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Bonus Ep 2–Fundamental Taoist Action

Taoist Master Mikel Steenrod does a broad ranging talk about harmony, Te (power of the Tao), and not doing. This is Bonus Episode 2 of Living The Tao.
Fundamental Taoist Action: Bonus Episode 002
byMikel Steenrod

As a thank you for our continued rapid growth, we at LTT are providing this bonus ep.  Please keep talking about LTT to others!

In this episode, Taoist Master Mikel Steenrod describes the true meaning of Not Doing and asks what would you do if you had no goal.

–Welcome to Living the Tao, a Spiritual Podcast that explores how ancient wisdom, a practical perspective, and deep truth can empower you to live your best life. If you enjoyed this episode, we'd appreciate your review on apple or spotify.

Taoist Topics Covered:

  • Before and Now Influence

  • Think in New Ways

  • Not Doing or Wei Wu Wei

  • Physical Impact of Spiritual Enlightenment

  • Mystical Harmony

  • Te–Power of Not Doing

  • Tao and Magic

  •  How to Succeed and Fail

Transcription of Taoist Podcast, "Living The Tao," Bonus Episode 2

Bonus Episode Two:

Fundamental Taoist Action.

Welcome to Living the Tao,

a spiritual podcast that explores

how ancient wisdom, a practical
perspective and deep truth, can empower

you to live your best life.

In this episode,

Taoist Master Mikel Steenrod
describes the true meaning

of not doing, and asks, what would you
do if you had no goal?

So if we deal with not doing, that’s a
good one to work with because it’s

fundamental in a lot of Taoist

And the reason its fundamental in
Taoist conversation is that there are basically

two different divisions in practice
when it comes to not doing.

Not doing should be an automatic pr…
practice, meaning that you don’t have

to make any effort to not do

things as you go along.

It’s an outgrowth, actually, of
meditative practice and of

mind training.

So you’ll automatically start to do
that simply as you start to meditate

in consistently large chunks.

To do it intellectually, where you have
to simulate it because, well…

“So I need to apply

Not doing here,” could certainly be done.
It’s just vastly more effort.

And the breakdown of it is to
ultimately try to

have the action be a natural outgrowth

of what you are


without meditation, that can be
accomplished just by calm.

It’s basically two different divisions.

As I said.

One of these divisions is the mystical

This is the one that’s actually
referred to by

…in text.

And the other one is what most people
regard as the practical


which is, “how do we set about to use

in daily living?”

The true one, interestingly enough, is
the mystical division.

The practical

division has usefulness in it, in

and also in guiding one to do

a really fundamental Taoist act,

which is to listen.

If you put it in simple terms, it’s a
matter of

listen before you act.

It is not a matter of take no action,
and that it Falls

into, what’s

probably the most common element of not
doing, or (rather the) common misinterpretation of

not doing.

And acceptance,

as we were talking about at the second
tier of practice,

the big problem that most people have
with acceptance is that they view it as

a matter of not doing anything,

having nothing to do with wei wu wei.

Or the doing of not doing it’s just a
matter of, well, how do I accept this?

“Well, I accept it by being completely

Well, no acceptance is a formal action
that is built into humans.

You have the ability to accept things,
because if you don’t, from an

evolutionary standpoint, you die.

Because acceptance permits change.

Now, listening

allows you to see things

as they emerge,

so that when you do take action, it is
the best and natural action as an

outgrowth from that situation.


if we sit back and we look at it well,
how does this theoretically work? Wouldn’t

a human behave like this, or behave
like that?

The truth is that when we sit back to
do practical, we make our practical


We make certain assumptions about human

And that is that humans are rational,

and that humans are capable of making

that are independent of their mental
state, or of the position that they’re

currently occupying

developmentally–from a spiritual
development standpoint.

And that’s not true.

You always make–the coloring of events

that occurs is always based on the
events that have come before

and the mood that you’re in.

So if you’ve had a happy series of

and you’re in a great mood, so you can
have a happy series of events and still

be in a bad mood.

I’m sure everybody’s had that instance.

But if you have those two aligned

and then a third.

A third event occurs, and this event is

What happens?

Your interpretation is, “Well,

that’s just the way things are, or I
can overcome it, or this is just one of

many other events.”

So the way you interpret that event is
dramatically different, based upon what

has come before. It’s colored by it.


the other factor of that as well, if
you’ve had a bad string of events,

or you’ve had, you’re in a very
negative mood when something

challenging comes along, not even bad.

What is your interpretation?

Oh, this is the end of the world.

I cannot possibly manage this event

that’s coming into my life.

All things must end.

So we have those elements that are in

When we get caught up in the chain
between what has come before and what

is currently coming now…

The before

always colors the now.

There is no way around that.

So this event shapes this event, or the
interpretation of it.

The fact is that many times

the now will be strongly related,

or the before will be a cause of the

But that’s not always true, because now
events can occur for factors outside of

you. Since the universe is not built
for you and not driven by the desire to

move you into a particular position,

there is not necessarily a causative
relationship between before and now–as

those before events could have been for
entirely different people than you.

The only way they can be entirely for
you is that you’re the most important

thing in the universe,

which, if you are, give me a shout
later on, and I’ve got some stuff I

need done.


before and now are not necessarily

When we introduce not doing in, in
many ways, what we are doing is interrupting

the automatic chain between before and

So the response that tells us we must
do this absolutely

right now, or we must think in this
way, or that we must feel in this way,

is not necessarily

the best thing to do.

And the function of not doing is to try
and intrude

in the automatic chain between those
two events.

And in fact,

when you go to studying at the third
level, the mind of clarity,

the intention of mind of clarity, is to
enforce a break between before and now.

So that you have a moment of


a moment where

nothing is occurring.

And so you can treat the event

that is unfolding as the event that’s

You’re not ignorant of what came before.

You are simply not bound into the

of what came before.

And so you can think something new.

And that whole concept of thinking
something new is important

both for managing the big three,
managing relationships, managing your resources,

managing personal development.

And it’s also important for

Because, you’re not going to come up
with a new solution or a new thought to


if you are in fact thinking and doing
everything that you have always done.

Old behaviors do not produce new


percent of the time,

I think it is.

The other 0.43?

The environment will periodically
change while you’re executing old


and as a result,

you will do something new.

But that really had nothing to do with
you. That had to do with everything

changed around you when you are doing
something old.


that occurs straight out.

So if you want to introduce difference
into your management of relationships, resources,


your personal development,

you have to be willing to engage those
things that allow you to think or

behave in different ways.

Because, there really is no magic source
of thought.

And we talk about enlightenment, and
many times enlightenment is

cast into a magical vein,

because what you happen to have an
insight about, can be unpredictable.

It is not always unpredictable.

I can tell you in later experience,
that if you’re hunting a big insight,

you know generally what it’s going to
be about, and you know how dramatic

it’s going to be.

And that’s important, because you learn
to pace yourself.

And instead of just randomly running
into every possible spiritual insight,

you can, you go,

“This one’s a biggie.

I’m going to go get a burger

and not do it.”

And that becomes very important,
because you start becoming not attached

to the process of insight itself.

And you start managing it.

Because those of you that undergo

degrees of insight as you pass through
are going to find out something very


Your body changes

and your personality changes.

Because insight does not occur in an
independent little jar.

Insight is a product of who you are as
a thing within the universe.

And so it is that overall


that experiences and creates the insight

as you go along.


we’ve talked about this, the key for
moving the concept of ness–what

constitutes you. What you recognize as
being yourself around.

The reason that you do that is so that
from a spiritual standpoint, you have

the opportunity for enlightenment.

Because unless you are realistically at
a position where you can have the

thoughts that lead to enlightenment
right now, you’re not going to be

enlightened right now.

Your objective is to move yourself into
a place where those behaviors allow you

to do that.

Now, if you have a non-

enlightenment goal, the same rules
apply, because it’s the same human


So if you want to

make a million dollars next month,
you’re going to have to come up with

the behaviors that allow you to make a
million dollars next month.

And very clearly,

people that are capable of generating

huge wealth have a set of behaviors,
which are wealth behaviors.

So if you strip them of all their
revenue, they will, in fact, generate revenue.

And a lot of other people look at that
and go, oh, that’s magic.

Well, no, it’s a behavioral set.

And the same thing applies.

You have people that are extremely
successful at the relationships that

they form, or are capable of forming
broad networks of people, if that’s

their goal.

But you take that same person, you dump
them into an entirely new environment

where they don’t know anybody you guess

They’re going to have the same exact
thing inside of about ninety days.

And that’s because whatever behavior
set that you have creates the same things.

If you want different things, then you
have to adjust the behavior set.

Because there really isn’t…

I mean, there’s always going to be,
somebody that’s going to win the

lottery for spirituality

or relationships,

or revenue,

or any other resource you want to look

But you can’t count on it.

You can’t sit back and go,

“My best guess at this is, I’m just
going to play this ticket and you hand

it on it.”

Somebody somewhere will win it.

If you’re that person, again, see me at
the end of class.

If you’re not that person, then you
have to do the work.

And unfortunately, while I personally
have won a lottery now and then,

with regards to some of the things that
I practice,

I have been completely unfortunate in
every other aspect, in that I only have

exactly what I have created.

Nothing else.

Almost to an extent, that’s ludicrous
at times.


my teacher had various comments about
that, too.

And his initial comment was, well,
you’ve just been extremely lucky about

these things.

Wait until it turns.

He was right.

When it turned, it became a matter of
like, “Oh, now I just have to be good.”

And that became a whole different thing.

So not doing creates that interruption
between before and now.

And that gives you the opportunity to
act in ways that you haven’t acted


It also allows you to do something

The vast majority of situations that
we’re in are not so difficult that they

cannot be solved


They are also not so difficult, for
example, in conflict, which is where

not doing is oftentimes applied in a
martial perspective.


There…most opponents are not so great

that if you aren’t able to, ok, how do
I word this…

Very few opponents are so great that
the opposition actually comes from the opponent.

Almost always, when somebody presents
you with opposition, it is your

internal opposition that will stop you.

It is not going to be the opposition of
your opponent.

Very few people are so good that no
matter what you do, you’re going to lose.

Very few.

Because that means that that person has
to achieve a degree of self mastery

where they are not stopping themselves.

If you gain the ability to listen and
not do, you will see vulnerability

where no one else sees it. Where they
don’t see it.

And it will not be a strain of your
brain to sit back and go, oh,

where’s the uh. uh. uh.

It is automatic.

You recognize the opportunity as you go

So even in situations where you are
physically inferior, if we want to

take–oftentimes I use combat analogies
because combat’s easier to understand

than spiritual development.

In reality,

the stakes are straightforward, the
exchange is straightforward.

And so it’s a very easy environment

to sit back and look at things.

Compared to spiritual development,
which is usually a big, muddy field of,

“Well, how did this work?

Or what choice went into this?”

There’s few things greater in
simplicity than a good swift punch in

the head to tell you that,

“Yeah, I guess that didn’t work.”


whereas the same punch in the head from
the universe,

you can sit back and go, I guess if it
don’t work.

But usually there’s all sorts of
garbage that comes along with something

not working when it comes from the

So when we sit back, that opportunity
to move

becomes larger and larger.

And the reason that that is,

is, without the attachment between
before and now

what you’re seeing is not colored by
the huge baggage of before.

So you’re not sitting there going,
“Well, you know, there’s this and this

and this, and then I have to worry
about this, and what’s happening over

here, and

all those other things.”


you just discard it,

and you simply allow events to unfold.

And when it is time to act, you act.

You act automatically.

If you miss your time of action, you’ll
see that too, because you’re human,

And, humans miss opportunity all the

But again, most situations are not so
demanding that you can’t afford to miss.

It is very rare that you will face an
opponent or a situation that does not

have more than one opportunity,

that does not give you the ability to
do one thing…

more than one thing.

That really, in some ways, I’ve talked
about adept practice, or what marks an

adapt, or an extremely high level
practitioner of the old Taoist arts.

And one of the things is that they can
respond in situations where there are

only just a couple opportunities,

maybe only one opportunity,

and where if you do anything else, or
anything out of sequence, or anything

out of time, everything collapses.

It’s extremely rare that the necessity
of that ever exists.

If you are living within the world and
doing mortal things, such things…such

control, is for the most part,
completely unnecessary.

If you do develop such an ability,

if you do develop the ability to
finely read the direction of events,

then things will start to become simple.

And usually when a risky thing is going
to occur to you, you see it a long way off.

To other people,

that’s going to be a matter of some
sort of magic skill, but it’s not a

magic skill.

You just saw it coming a long way off.

And the reason? You weren’t bound into
the small events.

if you sit back and look at the big
failures of your life, no matter what

they happen to be: whether they’re
based on resource, whether they’re

based on relationships, whether they’re
based on ah, the failure of your

ability to pursue spiritual
development, you knew the event was

coming long before the event was coming.

Did you have a magic power that told
you that?

No, you had many things that were
getting in the way keeping you from

seeing that event coming.


why does that exist?

Well, part of it can be,

it can be tough to stare into a
locomotive coming down the track,

knowing that your opportunity to move
is only going to be in the last thirty


You have nothing else that you can
possibly do to change the course.

All you have is a little interval.

And you have to wait for it.

You have to sit there.

You have to drink your cup of tea. Eat
a cheese sandwich. Pet a dog.

And then, at the very last minute, move
when it is time to move.

And so our inability to see may be
consciously trained.

Do I know that for sure?


But I’ve seen many, many people run
exactly from what they knew while it

was coming,

without any problem at all.

And that running behavior, even though
it will absolutely create failure,

creates comfort.

And for example, one of the big things
that people have to learn

and match exchanges in Kung fu,
especially the teens, is not to run,

like not to run away, because as soon
as you do, the train’s in control.

Now it’s just going to roll you over.

So it’s just a matter before they pin
the coroner.

And they start beating you relentlessly,

which is a lesson that I point out on a
semiregular, basis by pinning somebody

in the corner and beating them
relentlessly after they’ve turned and run.

And the necessity of that is because
it’s a life lesson.

The…ignoring the problem, or failing to use
the vision that you have, is a guarantee–

almost certain guarantee–of failure.

But again, most situations are not a
locomotive on a train track.

It’s kind of a locomotive.

That’s moving around over there,

it’s headed in your general direction,
and you’re going, there’s a good

probability that it’s going to be over
here at some point.

In a lot of times,

for most of our problems, the
locomotive actually send you little

telegram, says, “Hey, we’re going to
be using that track.

If you want to get off

some time,

you can do that.”

And then you have to actually go, I
have to get off.

But that would require you to do
something different.

And that’s always the thing, that’s
probably the underlying stopping point

for that.


The reason that not doing is a natural
outgrowth of meditation, isn’t because

of the absolute requirement of
meditation, is because meditation

interrupts the link between before and

most easily.

Other things can do it.

So a lot of times, the advice that I
give, or the practices that I repeat,

are about taking the easiest possible
pathway to get to success.

It’s not that it can’t be done some
other way, it’s that, you know, you’re

doing a triple back flip

and like

spitting a mouthful of water into a
shot glass fifty feet away

and riding a pelican with one foot.

And when the assignment was

“put book on chair.”

Well, yeah, see, to put the book on
chair, you lift up the book

and you put it on the chair.

I’m generally not going to give the
pelican riding instructions to people,

“Or you could do it this way, ride a pelican backwards, blowing a

genetically engineer a dragon.

Now, fight dragon.”

Most of those efforts become largely

So from

that’s the underlying

reason of what not doing is. From a
practical standpoint, most people look

at not doing as an element of strategy.

Basically, not learning to not take
action or not expend resources,

and then taking action

to the extent that it’s necessary, but
that automatically occurs.

Now, if you do it intellectually, it
can certainly be done intellectually.

And I do it intellectually all the time.


that’s only a very small portion of
what not doing refers to.

The other thing is that if you achieve
a degree of

interaction or balance with the Tao
itself–if you manage to step outside

of the karmic nursery and interact with
the Tao–problems will magically solve themselves.

You will have to do absolutely nothing.

Your action, when faced with a great

is simply to meditate.

And the things that occur will be a
direct result of the amount of karma

that you have accumulated

and the degree to which

you have blended yourself with the

When those two things are there, many
problems simply resolve themselves.

You’ll sit back and go, I can’t
possibly see how this is going to

handle itself.

My solution is to meditate.

And so you meditate, and then you come
back out, and suddenly magic news has

been delivered to you.

You know that thing?

It’s just done.

And that’s exactly how it works.

Things are magically accomplished.

And I use magic as a term to

account for

what’s actually a huge block of theory
that we could spend quite a bit of time

talking about.

But action and coordination with the
Tao itself allows you to exist with

greater ease within your life.

It will not remove difficulty


It will remove many difficulties.

And the reason for that is that a Tao
does not care whether your life is

difficult or easy.

So you might as well make your life

It is a conscious series of choices
that lead to life being difficult.

It is a conscious series of choices
that might lead to life being easy.

The great mistake,

probably in monkly interpretation of
not doing, when it comes to the

mystical elements, is that they assume


well, all difficulty will be removed

The problem with that is that they have
placed themselves in the position of

being the most important thing within
the universe.

You’re not.

And that’s always something to keep in
mind. Always, as you sit back, always

…you do.

whatever practice comes along, the
universe, in fact, does not care.

And that can be a harsh thought to

Now it’s not against you either.

And that’s the other thing to keep in

And it’s just as easy for everything to
be easy as it is to be hard.

It does not care.

That’s what not caring means.

It is completely equal in its treatment.

And now, if something else comes along,
like there’s a snail, that, for some

reason in the course of events, must


across a path, and you’re walking on
that path, unless you have huge karma,

And the only way to stop you is to have
you drop dead from a heart attack…

Guess what?

You’re going to drop dead from a heart
attack, or a meteor is going to fall

out of the sky and crush you.

Or a tiger is going to escape from a
zoo three hours ago, leap out at that

time and drag you off the path and eat
you, because you are not the most

important thing.

The snail can be just as easily

It can also live a life of complete

Or it can live a life of struggle.

It has to choose it from its snailness
as to what course is going to come about.

So in part, the way we live

our life, within the balance of things
is a matter of, well, if you create

acceptance for yourself, or you create
the not doing,

you start eliminating

artificial expectation.

Like, “I need to be this way.

I need to do this thing over here.

I need to have this thing done there.”

And there’s a basic,

there’s a basic Taoist question.

And you can ask this of yourselves,
too, since you’re looking at the


And that is, what would I do if I had
no goal?

If I completely eliminated every goal I
had, what would I do? If this were not a

stated goal,

what would I undertake at this time?

Are you capable of action in that time?

And the truth is, you are capable of
action in that time it’s just not going

to be the type of action you would do
at any other time.

And so when you eliminate that series
of goals

that bind you–some of which are good,
some of which are horrible.

And I’m not suggesting you should be

I’m suggesting that you should explore
the strength or the insight that comes

from not having a goal.

And the reason that this becomes a
necessity is that the goal set that you

have came from the social mind.

There’s no way around it.

It was developed out of social mind

It was developed to achieve social mind

And so the only way to stop it is to
just not have it.

And so if you abandon that goal set for
a period of time,

you start to see

new possibilities.

You also start to sit back, and as
you’re doing you’re not doing–

and this truly is the realm of not


you begin to realize that, well,

in some ways, I kind of have to
negotiate my way down the path, because

I may encounter supersnail,

and supersnail might want something.

And so now I must bargain with
supersnail as we come along,

that bargain can be very quick.

It can be very easy.

It also means that in the whole process
of bargaining

what is there, there is the thought of,
if you don’t stand for yourself, nobody

else will stand for you.

The bargain will go against you. Not
because the thing is inherently

out to get you, but because you didn’t
defend your position.

And so many times the monkly error

is a matter of, “Well, we’ll be
completely cared for,

everything will go in my favor.”
Like you need to examine the rules of

the universe here, just for a moment.

It will not…

it will oftentimes go in your favor
simply because you have achieved harmony.

And because of that harmony, the not
doing will oftentimes favor you.

Because, most of what we do is in a wide
open field.

It doesn’t matter where you go.

But now and then it really, really

And if you see something, as it unfolds,

that it really, really matters, and you
learn, at the very least, not get in

this way,

you will avoid a great deal of

Usually the thing that moves you against

the balance of things

is the goal set that came from the
social mind.


those goals, in reality, don’t have
anything to do with you or with

anything that would benefit you.

They were given to you

and you followed them.

They benefit something else.

Whatever that happens to be, I don’t

But they obviously are designed for
some other purpose than your personal

happiness, your insight,

or your resources.

So why do you follow em?

And if you

continue to follow them?

So if we pursue this pathway, it places
you directly against many times the

balance that is supposed to be there.

And that’s ok from the social mind,
perspective, because something has to

be destroyed.

It doesn’t matter if it’s you.

It doesn’t matter to the goal set.

Anything can be destroyed.

Nothing is so important that it cannot
be removed.

I…that becomes a significant area
of challenge.

Now, as you start to abandon that goal,
it is really interesting, or it’s really

easy, to simply

live in a way where you go completely
with the flow of things.

But remember, the flow can lead over a

It can lead you across crushing rocks.

It can lead you anywhere.

Then the flow is created by a lot of
other things than you.

And you have to be careful to preserve
yourself in that process, if you want to

remain alive.

Now sometimes the flow of things can be
so addictive

that you just want to dwell there all
the time, because you really are truly.

During that time,

you achieve complete, not doing.

You are in harmony with the flow of the

But remember, you are not the most
important thing in the universe.

There could be a huge fish,

I’m making something up–with big teeth

at the end of the flow.

And the flow is, in fact, for the fish,

and it’s just going to eat you

as you flow up into its mouth.

It will close it.

You will digest yourself for its good,

and then you’ll be done.

And that can be very easily turned

against you, because, again, not the most
important thing.


And so we have to watch.

We have to examine the flow, because of
all the creatures, we have the ability,

most, to make the manipulation of that
flow as we need to.

So, do you swim up the river?

Well, no.

Swimming up the river is largely going
to be a waste of time

and the flow is vastly stronger than
you do.

You take a few strokes in this
direction or in that direction to move

out of the way of things?


every once in a while, do you
absolutely insist that you go in a

certain direction for a short period of

Yes, if you have achieved enough
swimming skill, you can do that.

You can make an absolute insistence

that this thing be done.

And the reason you can do that

is it’s ok to do that.

There is no rule that prevents you from
insisting on something.

Now what can prevent you is something
else insisting that it not be that way.

Then it’s a contest of karma.

And so,

but again, we’re looking at

times of radical turning,

times where

the events are very, very sharp, and
you’re sitting back going, what do I do


But the fact is that if religion, or
any spiritual system, only works when

things are good,

you might want to sign up for another
religious system.

Because things are not always going to
be good.

Things are going to create challenge.

Things are going to sit back and you’re
going to go,

what just happened?

Now, why did suddenly everything turn

Or why did suddenly everything do this?

Usually, what you’re going to find out
is, again, you did get the note from

the train.

You’ve got to follow up notice.

You got a phone call.

It flashed you in

semaphore. Said, “Hey, hey, why don’t you
try to move

now? Hey.”

You got tons of warnings,

but if you were strongly connected

in the relationship between before and

you could have ignored all those

You didn’t bother to look at the mail.
You didn’t answer your phone. You

turned away when it was flashing
semaphore. When it was shouting you (yawns sleepily).

So you completely ignored every sign
and symptom that was coming down


Now, occasionally we’ll just get hit by
a meteor from the sky.

But again, that’s the rarity of it.

For the most part, you will not
encounter situations that are so

difficult there is no way out, or that
are so difficult

you cannot respond, or that are so
difficult you cannot afford to make an error.

But you will encounter them–


and then.

The important part of that is to sit
back and go–

You should know

when the stakes are so tight

that you could easily fail.

And that’s important to know, in part
because it keeps you from getting

caught up in the failure.

And it’s easy to sit back and simply
say that, well, you know, if this

occurs, I’m not going to get caught up
in it.

But the truth is, unless you’ve
prepared for it, and it’s something

that you’ve significantly cared about
or pursued,

when the failure comes, even if you are
sitting back going, “Well, there’s a

likelihood of failure of label blah blah blah.”

It can be difficult to overcome or to

On the other hand, if you have complete
knowledge of exactly how difficult it

is: “I have a one and 100000

chance of flipping this match through
this air, having it ride on a penny,

and then do a back flip over a cricket
into the shot glass.”

When you fail at

it, it’s not so bad.

You knew how tough it was when you were
going in.

But if you didn’t know how tough it was
going in, and you had the thought of,

“Well, anybody should be able to do this!”

Well, in all likelihood, nobody can do

You’re just setting out to do something

You’d do everything exactly correct.

And you have a huge amount of karma.

You can pull off completely impossible

Or people just said back, and

and go, “How was that


Don’t ask me to do it again,

because I don’t think I can.

So the mystical balance of not doing is
that the harmony itself

allows the Tao to take care of many
problems before they emerge.

And sometimes the other element of it
is, and this actually applies to last

month’s lecture on the I Ching responses,

a lot of times

we have the thought


success is going to be like this.

So if we have a big ruler,

success is a nice straight line

from zero to one

as we go along.

The truth is,

if anything that you’re pursuing is
even remotely complex,

or even remotely distant,

the pathway to get there: it’s going to
be like this (random line).

And oftentimes,

if there’s a really strong attachment
between before and now, if you have a

really strong attachment to the goal,
whenever there is even a small shift

off this straight line, even though
this straight line can never exist

for this particular situation.

Let’s call this situation random


So it turns out that you want to drive
over the mountain. Your thought is that I’m just going to

drive straight over the mountain.

There’s no road there, but I’m going to
drive over the mountain.

And it turns out the only way to get
there is to follow this road here (squiggle line).

You’re vastly disappointed because you
really wanted to drive over the

mountain this way, despite

this actually being the pathway there.

If you’re really strongly bound into
each step

of how you think something is going to
occur, then you create disappointment

for yourself.

And you also create failure, because as
soon as you start veering off,

it veers off a little bit and you go,
“Oh, I’m failing

now, I need to stop.”

The truth…

How many things have been accomplished
that are difficult, that were a

perfect straight line and did not

any sort of difficulty between the
origin and the goal?


The only time that you accomplish that
is when what you’re doing is really

very simple.


If I get up and I walk from this board
to the chair, I have a relatively

straight pathway.

If I start walking to the chair, and
suddenly the chair starts to move,

this is an unusual situation>

One that I might want to sit back and


or if I start walking towards the
chair, but the distance doesn’t

actually close.

Or if I end up over here,

and I try to walk towards it again, and
I end up over here.

These are all indicators of a highly

process. Someplace where I can sit back
and just expect

that, yes, I could move my butt to the

There shouldn’t be a great deal of
difficulty in doing this.

Now, if I want to sit over there in a
chair, and I set out to sit there,

there is in fact, no chair there.

A whole series of processes have to go
into putting a chair in that spot, or

creating this chair from various,
various chair elements

that allow the chair to be there.

That’s going to be a much more
difficult journey.

Other factors can intrude.

Somebody else could want that chair
before I got there and take it.

Somebody else could move the chair to
another spot because they had another


Whatever it happened to be, there are
all sorts of things that can occur just

because of the separation,

the distance

between your origin point and your end
point. The I Ching


those interactions.

What is the difference?

What is the space actually going to be

How should you respond to that space
between one and the other?

The big thing you shouldn’t do is be so
bound into your path that you’re going

to sip back and say, this is going to
be a simple little ride.

It had better be a simple little ride.

And by that, I mean it should be some
simple, like, I’m going to take this

forkful of food from the plate and put
it in my mouth.

Even then that periodically fails.

Something will intervene in the course
of events and keep that from occurring.

Does that happen most of the time?

No, most of the time

the solution is straightforward.

Now if your thought is, well, three
months from now, I’m going to host a

large dinner party. We’re going to feast on
whale stakes.

I’d better order up some whale steaks
to be delivered on that day.

All sorts of things can occur between
that time and the whale steak dinner

that will prevent it from occurring.

Primarily being

the smuggling of whale steaks.

All sorts of things can interfere.

And so before you create a

expectation for goal, you have to sit
back and analyze, or really think about

how difficult is this goal going to be?

If the goal starts being difficult,

you need to

pull yourself back to a certain extent
and go, well, what’s in fact going on here.

So if my chair starts to magically get
farther away from me as I’m moving from

here to there, my response is,
basically, do I actually want to sit in

that chair?


what’s occurring that’s causing this
chair to move away?

And so I will begin examining the
course of events.

I will move away from my goal of
chairsitting for a period of time

because obviously something has

And I need to sit back and take in what
has occurred.

I need to listen to the course of

I need to watch them unfold.

And perhaps I need to test them out to
see what’s going to happen.

We can do the same thing in any of our
major human concerns.

We can do it within resources.

We can do it within relationships,

and we can do it within personal

You can simply sit back and go, well,

this should have been simple.

Why is this suddenly occurring here and
here and here?

Is it

because this is always the nature of
such a pathway?

Nothing can ever be done about it.

And it could be that.

It could be that the road around the
mountain is always twisty.

You could perhaps make it straight.

But is it worth the effort of making a
straight road over the mountain?

Or do you just want to take the twisty
road and make sure that you can get on

the other side?

If it’s the twisty road, then you need
to change your thinking so that you can

embrace twisty road qualities and
follow it

along. It’s like, now I’m looping back.

I’m getting farther away.

Well, that’s because the road goes back
farther away and then comes around this

way and then goes over here and moves

So you can sit back.

You can always create the expectation
that the line should be straight,

but the line may or may not be straight.

And the farther you are from your goal,
the less likely that line is straight,

and the more challenges you’re going to
face as you come along.


Thank you.


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