“The fault lies not in the stars but in ourselves”. That bit of Shakespeare speaks to our modern paradigm. By modern, I mean the epoch beginning with the Renaissance (14th century) that followed the fall of Rome, i.e., the so-called Dark Ages. Note how these labels bias the view of cultural progress right away in favor of the modern.
I see such progress as two-steps forward, one-step backward deal. It’s not that the stars actually determine our fate as the ancients thought. The ancients simply lacked an empirical understanding of biology and the like that makes life tick, and so attributed cause and effect to the stars.
Similarly, karma is a practical way of accounting for the transference of genetic information from one generation to the next. The Bible also hints at this, “He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations” (Exodus 34:6-7).
The life sciences help us understand life better now; that’s the two steps forward part. This era also embodies the self-centric and even arrogant view that I, you, and we are in control. This one-step back illusion is no doubt aided by our increasing ability to control the physical world through science and technology. Iron enabled guns, mighty ships, railroads, followed by the tools which harnessing electricity enables… autos, airplanes, refrigerators, computers, atomic bombs, space travel, etc. (See And then there was fire, p.296)
Imagination: To our benefit and detriment
There is no way to know exactly what does or doesn’t conform to nature’s reality. Even so, all the great inventions come out of imagining a reality that was up to then an unseen facet of nature. However, every such leap in understanding includes numerous misunderstandings in which we often end up shooting ourselves in the foot. We understand now that people born blind, crippled, or schizophrenic are naturally handicapped. We know the cause is genetic and not a malevolent spirit, thanks to scientific breakthroughs. Yet, we still fail to understand that we are all naturally crippled, cognitively speaking… even though the Taoist teachings spoke to this handicap millennia ago, e.g., chapter 71, Realizing I don’t’ know is better; not knowing this knowing is disease. Ironically, imagination is both vitally useful and utterly unreliable. Unreliable because we blindly believe what we think.
Knower not think, thinker not know
Chapter 71 speaks to our over-reliance on imagined truths. The security of our certainty blinds us like a disease, as that chapter bluntly puts it. The stories that issue forth from thinking preclude knowing. Thinking requires tangible details: words and names. That kind of focus makes seeing the big picture impossible. The best that thinking can do is report back some elements of what we intuitively know. However, that reporting always ends up biased because it can never convey the full intuitive knowing. Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, intuitive knowing is worth a thousand pictures.
Obviously, true knowing is a deep mystery. Thinking merely skims the surface of what we know. All the rest remains behind in the dark recesses of profound sameness, as chapter 56 so well describes. Thinking, for the most part, is also merely the smoke that arises from emotion’s fire… or embers as the case more often is.
Treating the disease.
How do we know when our thinking is not diseased? Diseased thinking is nothing more than the cognitive biases we drag into our perceptions. Chapter 71 tells us there is this disease and that to recognize that fact helps mitigate the disease. Fine, but this is only a first step. Reaching impartiality is the only way to experience thinking that is minimally diseased. Any thoughts of preference, of taking sides, of attraction or aversion, are indications of biased thinking. It couldn’t be simpler or more straightforward. It only requires courage to know and accept!
Not knowing the constant, rash actions lead to ominous results.
Knowing the constant allows, allowing therefore impartial,
Impartial therefore whole, whole therefore natural,
Natural therefore the way.
The way therefore long enduring, nearly rising beyond oneself.
Why does this require so much courage? The survival instinct is my guess. Once we fully know and accept the cause of a problem, we innately feel impelled to do something to fix it. If we feel helpless to fix our most personal problem, we stick our heads in the sand and meddle in other people’s business instead. As Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. This can sound like “the fault lies not in the stars but in ourselves”. Well it does, although here it is immutable natural instinct at fault. We are both at fault and yet naturally innocent. The way through this sort of conundrum is to realize the perfection of imperfection. The more you can do that, the more you can accept the problem as a non-fixable aspect of nature. In truth, problems are reality; solutions are illusions. That is a hard pill to swallow. This closely parallels chapter 3’s wéi wú wéi (为无为), Doing without doing. Chapter 29, 57 and 63, among others, also put it well:
With desire choosing anything, of doing I see no satisfied end.
All under heaven is divine capacity, nothing can be done to it either.
Doing decays, grasping loses.
In the external world of man, someone leads, someone follows.
Someone sighs, someone blows.
Someone strives, someone wins.
Someone subdues, someone ruins.
Because of this, the wise man leaves the extremes,
. . . the luxurious, and the safe behind. 
I do nothing and the people change themselves.
I love stillness and the people straighten themselves.
I am without responsibility and the people thrive themselves.
I am without desire and the people simplify themselves.