The Power of Te
Cultivate the Power Within
Chinese classical philosophy evolved from an exploration of the ancient idea of Tao, where te or “the natural power in me” develops as the individuating principle or the idea of Tao active in each creature.
Meng Tzu (Mencius 371-289 BC) described te:
“Such is the nature of this energy that it is immensely great and immensely strong; when it marries naturalness with truth, one dwells in peace and makes contact with it like a bubbling spring.”
The Taoists presented a Back to Nature philosophy for living. Since the order and harmony of nature was more meaningful than any system of thought constructed by man, one sought the simplicity of existence, and followed the natural Way. Observing how nature silently produced the myriad of plant and animal life without apparent effort, the masters applied this same sense of ease to daily life.
Experience is our teacher. From the perspective of growth, all things are led to fulfill their unique nature, and one does not fight the very force that gives this essence definition. Since the Way carves away unnecessary layers - polishes and refines te - the Tao te Ching is translated to mean a book that cultivates te or virtue when one follows Tao.
Wu wang, ‘not attached,’ and wu wei, ‘taking no unnatural action’ heightens the cultivation of te because we are more observant how experience gives our unique nature definition. Unattached to the past and not creating the response, the master said:
“I alone, am inactive and reveal no signs;
listless as though I have no home to go back to.”
The home we would have gone back to, is the paradigm that might trap the expression of our te. As our instinctual and natural connection to life, when cultivated alongside of fearlessness, te is like water that finds its own course, without any sense of barriers. Water can dissolve mountains and evens out, regardless of where it flows. The power of te connects us with the germinating power of life. Transcending the gate or ‘the illusion of obstacles,’ leads to a type of paradise in consciousness. This paradise is simply a place without boundaries.
A change in perspective allows us to see obstacles as the banks of a great river that moves ever forward. Even when we fail, we are left with something that becomes necessary for our growth. When we re-evaluate the obstacle: “dimly visible, it only seemed as if it were there.”
Life has been committed to our success since the beginning.
To take no action that is unnatural to our instinctive nature, and to act with original sincerity, something that is better cultivated in solitude, rather than through the response of others, ensures that we meet with no resistance.
“The sheerest whiteness seems sullied. The great vessel takes long to complete.” The great vessel holds our te as we travel through the river of life. Te is not the virtue that develops from moral rectitude; it is the creative power that comes from spontaneous and natural expression. If the character is authentic, one becomes, quite by accident, authentically effective.
“Because this power is most true, within it there is confidence.” This confidence creates the magnetism that makes a great leader.