This is one in a trilogy of versions of the Tao Te Ching that includes The Parent's Tao Te Ching and The Sage's Tao Te Ching. Here William Martin reinterprets this classic for couples.
It is not easy to maintain an intimate relationship in a culture where change, speed, and constant comparisons are the name of the game. Martin notes:
"The love relationship between two people can be the most rewarding and enlightening adventure possible. It can also be the most painful and disappointing of all experiences. The difference between these two extremes can sometimes be a subtle shift in understanding and perception. The ability to love and be loved in natural and satisfying ways lies within each of us. But modern society has overlaid this natural ability with layer upon layer of rules, expectations, and myths until our relationships have become merely one more of the myriad things we have to 'do right' in our complex lives. The natural and gentle principles revealed in the Tao Te Ching have become lost in the fog. I believe the recovery of these principles is of the utmost importance for lovers in our world."
Lao Tzu's poetic wisdom is evergreen and here it is applied to such themes as the heaven of the moment, see clearly, worry creates walls, confidence, illumination, live your emotions fully, the gift of self, room to breathe, perfection and knowing how to dance.
Here is an example of Lao Tzu's wisdom applied to affection:
"When your beloved delights you
you respond with affection
a smile, a hug, a touch of the hand
gently on bare skin.
But when your beloved disappoints you,
can you still respond with affection?
Can you still open your arms, hold tenderly,
caress healingly, and talk lovingly?
This affection is genuine.
It does not depend
on the behavior of others.
It lies within you at all times.
Can you see each other at your very worst
and respond in love to what you see?
Can you see the lost and lonely child,
hiding behind the unpleasant behavior?
Can you hear the pleas for tenderness?"