Imagine you are looking at a pendulum in its natural, resting position—hanging straight down in accordance with the force of gravity. Let’s say you decide that it should be moved to the right, so you pull it. Now what happens when you let go? It swings directly to the opposite direction, goes back and forth for a while, then ultimately settles right back into its natural position.
The same is true in everything we do. Our attempts to change people, or to change the world, will only bring about wild swings and meaningless dramas until everything ultimately settles right back to the natural position.
When governments pass laws to change our behavior, the people rebel by doing the opposite. The same is true when we try to change our partners, our friends, or children.
Wars are won and wars are lost—but, given enough time, everything always returns to its natural resting position. Even well-intentioned attempts to control nature bring chaos and destruction—but, given enough time, nature will effortlessly establish an equilibrium (whether humans ultimately remain to witness this or not).
Splash the water, create the waves, then watch the waves settle.
The Tao Te Ching teaches us not only about God—the unmanifested from which all things are born and to which all things return—it also teaches us about harmony and balance. Wisdom means letting things be, accepting what is, because we know that it is not possible for us to change anything anyway.
We may seem to have the power to move the pendulum to one side, but it will only stay there if we continue holding it. At some point, we must let go. When we do, the universe reminds us that we possess no true power outside of nature’s perfect balance. We continue tomorrow and each day after that.