Because Zen makes sense


To those who are good (to me), I am good; and to those who are not
good (to me), I am also good;–and thus (all) get to be good. To
those who are sincere (with me), I am sincere; and to those who are
not sincere (with me), I am also sincere;–and thus (all) get to be

So it is written in Tao Te Ching, chapter 49, the translation after James Legge.


How easy is it to live by this standard when one has been betrayed, has been tricked, has experienced broken confidentiality? And is it still right to behave decent to those who do not behave decent to me?

I have just experienced a couple of cases where one I trusted, and spoke to in a confidential manner, behaved just opposite than we agreed to. Then it is hard to still give them trust, still to be one hundred percent sincere against them. I could get angry about it, I could have rejected them. Instead, I continue to to be friendly, although with a thought that they can’t keep a secret, and therefore are treated with some minor reservations when it comes to confidentiality. I continue to be sincere.

But really trust them, like what is said in the translation of McDonald?

She trusts people who are trustworthy.
She also trusts people who aren’t trustworthy.
This is how she gains true trust.

I think this is a matter of the right amount of trust. Obviously they were unable to keep the promise of confidentiality. When I stayed at a hotel in Cape Town, I read a sign stating “Don’t tempt”, meaning not tempting someone to steal by showing off my own valuables. I would say this also the right way to think also in this case, regarding trust. Do not expect more from others regarding confidentiality than they can handle. Don’t offer information which tempt them to break their promises. They deserve better, I deserve better.

I am sure they actually had no intention of letting me down. And I perfectly survive that others know what they preferably should not know. I can live with this, put it behind me, and go on with my life. To confront them with what has happened shall only make them unhappy. So I keep this to myself, handle what has “leaked out”, and continue to be friendly.

And I would have been a hypocrite if I did not admit that I myself not always live up to the standard of Tao Te Ching. And then I am the one who needs the understanding from others. I must admit that I have let down people very close to me, people I love, and then I am the one hoping not to be rejected. So before I watch out, I shall watch inside. And then I often find the same faults in myself. Who am I, then, to blame others? This is mindfulness.

And what worth is there in wisdom, like in Tao Te Ching, if it is not to be treated with wisdom? Life is process, everything goes in cycles, and there is no eternal right use of rules and principles. Wisdom is flexibility and adaption.

Those who are stiff and rigid
are the disciples of death.
Those who are soft and yielding
are the disciples of life.

The rigid and stiff will be broken.
The soft and yielding will overcome.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 76.


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