He who tiptoes cannot stand;
He who strides cannot walk.
I stride when I’m chasing my goal. I stride forward in the hopes of success and the contentment that achievement promises. So while I’m racing forward I cannot walk in contentment. Now, if success really brought any lasting contentment, then this sacrifice might be worth it. It took me awhile to realize that striding was never ending, especially if I believed it would bring me peace. Having broke this illusion, I still stride, but I’m also able to just walk with contentment.
I tiptoe to grasp that which is just beyond my reach. As a way of life that means nothing here and now is enough. I need just a bit more. And when I get just a bit more, am I happy—no; I want still just a bit more. Of course in the natural setting of a tool-less primate on the savanna, always being on the lookout for a bit more would serve my survival and overall well being. Ahhhh, but now this instinct only pulls me away from standing in the midst of this plenty. In the end, it is standing in appreciation of what I have that makes me happy. The tiptoeing and striding for a bit more only holds an (empty) promise of happiness.
I tiptoe and stride to attain perfection. It’s so silly. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder; thus, how futile the quest striding for perfection.
Walking and standing lie in the middle between striding and sitting down. It is so hard to keep to the middle ground. We seem to always be pulled to extremes. Buddha’s notion of the Golden Mean sure hits the nail on the head. I notice that I tend to start striding or tiptoeing when I get bored with being content. It’s ironic. I stride with the hope of winning, and when I do I rest content, for a moment, until I get restless and begin the cycle all over again.
He who shows himself is not conspicuous;
He who considers himself right is not illustrious;
He who brags will have no merit;
He who boasts will not endure.
From the point of view of the way these are ‘excessive food and useless
excresences’. As there are Things that detest them, he who has the way
does not abide in them.
When I eat excessive food I get fat and produce more useless excrescences. Why do I do anything in excess? Simply put, I want more when I feel I don’t have enough. Thoreau said ‘A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone’. Thus wanting more and/or clinging on to what I have are the true symptoms of poverty.
Why is being right (if I am) not enough? I need to consider myself right; I fortify my certainty by convincing everyone else. I have noticed that as I become secure, the need to convince others diminishes greatly. Knowing this process helps me understand the inner dynamics of people, and so I don’t take their outer machinations too seriously. All our ranting is rooted in deep insecurity.
It’s when I feel I lack merit that I tend to brag. Showing, bragging and boasting are symptoms of a sense of inner loneliness and isolation. I resort to these when I’m desperate to connect. If you’re impressed you’ll accept me. Of course it has the opposite effect, usually.
He who has the way does not abide in them conveys an important process. When I have the way, there is no urge to abide in them; it all happens naturally—I’m not trying to avoid anything. And, if I don’t have the way, then it doesn’t matter what I do; I end up abiding in them one way or the other.
This all hinges on how secure I feel. When I have the way, I feel secure. Yet, I really have nothing. The way that can be spoken of is not the constant way[see ch. 1]. I guess what makes me feel more secure now is that I accept the emptiness and feel more at home with it. I know it can’t be filled, and so I can rest content.
A translation of the Ma-Wang-Tui manuscripts puts it this way: As for the Way, we may say these are ‘excess provisions and extra baggage’. Creation abhors such extravagances. Creation is Things with a capital T.
Things applies to my sense of Nature; it’s not something specific, although each specific thing is effected by the whole Thing. This all reminds me of natures preference for efficiency, and excess certainly departs from efficiency. Things (nature) detest the inefficiency of excess. When things are inefficient, Things don’t work optimally. There is waste.