A Matter of Perspective


Tao Tuesday – in participation with the Tao Te Ching Daily site by Amy Putkonen.


Chapter 79


Failure is an opportunity.

If you blame someone else,

there is no end to the blame.


Therefore the Master

fulfills her own obligations

and corrects her own mistakes.

She does what she needs to do

and demands nothing of others.


First, I read Amy’s essay on this chapter, which is beautiful and wise, and talks about Conflict and the ways we live within it.

I look at our world and the shambles it is in, the conflicts going on all over the place. I don’t even watch the news, because it is so terrifying. But I get snippets of the outside world through social media, which makes me want to hide from the world. I see the grown-ups in charge and I wonder if there is any hope for us at all. There is so much blame, and finger-pointing.

But then, I have to look at myself. After-all, that is what this chapter is about anyway. Looking within, any time there is a conflict, and seeing where I have tried to attach blame. Fulfilling my own obligations – my obligation to live at peace, my obligation to be a calm spot for my family to gather around, my obligation to listen to my children, my obligation to carve out time for me to be still and listen to my own heart.

If my focus is on my obligations, and I am self-correcting my own mistakes along the way, demanding nothing of others, there is Peace in that realm. Obligations seem different from my chores. Somehow, there is a difference. Like my chores are the material manifestation of my heart’s work, my obligations. Let me see if I can unravel that. It’s spun up in my head and trying to work itself out through the practice of writing.

Let me look at my Chores and see what Obligation of my Heart is behind each…

Chore: housekeeping = Obligation: Creating and Maintaining a place of refuge and solace, healing, plenty, a place of warmth and love, a place to call Home.

Chore: preparing meals = Obligation: Sustaining health, vitality, comfort, a gathering time for family, rejuvenation, community, memories around our table, with extra helpings of deliciousness.

Chore: serving my customers, gaining more market share for our business through sales, marketing, and outstanding customer service = Obligation: Partnering with my husband to create a business that can provide for our family, be a service to our community and give us the flexibility to work from home and be with our kids.

Chore: carving out time for me to write, do poetry, share poetry at events in the area, possibly put together my book of poetry in near future = Obligation: My spiritual practice is writing – it is what grounds me, focuses me on the work of being my best self, and brings me to the feet of the divine, giving me a place to be reverent and awe-struck. When I do not make time for this, I am out of balance and clumsy in the world. I bump into things, and hurt myself and others.

What a beautiful gift this has been for me – to see my sometimes endless list of To-Do’s brought neatly into a little package of Why I Do These Things. The reasons behind the chores – the obligations, the gifts I can bring to my family by doing what I need to do and fulfilling my own obligations, my own soul’s work.

And somehow, this started with thinking about Blame. I think I can sometimes feel unappreciated in my work as a homemaker. People don’t see all the work that goes into getting the house or keeping the house neat and clean and pleasant to come home to – I admit to feeling like they should make a big deal out of how nice it is after I’ve spent all day cleaning it. But that is looking at it from the wrong angle, as I so often do. They don’t notice the difference, because I work hard to keep it nice. It should be effortless for others to enjoy a clean house. And I do this for myself anyway.

Understanding the beauty beneath the work of the chores I do for my family, my home, my job, and my soul turns everything into spiritual work. Not to be all dreamy-voiced or anything, but that is so true. How I go about my tasks is the difference between seeing it as thankless work, or seeing it as soul-satisfying. Wow.

photo from here

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