A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving.Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
It is one of the lessons on the principle of letting go. So often, we experience that things don’t go and work as we planned. We should be flexible enough like water to handle anything that happens and any situations in the path. A traveler means everyone, like us, who is living in our lives. Life is a journey. We are all travelers.
In our lives as a journey, then, as Lao Tzu advises, it seems that we travelers have to learn how to surrender these two things:
- Fixed plans
- Fixed goals
As always, Lao Tzu’s words sound counterintuitive, if not enigmatic. Our common sense tells us that plans and goals should be crucial to living a good, productive, and fruitful life. Lao Tzu, however, tells us otherwise.
One reason is that whatever we plan and set goals, after all, these are only in our minds. We can never know the real consequences unless and until we live in our lives. The actual results, therefore, always get beyond our original plans and goals in mind.
What should we do?
We should flexibly change our plans and goals based on the constant feedback as if we practice catch-as-catch-can wrestling. We should be mindful of the flow of heaven and earth, which doesn’t mean that we force ourselves to it. Instead, we should enjoy these constant changes as if we are like water naturally flowing on the shape of the stones and rocks in the river, not hitting and breaking them.
It doesn’t mean that we become erratic and inconsistent. But we are indeed consistent and stable in following the movement of heaven and earth and the universe.
Only in this constant flux of the universe, we can transcend the limited, often selfish, perspectives of how to live our lives. In the monotheistic view, we see this attitude following God’s Will, which is always timeless and spaceless, and selfless.
In God’s Will, life is no longer the period of how long we live, like eighty to ninety years. Even, it is not what we have done and achieved worldly, either. If anything, it could be what God has done for Himself. Only if and when we see His Will or align ourselves with the flow of the universe, we realize that we are nobody. Moreover, we have been nobody ever since.
Thus, a good traveler is on nobody’s journey without planning and arriving, called a journey everlasting.
Often, we hear life is short.
Is life short? Or, is it long? Why do we worry about the length of life in the first place? It’s because we see or locate it at a specific position within the spacetime continuum, which is, as mentioned above, in our minds.
In this perspective, we see life as a finite element with its start and end. More specifically, we imagine it as a box or calendar that we possess in one way or another.
As a box or calendar of life, the first thing we see is its quantity. How long can we live? What kind of things can we put in this box? What items can we mark in this calendar?
Usually, the average length of the calendar could be around eighty to ninety years. If lucky, it could be even one hundred years. Or else, it might be much shorter. We can recall cases as a newborn baby passed away without seeing the mother’s face. We also know those short-lived lives like twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty for various reasons, from accidents to diseases to even suicides.
Given such a spacetime-bound calendar box, we tend to think about what items and how many of them we can put into it.
Your box might contain too many. Your life is so busy and colorful that you have experienced many things, and your package seems full. Your calendar has no blank space any more. Or else, it might be empty saying your life is too simple to show anything. While some have visited many places worldwide, others have ended their lives within a small village without encountering anything exotic.
In the library, we see billions of books overwhelming us. Can we read them all in our limited lifespans? Of course, impossible. Suppose if you read one book a day for eighty years, you can read 29,200 books only, which could be just a tiny portion of the massive bookshelf in the library.
Or else, you could be thankful as you find a few valuable books that changed your life. You could be grateful as you have met a few best people in your life. You can also count these precious blessings.
Is life short or long? If your life is lengthy, does this mean you are lucky? If it is tight, you are unlucky? Is it fair or unfair?
Life is neither long nor short; the size and length don’t matter. Even the contents don’t matter, either.
Life is neither a calendar nor a box. It is not what we see in the spacetime axis. Such spacetime could be an illusion. There is no such thing as lucky or unlucky, fair or unfair.
When we are at sleep, we can’t sense life is either short or long. It is timeless and spaceless. Before we were born, we had no way to experience any measurements. After our death, we won’t see life in the spacetime axis anymore. Life is timeless and spaceless as it was before our birth, and as it will be after our death.
We tend to see life as a calendar box in the spacetime axis in living and possessing life. However, in transcending all these things, we would realize that true life is not an entity outside or in front of us.
Life is everlasting.
Let’s stay still and contemplate on a traveler without plans and goals, an artist who is spontaneous, or a thinker who is free from the prison of the mind, and our faith in His Will.
Then, we see life is everlasting.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.Galatians 6:8
Image by Pavlofox