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Good in Bad

Good and Bad

The Tao Te Ching is a fascinating book.  Every time I read it, I am amazed at the complex yet simple look at our existence.  Before I started reading the Tao, I would tend to make a big deal out of everything.  Emotions controlled much of my thoughts and my actions would follow along.  

The Tao provides such an interesting look at life that I no longer get over-excited about things.  The paradoxical look at life leaves me realizing that there is good in everything and bad in everything at the same time.  

A friend of mine got a big promotion about a year ago.  He was very excited and we celebrated his achievement.  Over the next year, however, the company shifted its focus and his department was reduced significantly.  He ended up losing his job, but those in his old position remained with the company.  After losing his job, he found another in a field that he really wanted to work in and it ended up paying more and being more rewarding than the first.  

In this situation was the promotion a good thing or a bad thing?  Was the layoff a good thing or a bad thing?  In the moment it would have been easy for him to answer, but over time it became confusing.  The reality is that the full system is both good and bad but we try to see the small sections of our life system and make judgments.  

I have found that all of life is similar to the previous story.  There isn’t anything good without the seed of bad in it and there isn’t anything bad without the seed of good in it.  Previously I would spend all my time determining how I felt about something.  Over time I have come to understand that it doesn’t matter how I judge something or someone, because both good and bad always coexist.  We cannot have one without the other.  

Instead of trying to judge everyone and everything in our lives, we should try to understand that things aren’t really good or bad.  Good and bad are judgments that, in no way, affect the reality that things just are. 

Winning the lottery sounds like it would only be good, but too often we hear of lottery winners that are more miserable after winning then before.  Working out every day might seem to be a pain, but the rewards will likely be much greater in the longer term.  Getting a promotion usually means success but it also means that you will likely have more responsibility; you may have to manage more employees, and might have to work longer hours.  

The best thing about understanding this principle is that you can finally choose how to view something.  You will see everything for what it is.  No longer will your mind try to ignore aspects in order to convince you that it is good or bad.  You will always see the success with the failure, the stress and the relaxation, the hard work along with laziness.  This will allow you to gain control of your emotions because you will always realize that whatever happens, good and bad will be a part of it and you can’t separate the two quite the way we think.  Instead we understand that everything just is.  The full system will never be truly revealed so judging sections of it is fruitless.