Tao Te Ching (Chapter 18)
When the great Tao is forgotten,
Kindness and morality arise.
When wisdom and intelligence are born,
The great pretence begins.
When there is no peace within the family,
Filial piety and devotion arise.
When the country is confused and in chaos,
Loyal ministers appear.
(By Lao Tsu, translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)
The essence of this chapter is that only an experiential, living relationship with the Tao can lead to true wisdom. Societal “shoulds” around the proper way to practice morality result in the “great pretence.” The societal “shoulds” or collective opinions about trading abound with each of the various trading systems and trading methodologies touted as the “holy grail.” What is forgotten (“When the great Tao is forgotten”) is that each trader has to discover his or her unique way of trading. This discovery is aided and even directed by the Tao.
System or Straightjacket
Fitting a trader into a system just makes a trader frustrated. And if the trader experiences mainly losses using the system, then the trader can blame the system and is resolved of personal responsibility. Not only are there losses without character development but with a system designed by someone else, there’s no hope for personal responsibility much less personal development. Systems are like straightjackets; they immobilize a trader’s spontaneity, creativity and freedom of choice.
The Golden Thread
Following the way of the Tao is like entering a labyrinth. The way is clouded, uncertain, and without form or structure. The way can be tricky. So like Theseus you’d better accept the gift of a ball of golden thread from Ariadne (the feminine) in order to find your way back out of the labyrinth. The golden thread is your path through life as well as your path through the mystery of trading.