Tao Te Ching Commentary: Accomplishing without Dwelling


Accomplishing without stopping

Because the sage dwells nowhere

He accomplishments last forever”

While this line does have the meaning of being ceaseless in one’s spiritual practice and emanation of compassion, it can also be translated as ‘accomplishing without dwelling on it,’ exhorting us not to become attached to the fruits of our labors. If we get attached to a great success or attainment, it will prevent us from overcoming our reliance on such things. Having achieved ‘a hit’ we will fall into a rut of contrivance, neurotically trying to repeat the success we had before. Everything fructifies itself according to the time – we cannot make things any greater or lesser than they are, otherwise we will be making elephants of insects, and businessmen out of fleas. Such attachments prevent us from being free, fresh and spontaneous – all of the qualities that actually make great successes possible. Learn from your past mistakes, but don’t get stuck on your past successes. Just do what is right for the moment, and keep it up, and that way the next moment can never go wrong.


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