Learning is open-ended. Seeking is end-oriented. The tao should not be confused with seeking nor passivity. It is not a surrender to the stream of circumstances. In the internal martial arts that pattern themselves after the tao, one does not let an opponent dominate them, but neither does one resist them. One learns to incorporate their pattern into one’s own by making a space where it can become redirected and reabsorbed into more inclusive harmonies.
In more scientific terms, this is the difference between, on the one hand, merely resonating with a particular movement and, on the other hand, a harmonic inclusiveness that lets the off-beat rhythm find a space within a mutating pattern that is harmonically enriched by the challenge of difference. Tension is crucial to life. Our desire to be free from it is what creates the stream of time and entropy, the flow towards death. But there is always a greater polarity behind every seeming exhaustion of difference. The tao is in finding the eternal dance of polarities that never exhausts itself into the tributaries that flow away from tension towards the little deaths resulting from attachment to circumstances.