Of old those who excelled in the pursuit of the way did not use it to enlighten
the people but to hoodwink them. The reason why the people are difficult to
govern is that they are too clever.
I used to look upon enlightenment as a way of escaping difficulties of life. Cleverness is my conscious ability to manipulate life to my advantage, and so ties into this yearning to escape. I suppose that all attempts to enlighten others are in truth merely my attempt to sell my clever method of escaping life’s suffering.
Of course this applies first and foremost to my attempts to enlighten myself! That survival side of me is incapable of regarding enlightenment as anything other than a means of gaining advantage. The sage side of me knows that it’s pursuit of the way is not aimed at gaining advantage, but rather to return ‘home’, and in fact, runs counter to gaining advantage. There is a fundamental difference in priorities between these two sides of myself.
Hoodwinking takes on numerous guises, all of which end in the ‘hoodwink-ee’ feeling better for it. Belief is the root of hoodwinking. Deep belief is what underlies the placebo effect. I suppose beliefs deserve the hoodwink description because they are all relative to the believer. Belief is like an internal metaphor through which we find connection to the mystery upon mystery, gateway to the manifold secrets. Likewise, belief in Jesus, enlightenment, and so forth provide the believer with a sense of connection to what Taoism describes as Darkly visible, it only seems as if it were there. I know not whose son it is. It images the forefather of God.[see ch. 4]
Because the focus of our spiritual need to connect is so profound, most (if not all) of us need an intermediary to grasp onto. It is easy to see why we need such hoodwinking when I ponder the Scriptural references to the un-graspable. Here are some examples of the un-graspable. In truth, though, any attempt to verbalize the un-graspable, even these below, are still hoodwinks, no?
Its upper part is not dazzling; Its lower part is not obscure. Dimly visible, it cannot be named, And returns to that which is without substance. This is called the shape that has no shape, The image that is without substance. This is called indistinct and shadowy. Go up to it and you will not see its head; Follow behind it and you will not see its rear. [see ch. 14]
The spirit of the valley never dies., This is called the mysterious female. The gateway of the mysterious female, Is called the root of heaven and earth. Dimly visible, it seems as if it were there, Yet use will never drain it.[see ch. 6]
There is a thing confusedly formed, Born before heaven and earth. Silent and void. It stands alone and does not change. [see ch. 25]
The way is empty, yet use will not drain it. Deep, it is like the ancestor of the myriad creatures.[see ch. 4]
It’s difficult to govern myself because I’m too clever. I devise all sorts of clever rationalizations why I need this or that. This inclination to enlist the mind into the service of desires hampers my search for truth and self honesty.
Hence to rule a state by cleverness
Will be to the detriment of the state;
Not to rule a state by cleverness
Will be a boon to the state.
These two are models.
Always to know the models
Is know as mysterious virtue.
Mysterious virtue is profound and far-reaching,
But when things turn back it turns back with them.
Only then is complete conformity realized.
I’m most content when I am in complete conformity with how things are—reality. I lose this and become unsettled when I become attached to one model—an idealized reality. Then, when I expect reality to conform to this cherished model, I suffer.
When I sense the profound, I want to hang on to that state and not return to the mundane grind of my human existence—competitions, fears, needs, frustrations, phobias. My quest for enlightenment has really been a quest to transcend this grimy side of existence. Ironically, this idealistic quest only increases my sense of grime. By NOT using my pursuit of the way to enlighten myself, but instead just simply turning back when things turn back helps me feel at home in this universe, whatever the current conditions of it may be. Thus, when I suffer, I suffer, when I’m well, I’m well.
Never losing sight of the models is the only way I’m able to uncover a mysterious virtue (that) is profound and far-reaching. But I only realize the most complete conformity, when I can let go of the models, and just be. But Ah Hah! these two are also models. Trying to understand reality always brings me back to the paradox. This is just how all inclusive reality really is.
The two models are simple opposites. If Balance is one model, then Imbalance is the other. If right is one, then wrong is the other. If primitive is one, then civilized is the other. If spiritual is one, then material is the other. If real is one, then ideal is the other. One produces the other. Becoming locked into either model leaves me with a profound sense of isolation. I try to re-connect by pushing for my cherished model. But, I only end up feeling more isolated. I only find relief in One does less and less until one does nothing at all, and when one does nothing at all there is nothing that is undone. [see ch. 48]. Of course, this is also a model, but one that counterbalanced the models I push for.