7 Life Lessons from Tao

Will Russell
3 min readNov 3, 2019

The Tao Te Ching takes 20 minutes to read and 20 lifetimes to understand. This dog learned it in 1.

The Tao Te Ching, a two and half thousand-year text credited to Laozi, the second most translated book in world literature, forms the basis of Taoism. It teaches how to live in harmony with the world. It is hard, very hard, to master, but my dog, Betty is Tao. Here are seven things she does that are pure Tao.

1. Look within yourself and you will find everything you need.

“Knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.” So says, the Tao Te Ching.

Our culture focuses on making more — more money, more of yourself. These actions from a Taoist perspective are considered yang and are based on outwards and external movement.

Yin and Yang describe nature in dualities with two opposite, complementary and interdependent forces.

You require a balance of Yin and Yang. You need to spend time cultivating your Ying, which is your inner experience. You can do this through meditation and mindfulness, so that you have a deeper resource of energy and balance to draw from.

Betty spends a lot of time lying around, thinking, at least she looks like she is thinking.

2. You Become Free By Letting Yourself Go

Examine the attachments that you are clinging to that are causing pain to you or others. Attachment to recognition, attachment to security, attachment to control. Developing a state of non-attachment makes you freer to open your heart wider.

Betty has no attachments which cause her pain or others pain, at least none that I am aware of.

3. If You Really Want To Know Yourself, Let Go Of Your Labels

If you define yourself, you cannot know who you really are. What you whisper to yourself every day becomes your sense of self and directs your thoughts and actions. Do not label yourself or allow anyone else to label you. You are much freer to move from experience to experience, emotion to emotion when not being chained to one way of thinking. It is so much easier to move on from a mistake when you don’t carry it along with you.

Betty doesn’t carry her mistakes, I know this, because if she is given a chance, she will gobble up everyone’s food but she never shows remorse.

4. Kindness and Compassion Will Always Win Out In The End

The Way of The River. The River nurtures everything it passes through, it moves on without seeking recognition.

When you practice compassion you gain great insight into yourself. When you put others first, you put yourself first. It appears to be a sign of weakness but it is a sign of strength

No matter what the day presents to Betty, she is happy when you are happy.

5. Be Yourself Without Caring What Others Think

Care what other people think of you and you will always be their prisoner.

Betty doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of her.

6. Wisdom and Strength Come From Remaining Humble

The wise man is one who knows what he does not know.

Betty doesn’t look at the stars and try to understand them.

7. Change Is Inevitable, So Embrace It, Even If It is Uncomfortable

Rather than fighting against the condition of your life, you should allow things to take their natural course.

At any time Betty can be scooped up, placed in a car, not knowing for how long or where she is going. She is never concerned, she puts her head out the window, tongue out, she rides the wave for however long it takes to wherever it is taking her.