Taoism is often paradoxical. It's extraordinarily simple, which makes understanding it incredibly complex.
A core idea in Taoism is its "three treasures", three virtues that when practiced bring peace, and power to your life. They are:
It's that second one, simplicity, or jian (pronounced chian) that's on my mind today.
A related idea that goes right along with jian is that of detachment. When I first began my studies about a decade ago, mindful detachment was a total mystery to me. I thought it meant apathy, or indifference. Not so at all.
Verse 7 of the Tao te Ching has some instruction on this.
The Tao is infinite, eternal.
Why is it eternal?
It was never born;
thus it can never die.
Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself;
thus it is present for all beings.
The Master stays behind;
that is why she is ahead.
She is detached from all things;
that is why she is one with them.
Because she has let go of herself,
she is perfectly fulfilled.
Detachment isn't not loving or caring about a thing. It's just the opposite. It's having identification with all things. It's not playing favorites.
Let's say you go out to eat, and want the chicken. But they're out. You have the salmon instead. Because your needs are simple, just to eat, either choice is fine. You're detached from having to have the chicken. It's not that it doesn't matter. It's that you are fine however it works out.
When your needs are simple, you can fulfill them simply.
It's taken me over a decade to work this out. I'm grateful for the experience and the knowledge.