Soul food

Everybody on earth knowing
that beauty is beautiful
makes ugliness.

Everybody knowing
that goodness is good
makes wickedness.

For being and nonbeing
arise together;
hard and easy
complete each other;
long and short
shape each other;
high and low
depend on each other;
note and voice
make the music together;
before and after
follow each other.

That’s why the wise soul
does without doing,
teaches without talking.

The things of this world
exist, they are;
you can’t refuse them.

To bear and not to own;
to act and not lay claim;
to do the work and let it go:
for just letting it go
is what makes it stay.

—Ursula K. Le Guin

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

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.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn't possess,
acts but doesn't expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

—Stephen Mitchell

If something is beautiful, something else must be ugly.
If something is good, something else must be bad.

You can't have something without nothing.
If no task is difficult,
then no task is easy.
Things are up high
because other things are down low.
You know when you're listening to music
because you don't hear noise.
And something else came first, so this must be next.

The Masters get the job done without moving a muscle
and signify without saying a word.
When things around them fall apart, they stay cool.
They don't own much,
but they use whatever's at hand.
They do the work without expecting any favors.
When the job is finished,
they move on to the next job.
That's why their work is so damn good.

—Ron Hogan

There's a lot in this verse. I think Laozi is wrestling with the nature of the world—there are bad things, ugly things, hard things. Why? Because without them, there would be no good things, beautiful things, easy things.

How is one supposed to move and behave in this world full of death and hatred and meanness and awful things? Well, refusing to acknowledge that things are that way is not an option. Laozi says: let go of your expectations. Don't hold on to stuff. Not the good stuff or the bad stuff.

این نیز بگذرد‎, this too shall pass.

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