Enlightenment is an interesting illusion. Just as chapter 2’s Something and Nothing produce each other, so do ignorance and enlightenment. The question is, what does enlightenment Correlate to, Something or Nothing? (See Tools of Taoist Thought: Correlations, p.565.)
If enlightenment is Something, it correlates to obvious, bright, light, life, full, sudden, special, etc. If enlightenment is Nothing, it correlates to DARKLY VISIBLE, DEATH, EMPTINESS, PERPETUITY, IMPARTIALITY, THE CONSTANT, etc. Chapter 40 sheds light here… In the opposite direction, of the way moves. Loss through death, of the way uses. All under heaven is born in having. Having is born in Nothing. The last line suggests that it is very misleading to believe that enlightenment is Something.
The biology that impels us to resist entropy runs deeper than any enlightened singularity in our brain’s mind. Enlightened or not, our animal nature still runs the show. In this regard, we are all in the same boat. Chapter 49 reveals this unity… The sage has no mind of his own. He takes as his own the mind of the people.
Striving to live an enlightened life is more realistic, and available to all. The only problem is knowing how to proceed. Many profits offer paths, and each path has its champions, often claiming that their way is superior. Ironically, this becomes a way to avoid taking “the beam out of thine own eye”, as Jesus put it. Ironically, passionately touting one’s way as superior is actually symptomatic of one’s deep personal insecurity—fear. What is more, chapter 65 reveals a deeper uncomfortable natural truth, Of old those who excelled in the pursuit of the way did not use it to enlighten the people but to hoodwink them. (See How the Hoodwink Hooks, p.100)
If there is no actually ‘true way’, then what does one do? I find it helps to take great care in my life’s moment-to-moment rather than what I’m doing in particular or where any moment leads. It boils down to living the life I truly want to live. For that, it becomes a matter of quality versus quantity; process over resulting success or failure. As my life of desire began to feel less meaningful, I found I had no choice but to take this way more seriously. Indeed, The great way is easy (#53) when there is no alternative. In our ignorance, we chase the promises of desires until finally, as chapter 19 puts it, we come to Have little thought of self and as few desires as possible. Chapter 64 adds, Therefore the sage desires not to desire, And does not value goods which are hard to come by. I find much, if not all, of this comes about naturally through aging. We just need to live long enough until, as chapter 10 notes, When your discernment penetrates the four quarters are you capable of not knowing anything?