It occurs to me that there are two fundamental approaches to life: The first is striving to conform to ideals of how to live; this usually amounts to expecting yourself and others to conform to a moral code – often religious.
The other is striving to reach great conformity with whatever is naturally so—the way things actually are. This usually amounts to rethinking perceptions until you reach impartiality and the sense of utter acceptance that can bring.
Each path entails difficulty, perhaps equal difficulty overall. However, our individual experience is where we live life. For me, I’ve always felt very frustrated and tense when attempting to shoehorn my life into a predetermined way to live—an ideal (and boy did I try). When I finally gave up on that and started taking the lower position—just being myself—life became simpler and a whole lot more gentle. Looking back on it, in desiring a little less, [I had to] first make an effort.
I expect letting life just be goes against the grain of the survival instinct. We innately feel a need to take action, to do something about perceived problem, i.e., any realities that stand in the way of what we desire (need + thought) or worry about (fear + thought) in life. We want change; change we can believe in! Such thinking (and thought in general) is the only major difference between animals and humans. Therefore Taoist say, realizing I don’t know is superior, not knowing this realization is a defect.
Digging down a bit deeper, I imagine our preference for action makes us more inclined to ask how than to ask why. That may account for some of the unintended consequences in which we find ourselves. Overtime, I have found that pondering the way leads to the most beneficial and effective how. This, more than anything else, avoids putting the cart before the horse.
Now I’ll let the Tao Te Ching embellish on the pictures “the path” and “the way” above…
This last quote is from chapter 80, and flies in the face of what is nearly the universal human paradigm. Namely, humanity prefers to see itself on the path of progress, mostly. Naturally, we will never unwind our progress and return to the use of the knotted rope. The computer, not to mention electricity, is here to stay. However, I find this call to simplicity helps me keep perspective. Every gain we take comes at a cost. The glitter of progress quickly blinds us to those imbedded costs… and we wake up with a hangover wondering why and then, to make matters worse, seek and find scapegoats. All we need do is look in the mirror to find who is responsible!