Get fully vaccinated and wear a mask! It's like wearing a seat belt. It's like wearing a shirt and shoes when you go shopping. It's like not smoking in restaurants and shops, etc. that prohibit smoking. It's like driving on the right side of the road. It's like stopping on red and going on green. It's like taking turns at four-way stop signs. It's like yielding the right-of-way at traffic circles. It's like not breaking in line. It's like honoring the right to be served first of the people who were there before you. It's like zipping up when you leave the restroom. It's like doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, where it needs to be done, how it needs to be done, for as long as it needs to be done, because it needs to be done. It's like saving lives. Whether you think so or not. Whether you feel like it or not. Whether you want to or not. Whether it's convenient or not. Whether you are in the mood to do it or not. Whether your friends laugh at you are not. What kind of friend would that be?
"Tao" is an old Chinese word meaning "way" or "path." "Te" means "virtue." "Ching" means "classic" (As in "classical music" a "classic book." "Tao te Ching" is "The Classic Way of Virtue," or, "The Classic Virtue of The Way." "Virtue" is to be understood as the essence of who you/we are. The "specialties/gifts/daemon/virtues" that make us "us," that reflect/exhibit/express "the face that was ours before our grandparents (both sets) were born." As in, "The virtues of this mare include her gentle gait and her love for children." What do your virtues include? The Tao is about the way you bring them forth, reflecting/exhibiting/expressing your best in how you live your life. Doing what needs to be done, where it needs to be done, when it needs to be done, how it needs to be done, because it needs to be done, in each situation as it arises, all your life long. Tao te Ching.
Lao Tzu's "Tao te Ching," which is also called, "The Lao Tzu," includes a statement which has been traditionally interpreted to read, "The Tao that can be told/said is not the eternal Tao." Martin Palmer interprets it as saying: "The path that can be discerned as a path, is not a reliable path." Which is to say, if we are following someone else's idea of who and how we ought to be, we are not on our path. If anybody else is telling us what to do and how to be, we are not on our path. And so, the old Chinese Zen masters (Zen is what happened when Taoism met Buddhism) could say, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." The same would apply to Lao Tzu and Jesus, and all of their disciples. We step into a situation, and what we do there is to flow from who we are when we are being true to the deepest essence of our soul/heart/self. We alone know what that is-- and we don't know it by thinking about it, but by watching what we do spontaneously, straight from the heart/soul/self in response to what meets us in the situation. Our automatic/natural/spontaneous response to what happens in any situation reveals us to us as much as it does to those in the situation with us. We know who we are by seeing what we do and hearing what we say in unguarded moments when we are responding "off the cuff," "on the fly," "in the moment," to what is happening here and now. Reflecting on that over time can shape who we are on one hand, and change the way we think about who we are on another hand. And on another hand, it can shift us toward being one who lives out of their own sense of what needs to be done, trusting themselves to be what is needed, without worrying about what the Buddha, or Jesus, or Lao Tzu, or their disciples, might think of what and how we do what we do. The reliable path comes out of the center of our own self. When we seek to follow that path, we are on the right path, regardless of how wrong it might appear to be. Jesus was killed for not being who he was "supposed to be." Jesus, the Buddha and Lao Tzu were all misunderstood. Being true to ourselves is not the path to fortune and glory. It is the path to being who we are in each situation as it arises. That turned out to be more valuable than Jesus, the Buddha and Lao Tzu had any right to think, or hope, believe or imagine it would be. May it be so for you and me as well!
No expectation. No judgment. No opinion. Just awareness. Just compassion. Just seeing. Just knowing. Just doing what needs to be done. Where it needs to be done. When it needs to be done. The way it needs to be done. Because it needs to be done. In each situation as it arises. All our life long.
Lieu Tzu is one of the Four Pillars of Classic Taoism, along with Lao Tzu, Chung Tzu and Wen Tzu, and said: "In our short time here, we should listen to our own voices, follow our own hearts. Why not be free and live your own life? Why follow other people's rules and live to please others? Why not let your life be guided by your own heart?" This is from about 300 BCE. Over 2,000 years later, it still needs to be grasped and applied.