Ironically, two is one
Here is what I was trying to say when I paraphrased TWO.
Taoism, like buddhism, contains the belief that nothing just is. Everything is the way it is because of one thing or another. Or, more accurately, one thing and another. At the same time, it is not a dualistic way of thinking. In other words, it doesn’t say there is this and that. If anything, it says there is this-and-that. This is something that will be repeated throughout the chapters.
What does this mean? It means that you can only talk about This if you know where its limits are. On the other side of the limits are That. Without That, you wouldn’t know where This began. So, This and That cannot be separated. They need each other to define each other.
When teachers are despondent because they have taught a bad class, they only know its bad because they know what a good class is. If all of their classes were bad, they wouldn’t be despondent because bad would be normal for them. Similarly, the consistently perfect teacher doesn’t exist. If someone is consistently anything, that anything is just average. To be perfect, you have to admit failure and frustration into your practice.
If students moan that they are not learning anything, they must have a clear idea of what they knew to begin with. Challenge them on this. You need to know what you’re bad at to get better; and to know what you’re bad at, you have to know what you’re good at. When you know what you’re good at, it is inevitable that you will see parts of your practice that are not good. This is usually followed by determined effort to improve upon these areas. When it isn’t, it is a sign that there are other things in your life that are clamouring for your attention.
People often beat themselves up about their shortcomings. But those shortcomings also have their causes and conditions. If you didn’t have them, the rest of your life would also be different (looking backwards, not forwards). So don’t try to eradicate your mistakes – just trust that if the causes and conditions are right, you will try to eradicate them; if the causes and conditions are not right, you will be defensive and resistant to change. Errare humanum est.
Finally, take the same approach when things go well. If they go well, the causes and conditions facilitated the whole endeavour. Sit down and try to analyse what made it work and you will end up intellectualising the whole thing. This leads to road maps and guides and How To…’s etc. People then try to implement these maps, guides and recipes even when the causes and conditions are not right. This leads to failure, recriminations and upset.
Accept that things will often go badly; accept that things will often go well. Be equally satisfied one way or another. This is the way to be!