Seventh Taoist Contemplation: Nature as Echo in a Cave

It appears, when we read Lao-Tse’s description of the nature of things, that in his naturalist doctrine the vacuous nature of Tao is such that, in life, we get what we put in. This feedback loop is almost described in mystical terms. The universe mirrors our projected reality of it. Just like Nietzsche posited, our narrative is power, creation, and nature really does mirror what we put out as our creation.

What this means, if accepted as truth, is that angry people really do attract anger and resentment and conflict; peaceful people really do attract serenity; happy people really do attract and increase joy, and sad people do attract sorry situations. It remains to each one of us to study and observe nature to see if, and to what extent, this is how nature operates, if it really is like the void that the Tao says it is which not only serves as context, but also echoes back, as if we were in a cave; if it’s true that we can hear the resonance, that we co-create reality in much more subtle ways than we previously thought possible.

Thus those who follow the Tao are with the Tao
Those who follow virtue are with virtue
Those who follow loss are with loss
Those who are with the Tao, the Tao is also pleased to have them
Those who are with virtue, virtue is also pleased to have them
Those who are with loss, loss is also please to have them
Those who do not trust sufficiently, others have no trust in them

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 23

If this is the case, then it is important to have a healthy relationship with reality (Lao-Tse, in fact, reminds us of this from time to time), and this accentuates the importance of gratitude, satisfaction and mindfulness of the good things.

In practical terms, Lao-Tse elaborates this by explaining that moral authority is protective (chapter 55) and that unattached action affects others. This is a view that Confucius assumed also. We can influence others and affect their behavior with our own, by our own example. We are all role models in our world. People will treat us how we treat them, and how we let them treat us.

In the realm of government, Lao-Tse argued that the distrust of the part of government trickles down to the people and makes the people distrust authority as a result. In the realm of human relations, Lao-Tse argued that when we engage in violence, we teach our enemies and subjects to also engage in violence, perpetuating it in the world.

When people no longer fear force
They bring about greater force

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 72

Online Versions of the Tao Te Ching:

DC Lau’s Translation

S Mitchell translation

About hiramcrespo

Hiram Crespo is the author of 'Tending the Epicurean Garden' (Humanist Press, 2014) and 'How to Live a Good Life' (Penguin Random House, 2020), and founder of He's also written for The Humanist, Eidolon, Occupy, The New Humanism, The Secular Web, Europa Laica, AteístasPR, and many other outlets.
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1 Response to Seventh Taoist Contemplation: Nature as Echo in a Cave

  1. Pingback: Contemplations on the Tao Series | Epicurean Database

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