Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.
When we don’t see the self as self we have nothing to fear
See the world as yourself.
Love the world as yourself
Much like wei wu wei, the doing not doing or effortless doing of Taoism, the text of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching is riddled with seeming contradictions. In my understanding of certain Asian philosophies, polarity is not the definitive that it is in Western culture. How would one not see the self as self? Does this simply mean to step outside of our own thoughts and ideas? And what does that even mean outside of metaphor?
Though I am perhaps reading quantum physics and universalism into this, I read this to say we are all connected and it is only our consciousness and our immediate protectiveness that gives us the desire to focus on one’s self rather than on the reality of the interconnectedness of all things and our non-singularity in the universe. The universe is not about us, the humans making a home on this planet. The universe was here before us and will be after us as well. We need to be reminded of this perspective and our placement in all things.
I believe the author is telling us to look at ourselves not in the natural, survivalist sense. We are really simply not just ourselves at all. If we are focused on just our lives we will worry for only ourselves and fear what happens to us only. By shedding this perspective we not only loose these fears but also gain a larger perspective of our place in all things. Rather than possessing self love alone, love the world as yourself – essentially, love the other as yourself as we are just part of the whole.
Hope and fear of the same substance? Both deal with the uncertain. Neither are true reflections of what will happen but rather our assumptions, both good and bad, regarding the future of what will be next. This is to live outside of the world and live in the imagination. We cannot know what will happen next. We can only move forward and deal with the moments as they come. This is very difficult for humans, who think like animals. We have natural and conditioned responses to what happens around us. Unfortunately this can take over and we can lose site of the reality of the situation – which is what is HAPPENING RIGHT THIS MOMENT AND NOTHING MORE. Of course, the real reality of the situation is that the time we use to mark our existence is relative. It is more true that the reality of the situation is what we perceive happening right this moment and nothing more.
So can we still look forward while keeping our feet planted in the moment? I do not know. In our culture we are always preparing for the future. In all cultures you plan for a dry season or a time when the crops don’t grow. But is it possible to live in the moment while preparing for the future as separate considerations? What I have in this moment is to prepare food for tomorrow. I can only know this moment but I can be aware of tomorrow and the next day.
To make this effortless is to achieve the extremely difficult. But there must be joy in this behavior. To be fully present in the moment is to let ourselves be on one moment and put away our fears and hopes for the future. To hope is not realistic, but rather a manifestation of our emotional connection to a possible outcome. We can strive to this but for it to be real is only if we achieve. Otherwise we will live in disappointment – which is of the past.
For me right now I am hopeful of the future. I picture amazing situations in which wonderful things will happen. I do this, it seems, for a multitude of reasons. The first is my difficulty living in the moment. I am constantly pulled in many directions by my desires. I seem to continually wish I had a different job or more money, or greater opportunity. If I reused that time to propel my current circumstances I would perhaps be in a different place all together, or perhaps a different perspective.
The second is that I am a dreamer. But rather than dream of what I should do, I spend my time thinking of what it will be like. This is distracting and prone to failure. It will never be how I imagine it being like. To focus on these things makes me afraid of it not happening. I am going for the wrong reasons rather than intention. But if I work hard to move towards the right direction I can in fact make meaningful use of the time I have and let wonderful things happen rather than trying to control a universe of possibility – which is impossible if not completely exhausting to attempt.