If you overesteem great men,
people become powerless.
If you overvalue possessions,
people begin to steal.
This is another example of the ongoing investigation of opposites. Power and powerlessness are only definable in the presence of the other. By esteeming someone, you devalue others. There is no way around the notion of mutual arising. This is something to consider as we ponder the obvious extremes of the “alt-right” and the “social justice left”. Could it not be that they grew together out of a back and forth reactivity? This is mutual arising, which is a key concept in this text.
The Master leads
by emptying people’s minds
and filling their cores,
by weakening their ambition
and toughening their resolve.
He helps people lose everything
they know, everything they desire,
and creates confusion
in those who think that they know.
The master “leads” by demonstrating that to hash out our problems and relationships on a tit-for-tat level of material interaction, thinking and arguing is not going to keep us in Tao. What will do so is developing our embodied sense of Tao in our “core”. He leads them to understand that “ambition”, again, the longing for a particular desired outcome leads to turmoil – as exemplified by the notion of mutual arising in the previous paragraph. In the Buddhist sense, this is “attachment”. Therefore, they must lose “everything” that attaches them to the matrix of desire. The confusion he creates is telling them to relinquish their attachments to what they are sure they desire.\
and everything will fall into place.
This is how “Wu-Wei” works. or “Doing, not Doing”. By observing and experiencing, one will act when it is necessary to maintain harmony, or not at all and let Tao guide harmony in its Way.