Derek Lin Tao Te Ching – Annotated and Explained
Hold on to the truest tranquility
The myriad things are all active
I therefore watch their return
Everything flourishes; each returns to its root
Returning to the root is called tranquility
Tranquility is called returning to one’s nature
Returning to one’s nature is called constancy
Knowing constancy is called clarity
Not knowing constancy, one recklessly causes trouble
Knowing constancy is acceptance.
Acceptance is impartiality.
Impartiality is sovereign.
Sovereign is heaven.
Heaven is Tao.
Tao is eternal
The self is no more, without danger
- Cyclic pattern, Flourish then return, From active and flourishing to silent and empty.
From fallow fields to springing sprouts to bountiful fruit my life so resembles. Roused from sleep into planning and planting then tending the garden that is my life until my harvest, festival and burning of my season’s field. To still, to silence, to allow serenity. This until the melting of the frost and the rising of the spring sun.
- Feel oneness, find tranquility, discover one’s innate nature, accept self as part of all, realize constant clarity, experience nature.
I am closest to my nature when I flow with the pattern, imitating nature’s patterns. Not distant and apart but close and whole. Being whole, I wander not more. I find my nature in nature. My self resides in each dried leaf and crust of earth. Innate mystery enclosed in all things enables my acceptance of the mysteries within. My mottled self? Flaws no longer matter. What is dissimilar in me makes akin to nature. Look for truth which explains itself not.
- Cultivate reality, encounter pain but abandon wishful expectations, stubborn refusal wishes for suffering.
Cultivate nature’s evidence, not the thin wishes of cloudy belief. Expect clouds and cover, know brightness follows dark, healing follows injury. Standing up against the rain only suffers oneself, find shelter for now.
- Rule only self, create only what can be ruled, destine only created reality, authorize only with regard to destination, learn to rule wisely.
I control nothing but the direction and
examination of my nature. In between lie my creations which I must rule of run
from. From examining my creations, I modulate my direction. This crooked path
to destiny becomes solely my own. The path
continues whether my authority or none. Learn. Rule. And wisely.
 Everything in nature exhibits a cyclic pattern: the changing seasons, the tides, the sun, the moon. All living things flourish and eventually return to their origin in the recurrent cycles of life. When we quiet the internal chatter and bear silent witness to the miraculous natural processes at work, we strengthen our connection with the empty, yet incredibly prolific, creativity of the Tao.
 This is a precise description of what happens when we feel our essential oneness with nature. In that oneness, we find the gift of tranquility. We discover that nature is not merely all around us but also inside of us. Human nature is but a microcosm of the greater nature. The realization of this constant, unchanging principle brings us spiritual clarity. This clarity cannot be described in words and must be experienced firsthand.
 Tao cultivators accept reality as it is, rather than as they wish it to be. The troubles we encounter in life and the pain associated with them are caused by the disparity between our expectations and the way things are. The more stubbornly we refuse to accept, the more we suffer.
 To be sovereign is to possess authentic power—not power over other people, but power over oneself. It is the profound realization that we are ultimately responsible for creating our own reality. We have the ultimate authority over our own destiny. Our sacred task in life is to learn how to exercise this sovereign power wisely.