“Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 37” by Lao Tzu

Tao never makes any ado,
And yet it does everything.
If a ruler can cling to it,
All things will grow of themselves.
When they have grown and tend to make a stir,
It is time to keep them in their place by the aid of the nameless Primal Simplicity,
Which alone can curb the desires of men.
When the desires of men are curbed, there will be peace,
And the world will settle down of its own accord.

Wow! When I read this passage this morning, I was struck by how pertinent it is to our current paradigm. Our reality is dominated by complexity, the antithesis of simplicity. This global complexity only serves to fuel desire: desire for more wealth, desire for newest technology, even, ironically, the desire for simplicity.

How can we escape this situation and return to Primal Simplicity? I don’t think there is a simple answer. Complex problems require complex solutions. For myself, I have been meditating regularly, trying to live consciously and scale back, and minimizing my exposure to news hype and social media. Another thing I have been attempting to incorporate into my life is something I heard Anderson Cooper talking about on the 10% Happier podcast. Cooper said he has stopped multitasking and instead practices “monotasking.” It was so counterintuitive to the dominant thought of most people, myself included at the time, that it struck me as the obvious slapping me in the face. We think that multitasking will help us manage our time more efficiently, but it doesn’t. It only adds to the complexity that is overwhelming our society and our selves. We can all stand to simplify.

I am getting ready to go out for breakfast with my family. I will not look at my smartphone during that time. I will simply sit, eat, and share time with the people I love.

Thanks for stopping by, and please feel free to share any suggestions you have on how to move closer to simplicity.


Filed under Literature, Spiritual

12 responses to ““Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 37” by Lao Tzu

  1. Although I am forced to multitask at certain parts of my day (being a mom, working, etc.) I am much more efficient and happier when I am doing just one thing. I also think you are right about limiting your exposure to news and media. I have stopped watching tv news and have drastically scaled back on online news because it only makes me unhappy. And as a parent of teenagers positioning themselves for college and beyond, there’s the belief that the more activities you do, the better you look, but that’s all wrong. Organized sports is a great example of how out of control the belief that overextending yourself is the only way to stay in front. Okay, end of rant! Happy Sunday, Jeff!

    • LOL – Barb, that was not a rant, it was a passionate response, and much appreciated. As a father, dog owner, and someone who has a full-time job (among my other interests), I too sometimes have to juggle getting dinner started, feeding pets, and such. But I am trying to minimize those times. And your points on college are right on. I have one child in her senior year of college and another starting to look at colleges. It has become so competitive, when really it should be collaborative. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and as always, thanks for your thoughtful comments!!

  2. Yes, those last lines say it all: When the desires of men are curbed, there will be peace, And the world will settle down of its own accord.

    I too am trying to limit the amount of time I spend watching the daytime reality Trump show, which is what cable news has devolved into. And I’m trying to get more focused and disciplined about my “art,” my writing, my painting, my music. But the simplicity part I think comes in being in the moment, as you put so well at the end of your post. Sitting, being, loving.

  3. Very timely, Jeff. Thank you! Monotasking appeals to me a lot.

  4. Monotasking. I love it. We now need a word for doing one thing at a time. I tried to teach my college students this for years, tried to convince them that we get more done when do one thing at a time, do it better, and feel better, but most of them didn’t believe me, despite the science behind it.

    • IT’s hard to convince people about concepts that are antithetical to the current paradigm. But your role as an educator is to try. Hope you are doing well, and thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  5. Mono-tasking seems to fit with the simplifying (and not rushing everything) … otherwise called attentiveness or mindfulness (or just paying attention to what we’re doing!). I had a mentor, back in the ‘dot com boom’ days, who made a point even then of turning his phone off when he was in a meeting or at a meal with someone during the workday so he could focus completely on that conversation or interaction. What a great example! I enjoyed this as always, Jeff.

    • Hi Jamie! Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for sharing the example of how your mentor stayed present. An example that would serve us all well to follow. Cheers!

  6. Excellent post… and I like the idea of returning to the Primal Simplicity… The fact that you provided Anderson Cooper´s example (monotasking) made it crystal clear. Yes, too much information… technology makes it worse,… It is hard to find oneself in a perfect place of unique peace. But we can still try!. Love & best wishes, dear Jeff 🙂 ❤

    • Hi Aquileana! Glad you enjoyed the post. And yes, it is important that we all try to find that place of inner peace. Hugs and warm wishes — Jeff