“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize
there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
The above quotation is from Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher writing in the 6th century BCE, and the presumed founder of Taoism and author of the Tao Te Ching. When I read this saying, I think how very similar this message is to the message I have frequently written about: the Sign of Enough and knowing clearly the answer to the question “how will I know when I have enough?” We have had many years to learn this, and many of us seem to be on the path or awakening to it. Wherever we are, it is time now to pay close attention to this question.
There are many things to fuss and fume about. There is the political situation in the United States about which many of us are in real despair. There is the current and growing economic inequality in this country. There is the fact of the deep racial prejudice, which recently and rightly has been thrust into the forefront of our attention. There is the seemingly constant assault on our environment and our on-going two steps forward and one step back approach to solving some of the problems. There are the myriad serious difficulties around the world including the constant threat of terrorism, the heart rending refugee crises with no win-win answers, ancient border, ethnic and religious disputes. The list seems endless.
In the midst of all this, how can we, with Lao Tzu, “rejoice in the way things are?” Does doing so seem at best childish and irresponsible? I think not. I think adding to the sense of woe accomplishes nothing, and, at least for me, makes me feel completely impotent. From that place, I can take no action. As the teacher Abraham says, “you can’t get sick enough to make sick people well.”
What if instead we stop, take stock, and realize we can “be content with what (we) have and realize there is nothing lacking?” When I breathe deeply and repeat those words, I can feel a deep sense of peace seeping through my body. I can feel a relaxation, an opening that makes it possible for me to attend to the messages arising that sound something like “I know what I can do!” From that place where I know I have everything I need and nothing is lacking, I can open to “OK. THAT is enough. I am going to step forward and take this action.”
That is what happens for me. I invite you to come back over and over to the saying from Lao Tzu and discover where it takes you. It may be similar to my experience or it may be completely different. Whatever the result, it is exactly the right thing. If noted, it will lead you to something important.