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.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Attracting vs Asking, and the Virtue of Non-Action

Welcome to the adventure! I decided to use the Law of Attraction to choose/attract which of Lao Tzu’s essays would form the basis of each post. Four rolls of a die led me to a specific one of the 81 essays, #73. And it’s a doozy! A perfect place to start.

Meaning of Tao

First a quick explanation. Te Tao can be translated as The Universal Energy or The Flow of Nature. So when I mention Tao, feel free to choose the word that works best for you, whether God, the Great Spirit, Universal Energy, or some other expression. By whatever description, it’s the force that drives the Law of Attraction.

Asking vs Attracting

One line in #73 pretty much sums up the Law of Attraction: “The Tao does not summon, and yet attracts.” In plain English, just asking for something does not bring it. We can’t ‘summon’ our desires. What we can do is line up with them, so that they are attracted into our space.

Attracting Love

Here’s a simple example. Let’s say you want a certain person to fall in love with you. You probably already know that no matter what you do, you can’t ‘make’ them love you. It’s just not possible. So what can you do? We know that similar vibrations attract. The euphoria of love attracts more euphoria. “All the world loves a lover.” Your best option is just to love them, paying no attention to whether or not they love you back. This isn’t a groveling, pitiful love. It’s full-blown, all out, joyful, unconditional acceptance of exactly who they are.

You can speed things up even more by deciding to love everyone and everything! Remember that the more you feel the euphoria of love, the more love you will attract into your life. If your dream person is a match to loving you, it will happen. In any case, you will find yourself surrounded by the joy that you have attracted. Having a secret dream love can be a powerful attractor of all sorts of happy abundance!

Attracting Other Things

Our culture accepts the principle of attracting rather than summoning when it comes to love, making it easier for us to practice. It may be a little harder to apply in other situations, but the principle still holds. It comes down to generosity of emotion. Appreciate the heck out of your rattle-trap truck, and something excellent will come your way. It may not be what you expect, but keep your eyes open to the possibilities. A few months ago my truck died for good, and I had no money to buy another. I realized in hindsight that I had moved to a city with cheap, abundant taxis for a reason. I now taxi or walk everywhere, and just manifested a new rental house a block from the city’s largest taxi stand. Woohoo!

Okay, we’ve now looked at two lines of a seventeen line essay! We’ve gotten our heads around the concept that we can’t summon, but we can and do attract through generous emotions. Yeah! Catch your breath, because there’s lots more to explore.

When To Act, When to Not-Act

Essay #73 jumps right off the cliff into the giant dilemma of action versus non-action. The first three lines read: “Those bold in daring will die; Those bold in not daring will survive. Of these two, either may benefit or harm.” Whew. That’s heavy stuff. Let’s take it apart.

“Those bold in daring will die.” My understanding of these words is that “daring” is meant to imply action without sufficient forethought. Only right action is truly helpful, right action that grows, perhaps slowly, from compassion into wisdom. In Law of Attraction terms, we need to clear away our own resistances, that may be clouding our reactions, before taking action.

Imagine someone has insulted you. Your first impulse may be to insult them back. This would be a ‘bold in daring’ action. But what’s going on behind the scenes in that murky head of yours? Why have you reacted at all to the insult? You’ve reacted because some tiny part of you, some morsel of resistance, believes that the other person is right. If someone attacks me for being stupid, I laugh. I know to my core that I’m not stupid. The insult has no power. If someone comments that my dress looks a little tight, and have I gained weight? That’s another story. The person has touched a core insecurity, and I feel a little hurt. Reacting from that place of hurt can’t be a right action. It will only spiral me down into a lower feeling place.

Bold Non-Action

“Those bold in not daring will survive.” How can you be ‘bold’ in not daring? Not taking action can be harder than acting. If you and your partner are revving up for an argument, the bold action may be to take a deep breath and step back. The ‘not daring’ action of pausing and thinking calmly may help the relationship survive. The Tao advocates pausing in almost every situation. By reaching inside for the place of calm, we become much more likely to take right action, action that is in line with our Soul. Being ‘bold in not daring’ is a potent strategy for successful, joyful living.

It's Not Easy

“Of these two, either may benefit or harm… Even Evolved Individuals regard this as difficult. ” Here’s what I love about the Tao Te Ching. Lao Tzu over and over admits that none of this is easy. Sometimes we do need to just act, to be 'bold in daring' and perhaps die. Running into a burning building may be suicidal and right action at the same time. Sometimes being ‘bold in not daring’ causes harm. Perhaps enough ‘bold in daring’ people could have prevented the Holocaust. ‘Bold in not daring’ doesn’t let us off the hook to be passive or complacent.

Believe it or not, essay #73 has more ideas to explore, but this feels like a lot to chew on for now. Bite #1: We attract by emitting generous emotions, and Bite #2: Often non-action is the bold choice.

Thank you all for joining me on this excellent adventure! I look forward to reading and responding to your thoughts, questions, and suggestions. Giant Bear Hugs for Everyone!

Mary Carol


  1. Congratulations on the new blog!!!! I feel privileged to be the first to comment. It's a but like being present at the birth of a friend's baby. I shall be Auntie Melody. :)

    I love the idea of doing LOA articles based on the Tao Te Ching. And I agree, this was the perfect one to start with. Understanding that bringing our manifestations to us is not our job, and trying to do so is actually counterproductive, and knowing what inspired action feels like, while trusting that if there is no inspiration that non-action is sometimes the absolute best choice are THE core principles of LOA.

    I love how you mentioned loving everyone and everything. One of the biggest revelations I ever had was that feeling love was entirely in my own control. It was my choice to feel love and once I got that, I started to feel more love in all aspects of my life. I'm not yet to the place where I love everyone and everything 100% of the time, but I'm making huge strides and it feels incredible.

    Sending you huge happy shiny puppy hugs and loads of congratulations,

    Auntie Mel

    1. Thanks Auntie Melody!

      At a retreat last weekend we sang a traditional Mayan song about loving everything, where you substitute a word in each time. We were getting eaten alive by the ants, and Abuela Mayauel (the amazing Mayan medicine woman leading the workshop) sang a verse about loving the ants! It was a great object lesson in loving EVERYTHING! After a good laugh, we all felt better, even about the ants!

      Huge hugs back to you! You know how much I appreciate your support and friendship, Sister!

      Mary Carol

  2. Wow, when you dive in, you dive in! Great first post!

    And your example for the daring action was spot on for me. I've just been dealing with, (and am obviously still thinking about) a comment that was made to me. And my first reaction was not pretty...

    But as your post said, take a step back and look at your reaction and ask why? So I did, and a past experience just jumped up in my mind. One that I had completely forgotten about.

    So now I can take some time and analyze that experience and how it has effected my life, and maybe clear out the emotional trigger it is.

    Thanks So Much!

    1. Thanks Nay!

      I'm glad the post is helpful. As a high school teacher, I learned early on the value of not reacting. We used to call it "selective deafness"! It's a large part of why I was able to enjoy teaching for thirty years.

      Isn't it great when something triggers you, and you get to clear out a piece of resistance? Wouldn't it be wonderful to get to the point where when something goes wrong, you say - woohoo! Now what the heck triggered that?

      Warm hugs, and thanks for joining me on the blog!

      Mary Carol

  3. What a great idea for a blog! So now you've raised my curiousity and I'm going to have to find myself a copy of the Tao Te Ching (I have the Tao of Pooh, but I don't think that counts!).

    This concept of choosing "right action" or non-action over just action for the sake of action is interesting, and I'm going to have to think about that some more. I'm kind of in a weird place right now with a lot of "stuff" swirling around in my head and all around me. There are major changes that I would like to make, and, since I'm a big fan of Mike Dooley's work, I've been telling myself that I need to "take action" in order for the Universe to be able to help me manifest the changes I want. My understanding of Mike Dooley's stuff is that *any* action is better than no action. He says that even if you start moving in the wrong direction, at least you're moving and giving the Universe a chance to step in. (One of my favourite quotes is "all roads lead to where you want to go".)

    The problem has been, that I just don't know *what* action to take, or maybe it's that there are so many possible actions that I don't know where to start. I feel like I'm stalled. Or I start pushing myself to do something, accomplish something, get something done, and I just cannot muster up the enthusiasm to keep to it for more than 15 minutes.

    Case in point: my husband took the kids on a little trip this weekend, and, because I'm home full time with two very young kids now and can't seem to get anything done while looking after them, I *should* be taking full advantage of this alone time and working my butt off on business-related stuff (making jewelry, photographing and posting items, preparing for an upcoming show, writing posts for my sadly neglected blogs). But all I've done is procrastinated. Housecleaning. Looking at house listings online. Catching up on blogs I haven't had a chance to read lately. Drinking a cup of coffee while sitting down, in *silence*...

    So, I guess the question is, how do you know what "right action" is? Normally, I would say it's whatever *feels* right, or best, but what do you do when *nothing* seems to feel right? (Hmmm... I should to go re-read Melody's post about the "void")

    You know what. I think this would be the point at which I should use some of this rare alone time to meditate and "find my place of calm". I think maybe I just need to breathe right now. I am going to go have another cup of coffee and then take a walk. Moving meditation. Helps clear my mind.

    Looking forward to your next post! :-)

    1. Hi Arcana (or is is Dea?),

      Welcome to the blog, and thank you for commenting!

      I love the way you wrote yourself to the "right" action in the course of your comment! If nothing feels like the right action, stop and relax and take a walk. The next right action will come!

      I don't think this is contradictory to Mike Dooley's advice, because of course taking a walk or meditating IS action.

      The image that comes to mind from your comment is that of a bear that needs to hibernate. When I was a single Mom with young kids, and they went to their Dad's for the day, I would often just collapse for awhile. I learned to call it 'hibernating,' which felt like it gave me permission. I still see myself as a bear, and do a hibernating day when I want one.

      Thanks again for writing, and enjoy your day!

      Mary Carol

    2. PS I went to your website, and your jewelry is beautiful! Visit Arcane Dea Design, everybody. Wow!

    3. Thanks Mary Carol! :-)It's actually Nathalie, but I couldn't figure out how to change the default name in the comment -- it just picked my old Blogger profile by default.. lol

    4. Hi Nathalie! Ha ha. Here we are! Now I recognize your photo. Are you still in Ontario? I lived in Vancouver, BC, for 27 years, and love Canada. Hug! Mary Carol

    5. Yep. Still in Ottawa. I didn't know you were from Canada -- guess I just assumed you were originally from the States! Hugs to you, too! :-)

    6. I was born in the US, then moved to Canada at 19. Later, back to the US, and now living blissfully in Colima, Mexico. If it gets too cold up there, pack up the family and come for a visit, or come by yourself if you want to get away from it all. (That's a serious invitation, my dear!) Mary Carol

    7. Hey Nathalie,

      Your first comment is almost exactly where I am at! That stalled feeling where nothing keeps my interest for more than half an hour, if I'm lucky. And nothing seems to feel right for me either.

      Haven't found the answer yet, but am dealing with it. So like you I am letting myself be in the void, and just relaxing with it. Not as easy as you would think, because your mind so often tells you, 'You should be doing something!'

      So I guess I'll just enjoy the void, won't press myself to do all the things I think I 'should' do, and keep knowing the next inspiration is coming.

      Heading over to check out your jewelry now!!

    8. Hi Nathalie and Nay,

      Dealing with the void is an interesting challenge. I think we can productively 'do nothing.' The trick is to feel good about it. When guilt or anxiety kicks in, we've lost the benefit of the relaxing.

      One trick I use on myself is to program in relax time. I 'actively' relax by meditating, mentally listing things I'm grateful for, singing a song to my dog, even doing a puzzle.

      You're both so on the right track! Let me know how it goes.



  4. Hello Nay and Mary Carol,

    I have to tell you, Mary Carol, I did just that. I decided to just be OK with the void, sat down and had a cup of tea and went for a walk. I then proceeded to have the most productive afternoon I've had in a *long* time. There's a project I've been playing around with and planning in my mind for a while, but just couldn't seem to get going on it, and after my walk it was like things just started flowing! I got so much done and have made *huge* strides in getting this new project off the ground! It's funny how when you stop trying to force yourself to be productive it just seems to come naturally. I'm so proud of me! :-)

    P.S. Mary Carol -- if you're OK with it, could I ask you something offline? If you use the contact form on my web site we can exchange email addresses without posting them for the spambots to pick up...

    1. Hi Nathalie (and Nay),

      That's so awesome! Relax, relax, relax. Isn't it sweet that the best advice is also so easy and enjoyable? Congratulations on making so much progress on your project!

      I'd love to correspond with you privately, and will send you an email in a minute.


      Mary Carol

  5. Does this mean that when we want something, its created in the non physical? But it stays there..and to bring it into the physical we need to align and drag it out?

    1. Hi shbni,

      I don't think of the LoA exactly that way. To me, everything already exists, created by its own energy, not ours. What we do is align with that energy, and what we desire is attracted to our energy, kind of like by a magnet. Like attracts like, so for example happiness attracts more happiness. We can't actually attract physical things specifically, but we can attract the emotion that they make us feel, and when the emotion is clear, strong, and specific, it can feel as though we attracted the object. This is why gratitude and appreciation work so well at creating overall abundance. The Universe keeps sending us more and more opportunities to feel grateful!

      Hope that helps. Thanks for asking! Hugs,

      Mary Carol

      PS Sorry about the background color. I'm trying to fix it.