(Issue #613) Tao Te Ching: Perspective on Life with Integrity

Even the down times—those times when we seem confused and falling short of our goals—
have lessons to teach.


Reading a translation (by Stephen Mitchell) of Tao Te Ching I was taken by seeming contradictions (to my mind) that Lao-tzu used to teach about a life lived with integrity.  Such as:

…Being and non-being create each other.

Difficult and easy support each other.

Long and short define each other.

High and low depend on each other.

Before and after follow each other…. (Verse #2)

As I explored other verses, the lessons began to take shape in my mind and offer a path—a way—to think about a life lived with purpose. The Tao’s meaning was getting through to me. Perhaps as we work with head down, we lose sight of what is in us, in front of us, above us, beneath us, and behind us. We lose perspective.

Fill your bowl to the brim

And it will spill.

Keep sharpening your knife

And it will blunt.

Chase after money and security

And your heart will never unclench.

Care about people’s approval

And you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.

Then only path to serenity. (Verse #9)

Even the down times—those times when we seem confused and falling short of our goals—have lessons to teach. Times we feel behind, exhausted, and/or in danger present themselves for contemplation and growth. Because if we mindlessly sharpen, sharpen, and sharpen some more (see Verse #9 above), we could end up dulling our senses, emotions, morality, and perspective. A light guides us-if we heed it.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

…There is a time for being ahead,

A time for being behind;

A time for being in motion,

I time for being at rest;

A time for being vigorous,

A time for being exhausted;

A time for being safe,

A time for being in danger…. (#29)

The way to ourselves requires us to pause and listen to others and ourselves.

Knowing others is intelligence;

Knowing yourself is true wisdom.

Mastering others is strength;

Mastering yourself is true power…. (#33)


Those who know don’t talk.

Those who talk don’t know…. (#56)

Or as Mitchell states in his Foreword, we need to move toward doing not-doing. Less and less do you need to force things…


Video recommendation for the week.

In his nod to the Tao, Willie Nelson sings (Live at Farm Aid 1993) “Still is Still Moving to Me”.


Make it a wonderful week and HTRB has needed.

You will find my latest book, Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit, in
eBook ($2.99) and paperback ($9.99) format. Click 

My dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story. Please, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019print and e-book). Available on Amazon. More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at the above link.
  • Stories about Teaching: No Need to be an Island (2017, print and e-book)Available on Amazon. One college’s new faculty onboarding program uses the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos (see the link above) would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

You can find my podcasts (all fifty episodes) here.

You will find more about me at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2022. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®
Atlantic Beach, Florida

About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
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