He responds only when moved, acts only when he is urged, and rises to action only when he is compelled to do so.
– Chuang Tzu
The Taoist acknowledges his inherent limitations and how much effort it takes to develop one’s mind, body and spirit. As such, Lao Tzu’s philosophy recommends dedicating all of one’s energy towards achieving personal contentment and not waste precious time interfering with others. This means not trying to change things that do not bring tangible personal benefits. For example, Taoists remain uninvolved in politics because attempting to improve society wastes focus, time and energy with little personal gain. But there is a deeper implication too: Taoists let things achieve harmony on their own, according to their natural traits. By interfering, even in the name of “improvement,” well-intentioned efforts may actually remove a phenomenon from its natural course — and ultimately cause harm. Finally, Lao Tzu’s mantra of non-interference is not a prescription for passiveness. For when something or someone threatens the Taoist (interfering with him), he “rises to action” using the reserve power accumulated by not interfering with others.