driven by emotion - our need and unquenchable thirst to control life perhaps?
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