Taoist Canon: Don’t Do Anything You Don’t Have To

The simplest, easiest Taoist advice ever imagined:

“Don’t do things you don’t have to do.”

Seems easy right? Not that easy apparently, for some.

Allow me to share some insights on this ‘Verse I have absorbed during my time here.

If you wake up in the morning and read The New York Times, and then get upset at something you read? You just caused yourself unnecessary stress, right? Had you not read that article, you would not now be upset, would you? Nobody forced you to read something stressful and start off your day upset, yes?

Then you register in order to comment, purely because you saw some comments in the comments section, under an anonymous handle, and flame away to vent your anger at someone who was wrong on the internet, according to you and your ego. Congratulations on causing yourself even more easily avoidable elevated stress hormones. Nice going.

You just broke the easiest of simple measures to avoid causing stress for yourself (and others), in favor of getting upset over something which, to be frank, really does not matter across the grand cosmic scope of things. That’s pretty stupid, actually.

You are now on the Path to being a troll, for no really excusable reason on a therapist’s couch. How did trolling and flaming, diminish your stress, while simultaneously leaving a digital wake that betrays the fact that you are essentially, stirring up trouble, for no reason other than your own gratification. That’s pretty infantile.

Let’s take this one step further, shall we? Now what if, instead of taking a break after trolling for an hour or two, you recruit more friends to help you troll harder, for that victorious sense of crushing someone else on the internet battlefield, Enlightened you are Not.

Far from it.

Now imagine, the next day, you go back to that same article, and find that the woman you were arguing with, left some smart rebukes for you. Well! Can’t have that! She didn’t learn the first time and now it is time to Get Serious on her. So you start stalking her on social media under alias accounts, purely to keep attacking and scoring yourself points.

Enlightened, you are not.

And you keep violating the Simplest Wisdom, “Don’t do things you don’t have to do,” left unsaid is: “that stresses me or others out”. Right?


Then she recruits some of her friends to help her, and after even more snarky or biting comments from her, that’s it. She has to die.


Why can’t you let it go and walk away? Why do you have to keep attacking, over something you never even had to read or get upset about in the first place?

The Tao Te Ching was written by a wise, cynical, but truly Enlightened person (or persons goes some theories). Lao Tse even says in another ‘Verse in the book,

“It’s so easy, yet few ever get it.”

About Jane

Ms. Alexander. author, activist, artist
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