Tao Te Ching Summary: Lessons From Lao Tzu – Lesson 5

Lesson 1: The Lesson of God
Lesson 2: The Lesson of Silence
Lesson 3: The Lesson of Simplicity
Lesson 4: The Lesson of Acceptance
Lesson 5: The Lesson of Detachment
Lesson 6: The Lesson of Giving

Lesson 5: The Lesson of Detachment

The lesson of acceptance is a very powerful realization that we all have to come to on many different levels in our life.

There are many events and circumstances in life over which nobody has control, yet to the more enlightened, they are always in control through the way they process that which happens.

Acceptance is not a resignation to your “fate”, but liberation from it. Only when you see it, as that will you be empowered on the deepest spiritual level.

Acceptance is not just an acceptance of all the sh#* in our lives. It also includes an acceptance of all the goodness and prosperity in life. Acceptance is a way of inviting it into your life.

One of the most peculiar traps that we all fall into so often is that we tend to create solutions for our problems in our minds. We create associations to what we think will bring us the happiness we require.

Whether this is a new partner or a new job or more money or greater health. These goals are for the most part very healthy and tend to drive us to grow and expand as people.

The challenge is when we start to bond to these goals to the extent where our happiness and inner peace becomes attached to the realization of these goals.

An important aspect of learning to accept things without condition is learning to detach yourself from the outcome. Here’s what Lao Tzu had to say:

“He who is attached to things will suffer much.”

Lao Tzu (c.604 – 531 B.C.)

Why is it that in the west we live in a land of plenty yet very few seem to be abundant, happy and fulfilled?

The more we have, the less we seem to be interested in the welfare of our fellow beings and are only interested what we have or the size of our wallets compared to what others have and the size of their wallets and we have become the most money-oriented society in the history of humanity.

When you are attached to something it owns you. This is the suffering that Lao Tzu is talking about. On a deep spiritual level we long for freedom.

Even on a more practical everyday level we long for freedom. We work harder because we want more financial freedom and this often translates into more time to have the freedom to do the things we love.

It’s silly when you look at it like this because in our attempt to free ourselves we imprison ourselves , mostly because the means to the end (the money, time etc is outside ourselves.

When you are attached to things working out exactly the way you want them to, you start to place trust in something outside yourself. Over and over again, in order to correctly find yourself, you have to be prepared to let go.

This will make you feel insecure, as you feel as if you are being forced to lose the many facets of yourself which you hold so dear, but this will help you rediscover the real you. The more you let go of your ego’s demands, the closer you will be connected to your authentic higher self.

Having goals etc. is important in helping us focus our minds and working towards that which we want in life. The problem is when you become so attached to those results that it starts to control you.

When things “don’t work out” you tend to feel bad about yourself and your life and in the end your own happiness and self worth gets controlled by how something works out or not, things you often have no control over.

As long as you are attached to specific results for your own happiness, you will always be at the mercy of something outside yourself.

Set your goals, work hard, but do not become attached to the results and whether things work out or not. “Do” for the joy of doing and not for the promise of a result.

If you live your life for the fleeting moments of success when you achieve certain goals you will find yourself missing the point of life, which is to enjoy the ride and to enjoy all of it.

Detachment allows you to be here and now in this moment, which is all you’ve really got. When you are attached to some future outcome, you are always living in some non-descript future fantasy and the beauty of the moment will always pass you by and you will always feel like you are never really grabbing a hold of life.

The more you are able to go with the flow of life without the attachments, the more contented and happier you will feel.

The things you previously endlessly sort after and always ended up wanting more of, will begin to arrive in your life, not because you are chasing so hard, but because you are at peace, on purpose and in harmony with life.

“In the end, the treasure of life is missed by those who hold on
and gained by those who let go.” – Lao Tzu (c.604 – 531 B.C.)

The secret to living a fulfilled life is to “Do” and then retreat in peace with an inner knowing and a trust that what you really want will come to you at exactly the right time and exactly in the amounts necessary.

By getting closer to God you will learn to have a greater trust in his Divine presence in your life. Trusting in this divine force in your life is the opposite of doubt.

The reason why it is so hard for us to surrender and to detach from the outcome is because of doubt , because we are not sure whether we will actually get what we want, so we continue to latch on to specific results.

Because of our doubts and fears we continue to use force and employ all the physical ways and means available to us to alter circumstances.

When you let go and learn to trust, you allow this creative power to work in your life. Co-creating your life works this way. It is creative and seldom will things work out exactly the way you plan them.

Often we look for things to work out in a certain way and then it comes along in a completely different way, a way that we never even thought of before. This is what is meant by the Creative Force, which is just another name for God.

It is creative in its wisdom and orchestration of events and circumstances. When you are attached and so rigid in having things work out in only one specific way, you block this creative flow. When you learn to let go and surrender to this divine force in your life you allow it to really work in your life.

Being attached and insisting that things show up on your time frame and in your way blocks this creative power and blinds you to new and dynamic ways for things to manifest itself in your life.

Even if/when you get the things that you are striving for so hard, in the end you will still suffer when you are attached, because as long as you are attached to something else you are not free.

Your success might help you to suffer in comfort, but only when you are free in yourself, will you truly be successful and experience fulfillment at the highest level.

True freedom is a deep inner liberation. It’s not about having everything that you want, but realizing that you do not needing anything in the first place. True freedom is the ability to love without needing love and to give without wanting anything in return.

Detachment does not mean denying abundance and Lao Tzu points out the paradoxically detachment will bring about more abundance, the treasure of life will be gained by those who let go.

All our attachments are in form, something we are emotionally attached too, but as seen in the lessons of God, we are both form and formless. If we bear in mind that that our essence is in thought and we therefore have no need for attachments.

Application And Using This Lessons In Your Everyday Life:

  • We often feel that when we do certain things we should be rewarded and get a return on the investment of our time and effort. Start to do things for the sake of doing them and not because of what you will get in return.

    Be intelligent in your decisions and get all the help you need, but when it comes time to act, do it for the fun of doing it and not for what you will get in return. This will transform your attitude to life.
  • Stop demanding a return on everything that you do. You don’t always have to get something back. Recall St. Francis’ prayer “…for it is in giving that we receive.”

    Discover the joys of giving for yourself today by giving something to someone who cannot repay you and pay close attention to your attitude and how you feel when you do this.
  • Write it on your heart and remind yourself as often as necessary that your own happiness and fulfillment will NEVER come from any-thing outside yourself.

    It is an attitude and if you cannot be happy without the things you think you need to be happy, then you probably won’t be happy with them. There is no way to happiness , happiness is the way!
  • Detach from the need to hold on to people, as in reality we can never own anything or anyone and each attachment is an obstruction to living at a higher level of consciousness.
    Allow others to live their lives without trying to control them. Trying to get other people to conform to your way of thinking is a way of controlling them.

    Allow each soul to walk it’s own path. Offer your advice and insight in a loving and caring way and then retreat in peace, allowing every person in your life to be who they really are. The more you become detached the fewer obstacles you will find along your journey of life.

    Every attachment is like a rope that ties you back to your old self. You cannot move forward and grow into your self by being attached to anything.
  • The greatest paradox of the spiritual journey is to be detached from all people and all things, yet still see you as part of humanity as a whole. When you are able to do this everything flows and works, as it should.

    Detachment does not mean that you isolate yourself from everybody else. If anything it compels you to be more loving because when you are able to free yourself from your need to have other people think and act in the ways that you demand you will be more compassionate and more loving towards everybody.

    Extend this love by reaching out to people and act as if you are a light on their path of life.
  • Remember that you can see the beauty in anything and enjoy this but that is not attachment but simply allowing the energy of your joy and love to flow through the object you admire and back into you.

    Attachment to certain expectations often blocks us from seeing the inherent beauty in the imperfections of life. Beauty is all around you, you simply have to notice.
  • When you are fond of something or even someone, be clear about what it is that you actually like. Lets say you have an ornament that you treasure, then call a spade a spade and say, “ This is just an ornament”.

    In this way you become detached and if you break it, you will keep things in perspective. We all tend to bond emotionally to the things we love, but in reality the ‘things’ are not necessary because in the end the bond exists only in our minds.

    Most people can give away their old and unused items to charity, but can you go to your cupboard and pick your favorite shirt and give that away?
  • What attachments do you have? Are you attached to something that you are desperately hoping for in the future? Are you attached to your goals and are they keeping you from living today fully?

    Are you relying on any people to make you happy’? If you are suffering in any part of your life, then the chances are that somewhere deep down inside you have an attachment to something outside yourself.

    Remember what Lao Tzu teaches you today which is that those who hold on will miss the treasure of life. Let go and let God.

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With a passion for spirituality, self discovery, and understanding this life, Neod spends his time musing about what is, what could be and what might come about. After writing for 20 years he's still growing, learning, exploring and sharing with love, joy and compassion.

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