“The way to do is to be.” Lao Tzu


This is my favourite quotation in this book (anywhere, actually).  It encapsulates the true essence of becoming either something or someone in this life.  Most people target a profession they want to follow.  Everything is in the future.  A teenager says they want to be a great pianist when they grow up.  They practice constantly chasing their dream.  I believe this kind of striving, this attitude, should be turned upside down.  The teenager should believe that they are already a (great) pianist.  That is who they are.  Some of the greatest artists, scientists and sports people knew, from an early age, exactly what they would become in adulthood.  That’s because it was, who they were already...somehow, in a strange way, they knew it, like an acorn “knows” it will be an oak tree one day. It was innate.

Lao Tzu’s quote also works for love and marriage.  Too many people treat love as if it were an adjective.  They keep expecting it to “happen” to them – just like in the movies (an industry which has done a good job of distorting real love).  The path to true love is turning the concept into action.  Love is a verb.  To be in love is to love someone/others… and requires effort.

To illustrate my argument let’s move some words around in Lao Tzu’s quotation.  “The way to be is to do.”  This version of the saying has been attributed to both Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche.  It also encapsulates the key to true love.  The way to being in love is by loving someone.  Act with love and you’ll find love will grow in you. You’ll also find that you will be loved in return, sometimes in greater measure, and if you’re fortunate you’ll land within that magical reciprocal state between two people. 

The way to do is to be.  The way to be is to do. The way to being in love is by loving someone.