A rain storm does not last all day. Who makes it? Heaven and Earth.
If Heaven and Earth cannot go on and on, can Man really do so?
So one who follows the Tao accords with the Tao.
One who follows Te accords with Te
One who loses it follows loss
One who follows the Tao, the Tao happily receives
One who follows Te, Te happily receives
One who follows loss, loss happily receives
If faith is weak, faith won’t come.
There might seem to be a bit of a jump between the first two lines and the rest of this chapter. However, the first two use an analogy that implies the basic spirit of the whole book, which is about according with truth and actual nature and not setting oneself up, through conceit, for failure, and this is what is then spelt out in the remaining lines. Mankind should not try to outdo Heaven and Earth. To do so is hubris that will inevitably bring disaster. We might think that this is a rather telling message to our current civilisation.
At the same time, faith does actually require a commitment. The last line implies that in those who have faith, faith grows even stronger, but in those whose faith is weak, there is a tendency to lose even what they have. In this last line the character 信 (shinjin in Japanese) occurs twice. The moral is somewhat similar to the haiku of Honen:
The light of the moon
shines into every hamlet in the land, yet
only those who turn to gaze upon it
then carry it in their heart.
There are many situations in life when we have a options to act with or without faith. At such points, there is an element of choice and much follows from the option that one chooses. Such occasions arise adventitiously. This means that the spiritual path can never be brought under one’s own control, except at such turning points, and, in their nature, even at these points, “control” does not mean that one can command the outcome. It is more like the point of jumping out of an airplane. Before you do it you do not know where you will land. The parachute opens, the wind blows and sooner or later you end up somewhere; somewhere you would never have been if you had not jumped.
So the chapter is telling us that there is a certain natural tendency or grain in existence. If one follows the Tao, it will receive you happily, but it is up to you. In other religions it might be said that if you turn to God, God will receive you, or, if you turn to the Buddha, Buddha will be happy to receive you. It is the same principle. Different faiths wrap it up in different terminology, but the Tao is always working.
Similarly, we can very easily set ourselves up for loss and failure. Here, this means, of course, spiritual failure. Earthly satisfactions, however, tempting, bear no comparison with the inner peace that comes when one is in accord with the nature of things. These days there is much talk of stress relief, but why create so much stress in the first place? It is not medicine or treatment that we require but a change of heart toward a simpler, more honest approach to life.