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Toon-Te-Ching: Verse 14

Welcome to this installment of the Toon-Te-Ching. We are taking one of the 81 verses of the Tao-Te-Ching, pairing it with a toon and connecting the teaching to our work life.


Verse 14

That which cannot be seen is called invisible.

That which cannot be heard is called inaudible.

That which cannot be held is called intangible.

These three cannot be defined;

therefore, they are merged as one.

Each of these three is subtle for description.

By intuition you can see it,

hear it,

and feel it.

Then the unseen,

unheard,

and untouched

are present as one.

Its rising brings no dawn,

its setting no darkness;

it goes on and on, unnameable,

returning into nothingness.

Approach it and there is no beginning;

follow it and there is no end.

You cannot know it, but you can be it,

at ease in your own life.

Discovering how things have always been

brings one into harmony with the Way.


“At Ease” vs “Easy”. This verse of the Tao suggests we can be at ease in our own lives. I wonder what it would look like to be ‘at ease’ at work? I wouldn’t expect it to mean that things are easy and leisurely, I would expect that it means I’m at ease even when the work is difficult. Can we separate works and “tasks” that can be difficult, while we as humans are still at ease? What are the things that make us ill at ease with our work tasks?

Let’s try this on through a scenario. You’re at work, working on a deadline for next week, and your boss comes in and tells you that they actually need that thing you’re working on, 2 days earlier than planned. You cannot even imagine how this is possible without you and your team working around the clock for the rest of the week, and even then you’re not confident it can get done. This is not going to be easy. What would it take for you to be at ease in this situation? Could you approach the assignment where the constraint is being at ease? What if you said to your team “Boss wants this 2 days early. Let’s talk about what we can do to meet the need without stressing out and without missing our kids’ soccer games and dance recitals.”

Invisible, inaudible and intangible. What is unseen, unsaid and untouched in your workplace? Is the invisible, inaudible and intangible more powerful than the visible, audible and tangible?

Have you ever been in a meeting where one person is the loudest voice, dictating decisions and ideas while others keep quiet? The resistance is the room can be palpable, but yet no one has voiced it. Get attuned to the things that are going on, but not in the explicit realm. Use that knowledge to create ease.

Brain Twist: Tap into the current that runs beneath your daily life at work. We’ve wrapped our work world in spreadsheets, status reports, and project plans, but look at what’s there when you strip those away? Can you separate yourself from the artifacts that drive you to lose your ease of being?

Verse translation: Dyer, Wayne. Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao (p. 64). Hay House. Kindle Edition.



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