Saturday, August 1, 2020

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 73

Courage to dare leads to death
Courage to not dare leads to life

Both daring and not daring are linked to courage in this couplet. So the distinction is not about having courage, but rather how that courage is directed. In a western culture that values daring and boldness, this sounds like a play-it-safe admonition. However, I think daring in this context is probably closer to the idea of interfering, or forcing one’s will on people or circumstances. In other words, daring that goes against the natural energy and wisdom of the universe. 

Such daring is always rooted at some level in fear. Because it is in opposition to our true nature, which would always be in alignment with universal power, it drains us of energy and leads ultimately to death, that is, disconnection from our innate life force. 

Courage to not dare (to not presume or interfere), on the other hand, transcends fear and allows the power of the divine to course through us and manifest into the world. We are aligned, filled with light, experiencing and expressing the life energy that is our true being. 

This courage to not dare is reflected in the last part of the chapter describing the essence of this universal energy.

Heaven’s Tao 
Does not strive yet achieves good victory
Does not speak yet expresses good response
Does not summon yet itself comes

I especially like this last line. I’m comforted by the idea that this energy is ever present, not demanding of me, but rather offering itself. 

Heaven’s net is wide and vast
Infinitely spacious, holding everything

These lines remind me of Indra’s net, connecting everything in the universe, with a jewel at each intersection of the strands, reflecting the image of all other jewels. If we are made in the image of God, as the Bible says, then this passages tells us that we are all connected, not only to God but to each other, held in an infinite embrace, each reflecting to everyone the divine spark shining within all of us. 

So beautiful.


  1. A lovely chapter and interpretation, Galen. When I think of daring, there is always fear at the back of it. Fear of bodily harm, or more often mental and emotional harm that can come from speaking ones' mind against an inner pull back of recognising that it may not be the right time or moment to express it! I can think of a few instances in the past, where I knew that what I was going to say was going to stir some people up, but I felt I owed it to myself to say it anyway. If I'm honest, a little bit of ego was working and the idea of sticking up for principles. These days, I find far less need to dare, becasue I feel more comfortable with myself and can allow things to develop, where the right moment may come to more naturally intervene. It all comes down to nature and natural flow, doesn't it?

    I've been taking a break from reading blogs and writing them, so much covid 19 stuff or going over old ground for me, but I'm ready to get back in the groove soon!

    1. Glad you stopped by. I've checked your blog and noticed that you haven't posted in a while. Look forward to seeing you back.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with the concept of daring. It can be interpreted and expressed in so many ways. But I think you summed it up well when you said that alignment with the natural flow leads us to act or not act in harmony with nature rather than against it.

  2. We are all intertwined with one another, Galen. It is why we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

    1. Yes, Martha. I agree. That's why I love the beautiful image of Indra's net, all of us reflecting each other and being reflected by each other, all while connected by the strands of the net. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Very interesting thoughts on this one. I like the last part because I do believe we are all children of Heavenly Parents and that we all lived together in a Pre-earth life and we all came down here to gain a body and be tested to see if we would ultimately find and work on coming back to our Heavenly home through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This means we are all connected as brothers and sisters.
    Thanks for your thoughts today, I enjoyed reading it all!
    Blessings and hugs!

    1. Thanks, LeAnn. I always appreciate your sharing your perspective. Amazing how things can track together with different vocabulary.


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