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Doing Nothing—Be Nature

by Translated and Interpreted by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, October 29, 2018




For those who wish to take over the world and act upon it,
            I can see that they cannot succeed.
The world is a sacred vessel,
            it cannot be acted upon it and cannot be controlled.
            Those who act upon it will fail; and those who control it will lose.
all objects either lead or follow,
            either blow hot or blow cold,
            either strong or weak,
            either on it or off it.
sages eliminate excess, extravagance, and arrogance.

General Interpretation

This above is talking about applying wuwei (無為) (doing nothing) when ruling this world. That means a ruler should govern according to Nature. Too much of acting on the world (using force) will fail. He, Shang-Gong (河上公) said: "(If a ruler) wishes to be the master of the world and intends to act upon the people (i.e., to use force) for it, I can see clearly that he will not acquire the help from the Heaven Dao and the support from the people." In chapter 64 it is also said: "Whoever meddles, will fail; whoever persists will lose. Thus, sages do not meddle, thus they do not fail."

That is the reason those sages know how to maintain balance within themselves: neither too much of anything nor too little. They keep their mind simple, pure, calm, and peaceful without being allured by the outside world. They know if you are happy, eventually you will be sad. If you go up, you have to come down. The emotional life is like roller coasters going up, down, and around ceaselessly. Only if you are able to keep your mind neutral will you be undisturbed by these emotional disturbances. He, Shang-Gong (河上公) said: "Excess means being addicted to the joys of lust, sounds, and colors. Extravagance implies the luxuries of dressing and eating, and arrogance means the exaggeration of the residence and gardens."
Du, Guang-Ting (杜光庭) said:

"The way that those sages situated themselves in the world was to observe the trends of the up and down changes and see the opportunity of pushing and moving (i.e., actions). Then when they execute their actions, they will not be excessive. They know that whoever has been too excessive will have their situation reversed. Those who are in luxury will become greedy and those who exaggerate will become too prosperous. When things have reached their extremity, the course will surely be reversed. Those who become greedy will complain and those who are prosperous will become feeble. When there is just one of these excesses committed, failure or death is certain. Thus, they get rid of these."

The Chinese have a saying: "Greediness is a bottomless hole." This implies that the more you desire something, the more you want it, without ceasing.

Qigong Interpretation

This above is talking about regulating the mind (tiao xin, 調心). When you practice qigong, your mind must be in a neutral and calm state. If your mind is disturbed by the continuous ups and downs of the emotions, you will not be able to develop the truthful feeling of the subconscious mind. Most emotional turmoil comes from false feeling and desires. If you can be simple, pure, and neutral in your mind, you will have the correct feeling and judgment for your practice.

As we have noted, water is neutral, but from it various drinks can be made. Thus, water is the most universal drink you can ever find. The most powerful sound is the one without sound. When there is no sound, then you can create all kinds of sounds. Though you keep your mind in a neutral state, you must also be flexible. Otherwise, your mind will become too stubborn. When this happens, your mind will be narrowed and closed. This is not the way of learning. In order to learn, you must be humble, open minded, and flexible. Confucius (孔子) (《論語.子罕》) said: "Do not be prejudiced, do not be expectant, do not be stubborn, and do not be selfish."What this sentence means is that you should have an open mind to accept other people's opinions and advice. You should not expect the result that may not necessarily happen. You should not stubbornly persist in your prejudice. And you should not be selfish and concerned only for yourself. These are a few of the important mental cultivations you need in order to reach a proficient level of qigong learning and practice.


The mind is the general or the king who is governing and in charge of the entire body's qi. As a general, you must keep your mind calm and neutral. You should be opened minded and not stubborn in your thinking. Those who have reached a high level of qigong practice did so because they were able to jump out of the human matrix so that their mind is free to accept, to change, to listen, and to develop. It is the same for your practice. If you cannot be humble and open minded, then your learning and practice will be limited.

The above is an excerpt from Dao De Jing—A Qigong Interpretation Lao Tzu, Translation and Commentary by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming


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