I just finished re-reading the Tao Te Ching (translation by Stephen Mitchell) and in reading the notes at the end, there were two good stories I wanted to share.
Honoring the Tao means respecting the way things are. There is a wonderful Japanese story (adapted here from Zenkei Shibayama Roshi’s A Flower Does Not Talk) which portrays this attitude:
A hundred and fifty years ago there lived a woman named Sono, whose devotion and purity of heart were respected far and wide. One day a fellow Buddhist, having made a long trip to see her asked, “What can I do to put my heart at rest?” She said, “Every morning and every evening, and whenever anything happens to you, keep on saying, ‘Thanks for everything. I have no complaints whatsoever.'” The man did as he was instructed, for a whole year, but his heart was still not at peace. He returned to Sono, crestfallen. “I’ve said your prayer over and over, and yet nothing in my life has changed; I’m still the same selfish person as before. What should I do now? Sono immediately said, ” ‘Thanks for everything. I have no complaints whatsoever.'” On hearing these words, the man was able to open his spiritual eye, and returned home with great joy.
And the second story:
A poor farmer’s horse ran off into the country of the barbarians. All his neighbors offered their condolences, but his father said, “How do you know that this isn’t good fortune?” After a few months the horse returned with a barbarian horse of excellent stock. All his neighbors offered their congratulations, but his father said, “How do you know that this isn’t a disaster?” The two horses bred, and the family became rich in fine horses. The farmer’s son spent much of his time riding them; one day he fell off and broke his hipbone. All his neighbors offered their condolences, but his father said, “How do you know that this isn’t good fortune?” Another year passed, and the barbarians invaded the frontier. All the able-bodied young men were conscripted, and nine-tenths of them died in the war. Who can tell how events will be transformed?