Tao Te Ching Commentary: High and Low

kun lun

High and low determine one another

The sage seeks to betake himself all the way to the highest heights of heaven. But, in order to do this, we must start at the very bottom. As Lao Tzu says in a later sutra ‘A thousand mile journey begins with a single step.’ You must start at the bottom of the mountain in order to get to the top. This is important, because it teaches us humility along The Way. As Deng Ming Dao reminds us in 365 Tao , there is always someone ahead of us, and always someone behind us. So we should not feel superior if success accompanies us, or give into self-loathing if failure betakes us. We should just be present of our placement within the enormous scheme of things, and always aim towards the topless top, fully understanding that destiny does not always exercise itself in a linear fashion, but is more likely to be circuitous and spiral-shaped.

Though many of us may feel it is our divine birth-right to be great master, musicians, actors, writers, businessmen, etc., the universe will not just hand such accomplishments straight to us. Rather, we must work hard, and be devoted to our cause, in order to prove that we are worthy of such attainments. Having potential is not enough – we must channel that potential correctly. And it is ultimately how we channel our potential that determines the high and the low.


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