Recent events found me and some close friends dealing with a large amount of anger. After an interchange with some co-worker type people, we found ourselves seething. It was bad enough that even after we parted ways, the anger was enough to spur further texting and even ill feelings the next day as we returned to our tasks.
My friend (non-Taoist mind you) asked me, what would Lao Tzu do?
What a terrific question. I had no idea. I decided to peruse my pocket Tao Te Ching, and some of my goto websites for Taoist info about the subject.
The verse that stood out to me the most was 37:
"The way takes no action, but leaves nothing undone.
When you accept this the world will flourish, in harmony with nature.
Natures does not possess desire; Without desire, the heart becomes quiet; In this manner the whole world is made tranquil."
Another is a part of 49:
"A sage is good to those who are good; He is also good to those who are not good. Thereby, he is good."
There is also an abundance of statements about cultivating harmony and the importance of inaction. It says that compassion is the finest weapon and best defense used in an altercation.
Anger is a force that feeds upon itself. In the example situation, the others were angry because they were inconvenienced (not intentionally) by our actions. They lacked compassion in their words when explaining it to us. Our anger (At least my own) came from feeling a lack of gratitude. The others had not completed their work well, yet criticized the hard work we had put in.
I now realize that my anger came from a place of ego. I took the anger that was thrown at me and absorbed it. That anger acted like poison in my system. I found myself replaying the scene again and again, anger rising each time. This anger was merely from memories though, not from the actions themselves. My feeling of anger was a way to keep that injustice alive. This is where inaction becomes key. I should have made my feelings known in a kind and compassionate manner, and then simply accepted the situation as it is and moved on with my night.
I'm not done exploring this concept, as I feel it is an important one. But I feel better knowing how I may be able to handle that situation in the future.
So, what would Lao Tzu do? I think he would be able to kindly take the criticism and then let it go.