Fifteenth Verse of the Tao Te Ching:
The ancient masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it.
One can only describe them vaguely by their appearance.
Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream.
Alert, like men aware of danger.
Simple as uncarved wood.
Hollow like caves.
Yielding, like ice about to melt.
Amorphous, like muddy water.
But the muddiest water clears
as it is stilled.
And out of that stillness
He who keeps the Tao does not want to be full.
But precisely because he is never full,
he can remain like a hidden sprout
and does not rush to early ripening.
What Lao-tzu calls the ancient masters, I see as the Authentic-Self that resides within each of us. Our potential is limitless, but the muddy water of our lives often prevents us from seeing this potential.
Lao-tzu calls upon each of us to recognize the ancient master within, trust its guidance, and let go of the ego’s desire to force results. However, I think he’s also cautioning us to be on alert, observant of opportunities, open to receive, but not blindly going with the flow.
In my observations over many years as a family law attorney, I have noticed that impatient clients, who just want everything to be done as soon as possible, are the ones that struggle the most, learn the least, and end up with repeated visits to the courthouse, usually with the least satisfying results.
When we push against life, it pushes back. I think this is so because it’s trying to teach us the art of surrender. Not giving up, but surrendering the attachments we have to what happens and when. It’s teaching us to trust, trust in our Authentic-Selves, trust in nature, trust in a perfect Universe with all things unfolding with Divine timing.
With stillness comes clarity. Trying to force a result keeps you caught up in the distraction inherent in the 10,000 things. By surrendering to the stillness within, you give the chaos time to settle and when it does, you can see the options before you and make well-informed decisions about what’s best for you and your family, both now and long-term.
Reacting out of fear, scarcity, or anger stirs up the chaos around you, leading to rash, uninformed decisions that keep you stuck in the muck and mire, so life has to keep pushing back, not because it’s malicious, but because that’s how catalyst works to get you unstuck.
If you pray for patience, God doesn’t give you patience; She gives you plenty of experiences that help you to learn to choose patience.
Clients always ask me, “How long is this divorce going to take?” A good answer is, “As long as it needs to in order for you to let go of the judgments and limiting beliefs that brought it about in the first place,” but I typically hesitate to give this answer.
A hasty resolution will only mean that, more likely than not, nothing was learned, no healing took place, and life will have to push back.
An answer I do give on occasion is, “Well, just give into every one of your spouse’s demands, no matter how unreasonable, and I can have this wrapped up today.” Although, that’s typically not a very satisfying answer either, I give it to illustrate a point, which is to encourage ownership and responsibility for one’s own circumstances.
When you are full of expectations of fairness, you do not leave room for the miraculous.
Nature (the Tao) progresses with perfect timing. We spend so much effort trying to force anachronistic results that we damn up the river and clear-cut the forest, then wonder why we end up living in a desert.
Instead of chasing all the 10,000 things you believe are outside of you, surrender to the stillness within and you’ll begin to see that you are whole and complete exactly as you are.
Practice seeing the ancient master that dwells within your spouse. We all have our stories and perceptual filters, but the stillness will allow for more clarity in how we view the Divine perfection in others.
Practice being open to the requests of your spouse. Sometimes a minor concession can help bring about major progress in settlement.
Do not expect immediate concessions from your spouse, even when you think your request is minor. People going through a divorce are often on the defensive and it usually takes some time for them to hear the reasonableness of your request.
As my wife likes to say, “Sometimes you have to let it marinate.” Plant the seeds now, but don’t expect them to sprout today. The only way to bring about immediate results is through infinite patience.
Love & Light Ahead!
Michael C. Cotugno, Esq.
Conscious Divorce Attorney & Coach
M.A. in Spiritual Psychology