But if you think that only what is yours is yours, and that what is not your own is, just as it is, not your own, then no one will ever coerce you, no one will hinder you, you will blame no one, you will not accuse anyone, you will not do a single thing unwillingly, you will have no enemies, and no one will harm you, because you will not be harmed at all.
– Encheiridion 1
Indeed, I have heard that
One who is good at preserving life
does not avoid tigers and rhinoceroses
when he walks in the hills;
nor does he put on armor and take up weapons
when he enters a battle.
The rhinoceros has no place to jab its horn,
The tiger has no place to fasten its claws,
Weapons have no place to admit their blades.
Now, What is the reason for this?
Because on him there are no mortal spots.
– Tao Te Ching (50)
I feel like these two passages are saying the same thing, that entanglements in the world trap us and make us vulnerable, and that conversely, that by simplifying our lives, we can eliminate these points of weakness that bring us harm and can build a foundation for happiness. This is the first step towards happiness, the letting go, a withdrawal of the self into the self. In order to grow, we must first be reduced, until only the essential remains, for without a secure foundation, the growth will be unstable and shall easily collapse beneath its own weight.
Suffering is the weeds in the garden of happiness. It chokes everything else and consumes its resources. This is why its elimination must be the first step in the path. Conversely, a right understanding of the world yields the end to suffering, for nothing that can harm us shall lie outside of our will, and all that lies outside the will can do us no harm. Look to what distresses you and you will see an unnatural affection, a disorder with the nature of hte universe and a perversion of the will and the self.
Thus, it is imperative to seek simplicity in every exercise of the will, and secondly to give careful thought to every anxiety so that the nature of its cause might be rightfully understood and properly ordered in relationship to what lies within us.