In the sixth century BC, a Chinese scholar named Lao Tzu wrote 81 short essays, the Tao Te Ching. Rather than a word, each Chinese symbol represents an idea. Thus Lao Tzu was able to express great wisdom in brief passages. You might say that the Tao Te Ching is the earliest book to fully explain the Law of Attraction.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Can We Live in a Practical Utopia?

The section of the Tao Te Ching, essay #80, that I attracted today is one of the most personal and accessible. Lao Tzu writes about what the perfect society would look like. I’m not sure how to relate his words to the Law of Attraction, but am hoping the connection flows from my fingers as I put words on the page.

Lao Tzu writes about the value of living in a “small organization with few people.” One might imagine that he would be appalled by New York City, where I’m now visiting my daughter. But I think in fact the opposite is true. I think perhaps Lao Tzu is talking less about numbers, and more about a sense of connection.

How New York is a Taoist City

Though it houses over 8 million people, New York is a city of neighborhoods. People tend to recognize each other, whether it’s the owner of the corner store who greets you as he sweeps the sidewalk in front of his shop or the barista who remembers you drink cafe latte light. In a sense, New York is a utopia Lao Tzu would recognize.

We each have the opportunity to create this aspect of utopia, of living in a small organization with few people, in all aspects of our lives. Mostly, we do it instinctively. We invite a few friends for dinner. Our families are a ‘small organization.’ At work, we find two or three or five people we relate to best.

We can also consciously increase this sense of connection. Here, the Law of Attraction comes into play. We can smile on the sidewalk, creating connection with our neighbors. We can bring a plant into the office, connecting people and nature and ourselves. Each gesture will add to the collective vibration, and our neighborhoods and cities will attract more and more friendliness and peace.

What Are the Elements We Need to Live Contentedly? 

We Need Tools

“Let there be ten or a hundred times more tools than they can use.” We need tools, the practical elements of life. The cook needs food, the carpenter needs wood and a hammer, this writer needs her computer! In our perfect world, people have the tools they need. As a definition of abundance, we could do a lot worse.

Next time we wish for abundance, let’s wish for the tools to achieve our goals, rather than to have the results handed to us!

We Need Purpose 

“Let the people value their lives.” We need to feel as though our lives matter. This is a huge benefit of living in a small circle. The contribution of each member is essential to the welfare of the whole, a sometimes unacknowledged benefit of living in a village.

How can we attract this benefit, this abundance, into our modern lives? Lao Tzu’s first words, advising us to look within our circle for happiness, apply here. If you are raising a family, think about the contribution of each member. When was the last time you thanked your children for something they’ve done to help out? Let your partner know you appreciate their support!

Can you help a neighbor with her yard? A friend and I planted 20 trees along our street (with permission), and it pulled the neighborhood together amazingly. Everyone started talking, people came out to help us plant and water, people started mowing their lawns and planting flowers. We just wanted more shade, and what we got was a healthier, happier neighborhood.

In the midst of all this connecting and appreciating, don’t forget to give yourself credit. You contribute more and in different ways than you can imagine. You may already be making a thank you list each night of things you are grateful for. Start another list of ways you have connected or fostered connections. What you focus on grows. Nurture your own sense of connection and purpose and it will flourish.

A Modern Utopia 

There are several more verses and topics in essay #80, but I’ll leave them for another day. For now, I’ll let Lao Tzu’s words be the recap. When we wish for the tools to achieve our dreams, and when we live in connection with each other and with nature, we truly live in a modern Utopia.

Our “food will be pleasing.”
Our “clothes will be fine.”
Our “homes will be secure.”
Our “customs will be joyful.”


Mary Carol


  1. Nice MC,

    Our own modern Utopia. Never really thought about it. But it does make sense, and I think I've even seen it at work. There were some places where it was great to go there and be with the people. I had people that I just related with and had a great time. Then there were the places where it seemed nobody got along, and it was very stressful.

    And as you said, having the tools is the key. Realizing I was key to those environments, that I can create Utopia or tear it down is frightening and enlightening. But knowing I have the tools available, and that they are always there if I look for and appreciate them, lightens the load.

    Now I'm off to start looking for more tools. I know they're around here somewhere...

    1. Hi Nay,

      How great that you've experienced some excellent work situations. Can you identify any elements that made things work? Any tools to share?

      I like the idea that even in this huge, complex, sometimes overwhelming world, we can still create our own personal Utopia. Maybe I should write a post on what our tools can be. What do you think? I'd love to hear your ideas.

      Thanks for writing! Big warm hugs,

      Mary Carol

  2. Hey MC,

    Sorry it took me so long to come by. I love the focus on individual connection. When we focus on the NOW, on whatever connection we have in this moment, our world seems to shrink in that moment. It makes sense that this is what is meant by small organization. I've been focusing more on connection lately, as well. It's one of the papers on my wall, lol. And connections are increasing in the most wonderful ways. Not only are there more people that I feel connected to, but I feel more connected (and less disconnected) all the time. I feel more connected to the all.

    Ah, I love this stuff!! I hope you're having the time of your life in NY!

    Huge hugs!

    1. Hi Melody,

      I like the way you explain this: Focus on the personal connections in your life. Yes! What's right around us can be awesome, our own Utopia. The papers on the all technique works. Yeah!

      Huge hugs,

      Mary Carol

  3. I guess it all boils down to "Think globally, act locally." Something I've always believed is that if we want to make the world a better place, we need to start by making our own neighbourhoods better places. But I think it even has to start smaller than that: "person by person, family by family, community by community, state by state, country by country, until all the world believes..."

    I think we have to sort ourselves out first, and create our own internal "mental utopia" before we can really hope to see that outside of ourselves, no matter what size of a city we live in. But I also think that if lots of people start small (with themselves first), the ripple effects from that will add up to something huge. I thinks it's one of the reasons the whole LOA / positivity thing fascinates me so much.

    1. Hi Nathalie,

      So true! I hadn't thought of the correlation between "think global, act local" and this passage from the Tao Te Ching, but it fits perfectly. As well, when we create a little Utopia around ourselves, we are living in peace, in a space that allows us to discover right actions. Isn't it awesome how it all comes together!


      Mary Carol

      PS I"m about to get on the plane to Ireland! Woohoo!

  4. I love what you are writing here, Carol. I am currently transcribing my own version of the Tao Te Ching in the feminine voice over at my blog. I would love to connect with you more since it seems we have very similar ideas and it is rare that I find any current Taoist bloggers! Fun! I am so excited that I found you. Please stop by and say hello.

    1. Hi Amy,

      Thanks so much for finding me! I'll head over to your blog as soon as I finish typing this. You're right that it's rare to run into a fellow Taoist - yeah! I look forward to reading your thoughts on all these topics. Thanks again for joining the conversation.

      Warm hug,

      Mary Carol

    2. Mary Carol, wasn't one of your wall papers about making connections? :-)

  5. Yes! You two are amazing and excellent "proof" of LOA and the words on the wall technique! Hugs from Dublin, MC

  6. Small is beautiful, but utopias can be boring. That's why we're here on Earth.

    1. Hi All Things, Thanks for writing!

      I just finished reading The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond (the Guns, Germs, and Steel author). He looks at bands and tribes and extrapolates harmful qualities we don't want (high infant mortality, constant warfare, starvation, etc,) as well as some beneficial qualities we may want to recapture. Specifically, he writes about conviviality, less structured child rearing, salt and sugar-free eating, and a mediation-oriented justice system.

      To me, Lao Tzu is saying much the same thing - take the best, leave the rest. Even living in a huge city, we can keep our lives relatively simple and connected. Of course, as you say, an actual utopia could be quite boring, but a happier life is a attainable goal.

      Thanks again for commenting. Hug!

      Mary Carol