Part of the reason I couldn’t understand Lao Tsu at first was that what he addresses is difficult to put into words. It is beyond the limited concepts of the human mind. Lao Tsu hints at it. He suggests it, quietly, simply. He knows that if you think you know the answer, you haven’t really seen the immensity of It All. It is a philosophy of humility and surrendering the human need to control everything.
I was raised in a religious tradition that placed heavy judgments on sinful behavior. Also we were evaluated about how loving and pure we were. Lao Tsu was not as concerned with moral and value judgments. He wasn’t interested in judgments at all, because he saw they are human-based, relative to each culture, and are changeable. Instead, he advised us to go with the flow. Don’t resist life. Be like the river. In this way, we will find happiness and inner peace.
I could see that following the Tao, people would behave in a naturally compassionate and decent way—not because they are being judged by The Man in the Sky, but because it is the simplest way that leads to the least amount of drama and unhappiness. This gave me tremendous freedom and allowed me to break away from the frightening idea that God was watching me all the time and taking notes on how evil I was, so I could be punished later.