Chapter two of the Tao Te Ching explains that to judge something as beautiful we must acknowledge something else as ugly. The very discernment perhaps creates the ugliness.
To express what we like, we often express what we dislike, either explicitly or implicitly.
This is neither good nor bad, but something to keep in mind when praising or critiquing.
Tao, encompassing all things without exception, does not prefer the beautiful over the ugly, nor even the good over the bad. Remember, the straight tree may be felled and crafted into a much needed (and beautiful) home or table, but the twisted tree is left by the woodcutter.
I have some further thoughts to share, difficult ones.
A flood that devastates a village is not evil, even if tragedies occur.
You may wonder if I’m about to discuss the farmer whose horse ran away – his neighbour exclaimed at this ‘bad luck’ but the farmer only replied “we’ll see”.
I am thinking of that story, but I want to go further than the usual ‘you can’t judge things‘.
There is evil in the world. I think it’s in people’s intentions and in people’s careless behaviour – often in what they don’t do and don’t think; I feel it’s in their stunted or warped te.
Without making light of this massive topic, for me, it’s like the Sith and the Jedi – both have an excellent relationship with the Force, both have very high ideals, but each have a different personal expression of their power and virtue. Not all those outside of the Jedi pathway perform evil or even ‘selfish’ acts, and not all those within the Jedi group are perfect examples of nobility.
Te needs to be cultivated; it’s not enough to flow with Tao. Although, imagine how difficult personal growth and te cultivation would be if one were out of touch with Tao?
I am not going to be foolish enough to define Tao, and I’m not foolish enough to define te beyond the manner in which I mention it. I may be foolish enough in the future.
But your te is no doubt a little Sith and a little Jedi – unless you’ve decided to become a master, in which case you’ll walk a certain path. Me? Oh I’m an idiot; I’m still wrestling with dualistic thinking and arrogant enough to believe that ‘well secluded, I see all‘.
Do not strive to be ‘good’ or ‘beautiful’ – be in harmony with Tao and cultivate your te so as allow secondary concerns to accrue naturally, without thought for them.