Many websites have tried to update the ‘meaning’ of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching over the centuries. My version came to me over a few weeks in May 2000 and was published in China six years later in 2006. The below entries are my own book on the Tao Te Ching “Thoughts on becoming a Sage” . Additional entries that follow with additional excerpts from Wang Pi and other scholars and writers promoting the Tao hopefully will lead to better understanding of the Way of Virtue.
Dan’s Notes: The narrative below in both English and Chinese is as published in China in 2006. The pictures have been added here to the website and were taken exclusively by the author during his travels over the years in China. They are primarily from four historic locations that pertain to Taoist history, religion and culture. Qingyang Mountain and the nearby Dujian Waterworks, Qingyang Taoist Temple, and the Wuhan Temple in Qingdao. Additional pictures from around China may be interchanged to replace some of the pictures here to better tell the story.
Thoughts on becoming a Sage – the Guidebook to leading a virtuous Life
This book represents a personal commitment to gaining a further understanding as to how Lao Tzu and his Tao Te Ching fits into the modern sense of what it means to be seen or considered as a sage,. The traditional meaning of the sage has had a special meaning and connotation reserved for one of great insight and learning throughout Chinese history.
Usually attributed to the great Taoists teachers Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu and Confucius, the term generally refers to one of great learning and insight who becomes a teacher of valuable lessons as to the way people should conduct their lives.
Thoughts on becoming a Sage represents the author’s interpretation of the Tao Te Ching in a personalized style that illustrates the way of virtue and steps one would take in seeking out those attributes most resembling a “sage like” lifestyle and ways to live in the secular world.
The paradox being that one cannot see oneself as a sage in the here and now… This would be seen as presumptuous. One simply aspires to see beyond himself and whatever his shortcomings may be and in doing so he can catch glimpses of his highest endeavor and destiny.
Just as there is an underlying or unity of philosophical religious teachings throughout the world, as shown by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, Mohammed of Medina, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Mencius, Confucius, and others, one who emulates or strives to live a life of virtue sees past self imposed religious differences and intolerance found in the world around him.. They see the likeness in everyday activities where virtue, or man’s highest endeavors, are reflected and accepted as universal truths; i.e., that we are all God’s children. It is when one reflects on his or her place in the scheme of things reaching an understanding of where they fit into this unity found in nature that the journey begins for real.
In a previously published book about the I Ching, (An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond), the author began this series about early Chinese history and philosophy in an effort to bridge seeming differences that are in reality non-existent.
In Chinese history there was an individual who lived in the sixth century during the Tang Dynasty that epitomized this universal sense of collective spirit and wisdom. Li Fang saw the need for Confucius teachings to be seen as compatible with Taoism, the teachings of Lao Tzu and Buddhism the teachings of Loashan Buddhism that was prevalent at the time. He professed to an understanding that all religions followed a core belief of a singular God. All religions simply served as the mechanism to help people get to a similar place and that no one process was necessarily better than another. Each simply the process of finding and following one’s natural inclination to nurture a personal relationship with God.
To begin to understand Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, you must first begin by understanding what he meant by the Tao, or what is commonly referred to as the way or path one should follow throughout one’s life. The way defines one’s path to ultimate reality. Although Lao Tzu continually throughout the Tao Te Ching re-affirms he does not know it’s true name, without a name it simply becomes the way, or better known as the “way of virtue. Albeit serving to find one’s ultimate path…
That ultimate reality is to reach a commonality
or understanding of one’s place in the physical universe, known as heaven and earth, and relationship with all things in it or what is commonly referred to or known as the ten thousand things. The author’s understanding of Taoism as reflected in today’s culture and society, is illustrative of a sense that the Tao does not simply give birth to all things. It continues to remain present in each individual thing as a power or energy. In a truly religious sense we refer to it as one’s eternal spirit or soul, or qi (chi). As the Tao manifests within an individual, it can remain static or awaken the person midstream to question his or her role, and what they are to be doing once they awaken to their true endeavor and destiny. Possibly even to grow in a certain way in tune with their true nature. Finding this one can develop their religious identity identifying with the path most comfortable for each individual.
It is not the intent of the author to repeat another “interpretation” of Lao Tzu’s Te Tao Ching in the pages that follow. This has been done quite well and successfully by numerous other writers throughout the ages. This book focuses on the sage, and the art and process of becoming the sage. Especially furthering the sense of the virtuous or “perfected man” that has been common in the writings of Chinese literature and scholars throughout the ages. It has been through the Te Tao Ching or “way of virtue” that the window to one’s soul has been found enlightenment through an appreciation of Taoist beliefs for over two thousand years in China. It is this continuity or connection between Buddhism, Taoism and Confucius that brings one to understand where and how everything fits together. A true sense of heaven and earth and finding one’s place in the ten thousand things remains very real today in China.
In western philosophy and religion, there has always been more intolerance and the need to convert others to a particular belief, theirs…. This is illustrated best by the tendency of Christianity to feel the need to convert others as their way is the only path one could follow to God., hens the historic sense of need for missionaries. However, as Christianity in China today has grown to represent a more practical application where assimilation is more important to its ongoing current success, appreciation of and for other beliefs continues to grow.
That we are all God’s children and that we each have the opportunity to seek and find our “inner virtue” or true selves is extremely relevant today. There will also be more that connects us than that may separate us. It will be those who can assist in putting it all together that may be seen as the ultimate sage today.
Dan C DeCarlo a/k/a Kongdan October 8, 2005
丹•德卡罗 a/k/a 孔丹 ２００５年１０月８日
While there are many to thank when a book such as this is published in two languages for multiple audiences, I must first give thanks to the ultimate source for my inspiration. Many times I have referred to the founders of Taoism (Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, and Lieh Tzu) as the source of what I see as my divine guidance. I have always felt their assuming the role of the dragon in Chinese history and culture has equated them with the deity. Assisting and helping people to find their true path, then just as important continuing to help them along their own personal journey.
To follow the Tao, requires a strong independent belief in God. For me, this has equated into a universal sense unity where everyone everywhere has an opportunity to “find their place” in the scheme of things. This book in many ways illustrates one person’s attempts to emulate or mirror within himself these highest endeavors and destiny that may help to define an ultimate purpose. Acknowledging this higher presence in the universe, beyond any seeming religion, serves as the beginning point or benchmark necessary to finding this purpose. Doing so has assisted in building bridges and has led to breaking down barriers that might otherwise get in the way.
Two ministers have been primarily responsible for my own growth both in Florida and the western Shandong Province in China. Reverend Nancy Norman, the minister at Unity of Delray Beach, in Delray Beach, Florida and Reverend Gao Ming from Jining City, China. I owe both a deep sense of gratitude for their inspiration and guidance. Both have helped me to see what the right thing should be in my personal journey and what my next step should be along the way. To both the members of the congregation at Unity of Delray Beach and the Christian Church Association in western Shandong Province I am grateful as well for their continuing inspiration.
My thanks to Mr.Gao Jian, a celebrated calligrapher in Jining in Shandong Province for his illustrations that appear throughout the text and a special thanks to Mr. Binhe Gu for his expert assistance in the translation of my English text to Chinese. His translation and editing of the text has assisted in making my story of the sage more understandable and readable to the Chinese audience.
To all of the above, I give my heartfelt thanks.
Table of Contents
I. Irreverently Meandering Through Time
- Verse 1 – Just one da ti da after another
- Verse 2 – Transforming Realities
- Verse 3 – Preparing the Way
- Verse 4 – Remaining as the Ancestor of all Things
- Verse 5 – Remaining Empty Yet Inexhaustible
- Verse 6 – Accepting My Fate and Ultimate Aspiration
- Verse 7 – Keeping to Heaven’s Promise
- Verse 8 – Taking Shape while Remaining Shapeless
- Verse 9 – Maintaining a Reservoir of Enthusiasm
- Verse 10 – Exposing ever-present but forgotten trains of Virtue
- Verse 11 – Opening Doors while Staying Behind
- Verse 12 – Insuring Final Outcomes
- Verse 13 – Skirting Disgrace and Disaster
- Verse 14 – Staying behind to Impart Immortality’s Wisdom
- Verse 15 – Staying on Course
- Verse 16 – Previous Encounters
- Verse 17 – Governing Wisely
- Verse 18 – When Innocence prevailed and Formlessness
- Verse 19 – Truly Reflecting the Tao
- Verse 20 – On becoming a Sage
- Verse 21 – Forever replenishing our Virtue
- Verse 22 – On Becoming Whole
- Verse 22A– Addendum / Becoming a Beacon of Light for all to see
- Verse 23 – Defining True Objectively
- Verse 24 – Staying with my own Gait
- Verse 25 – Coming Home
- Verse 26 – Preparing for Your Grand Performance
- Verse 27 – Paradox Revealed
- Verse 28 – Maintaining Ancient Virtue
- Verse 29 – Showing the Way while Remaining Behind
- Verse 30 – Winning when you have no Choice
- Verse 31 – Remaining Centered with the Tao
- Verse 32 – The River of Tao runs through me
- Verse 33 – Living Beyond Attachments
- Verse 34 – Knowing no Borders you learn to lead the Way
- Verse 35 – Remaining Humble yet Inexhaustible
- Verse 36 – Hoping Weakness Prevails
- Verse 37 – Upholding the Tao
- Verse 38 – Learning to see beyond Oneself
- Verse 39 – Remaining Centered
- Verse 40 – The Guardian Angel
- Verse 41 – Contending for the Middle
- Verse 42 – Giving Birth to all around You
- Verse 43 – Mirroring the Tao
- Verse 44 – Staying Focused on Oneself
- Verse 45 – Becoming Translucent
- Verse 46 – Prevailing Contentment
- Verse 47 – Becoming endowed by the Way
- Verse 48 – Becoming the Master Weaver
- Verse 49 – Remaining True to Form
- Verse 50 – Evolving with Ever-renewing Purpose
- Verse 51 – Honoring the Way
- Verse 52 – When our virtue becomes us
- Verse 53 – Gently guiding others
- Verse 54 – While Cultivating his garden the world comes Forward to find the Sage
- Verse 55 – Gaining a firm grip on lasting Abundance
- Verse 56 – You must be the Change you want to see in the World
- Verse 57 – Becoming one with the dust of the World
- Verse 58 – Bringing the world along for the ride
- Verse 59 – Remaining as an edge that does not cut
- Verse 60 – The way of long and lasting Life
- Verse 61 – Harmony finding the way
- Verse 62 – Cultivating Humanity
- Verse 63 – Becoming a sanctuary to all you meet
- Verse 64 – Finding everything to easy
- Verse 65 – Learning to act before something exists
- Verse 66 – Reaching Perfect Harmony
- Verse 67 – Thought on remaining a lower presence
- Verse 68 – Rising through the forefront through compassion
- Verse 69 – Conveying the utmost virtue through non-aggression
- Verse 70 – Putting things in order or being the guest at fine banquet
- Verse 71 – Preceding with little or no Fanfare
- Verse 72 – Rising above one’s own Affliction
- Verse 73 – Staying out of the way of my own enlightenment
- Verse 74 – Acceding to the will of heaven
- Verse 75 – Finding our own place under heaven
- Verse 76 – In death the Tao acknowledges the sage
- Verse 77 – Letting your enthusiasm open every door
- Verse 78 – Following the Way of Heaven
- Verse 79 – Being present at destiny’s table
- Verse 80 – Staying in step with the Tao
- Verse 81 – Remaining in High Style
Epilogue – Preparing to return to utter spontaneity
I. Irreverently Meandering through Time
Traveling on the wind once again the sage proceeds as if at home. Remaining above the clouds he looks down, unconcerned. Waiting to see if anything of importance lies beneath him.
Following dragons again and clouds beyond the horizon you reflect on mirror images of yourself and seeing that your destiny lies below. As always when traveling with dragons, you remain irrelevant to time.
Comforted in knowing that your journey and today’s path continues to find peace and harmony and a clearer understanding of your place in the universe, as your destiny remains assured. Events only occurring to move you ever-forward as you meander as if unknowingly through as time.
Your destiny tied to endeavors forever remaining a paradox. As you remain an enigma that others come to depend on for and wisdom taking them to places they otherwise would never go. As you remain a magnet for others simply showing the way.
Returning briefly home again, as if only irreverently meandering through time.
Begin approaching the Te Tao Ching and your mentor Lao Tzu by seeing beyond life’s transparencies as if sorting through the clutter clouding your mind and your way.
Coming to understand that your final destination lies with the angels, or dragons, you have come to know over eons of time and space as you begin to contemplate returning home once again.
Not in the physical sense as if in the here and now, but taking steps to become the sage that belies your destiny. Knowing that true destiny can only be revealed by endeavoring to get it right this time.
It is in this spirit that I come forth to pursue my final unveiling.
1. Verse 1 – Just one big la ti da after another
Encountering constant renewal.
Understanding the paradox living brings each day. That once we find comfort in the way or direction we pursue today, we become aware that this is not the true way we are here to travel.
That when we are free of desire we can see where things begin and when we are subject of desire we can see where things end.
2. Verse 2 – Transforming Realities
The sage transforms his feelings and returns to his true nature thus becoming one with the universe once again.
What displays beauty cannot be beautiful. What is hard must become soft.
He focuses on ending distinction, getting rid of name and form and making of himself a home for virtue.
3. Verse 3 – Preparing the Way
The sage must begin again by daily ritual and purification. You must prepare an area for
optimum meditation and reflection. You must set aside all other activities and thoughts so as to be quiet, still, able to listen and be prepared to learn.
You must instill determination, release all desires, and come to find discipline. When you are ready all will flow unimpeded through you.
You are to become the vessel when and if you remain worthy of the mantle placed upon you. All is within you – everything you need is already here. We have been waiting for you to be fully prepared for the journey.
Clear your mind, cleanse your heart and open your mind and be prepared for the great and auspicious journey to come.
Use every moment to seek clarity. Paying attention to detail brings focus necessary for true learning. Come forward to know thyself and all will become clear.
Now go. But remain vigilant and dedicated to who you are to become. Your endeavors will bring forth your ultimate destiny…
4. Verse 4 – Remaining as the Ancestor of all Things
Reminded constantly to remain empty. To go with the flow letting events carry you onward with no sense of predetermined outcome. Yet shaping everything along the way.
Adjust your light to the crowd and merge with the dust of the world. All the while lifting those around you to otherwise unattainable heights.
Appear to have no ambition, dulling edges and not insisting on anything. Have no fear and display utmost courage thereby untying every knot and avoiding nothing. Remaining as the ancestor of all things. Clear and yielding yet ever-present.
As if close by, but not making any appearances just the same.
5. Verse 5 – Remaining Empty Yet Inexhaustible
Again reminded to remain empty. Quiet and still, as if a bellows only responding to what fits.
Not tied to the present or attached to the past, as if heaven and man were the same lineage. As you continue to guard your inner virtue, or voice from that which would drain you.
To know without needing to know, talk without needing to talk, hear all things without needing to hear. You are simply the essence of the one true spirit contained in all things yet remaining hidden from view.
Too many choices lead to lost chances. Divert not from the path the Tao would have you to follow. Remain in cheerful countenance to all you encounter. Empty yet inexhaustible thereby becoming the voice of eternity.
第5节 恪守虚空 取之不尽
6. Verse 6 – Accepting My Fate and Ultimate Aspiration
Reflect on the words of the ancients when they remind you of the age-old axiom – you are not here to create… you are here to relate.
The ten thousand things all must have their beginning, middle and end. Yet as they continually evolve, they remain never-ending. The cycle remaining true to form and the Tao. Remain as the valley always nourishing that which comes forth to be made new again. What remains empty continues to have form. What has form takes shape and what take shape becomes the ten thousand things.
Everything you need is here waiting to be revealed the moment you are ready to accept your role in filling in the details.
Simply embody the Tao and grow.
7. Verse 7 – Keeping to Heaven’s Promise
Keeping to Heaven’s promise through finding the immortality found on earth. Giving consent without expecting reward. Remaining humble – the only thing the sage seeking is virtue.
Forever creating an environment emulating and promoting the journey you must take to selflessness. As you have been given an opportunity to remain immortal simply by living for today. Truly living through grace.
Becoming adept at remaining in the background while setting the table for all who will come to eat their fill. Constantly reminded of your never-ending destiny as endeavors continue the process of your letting go.
As you remain content with who and where you find yourself. Living, dying and subject to change each moment. As you travel with no sense of age or time.
Reminded again and again that you can only move ahead by staying behind with a cheerful countenance with virtue to be shared by all. The utmost paradox living brings forth to greet you each day.
8. Verse 8 – Taking Shape while Remaining Shapeless
Travel as if you were water taking on every shape that comes your way as you give life to everything and everyone you touch and meet. Conveying the eternal spring that comes forth from you each day as if you were just passing by.
Being content to remain at the bottom of all things – free from blame. Avoiding competition while maligning no one.
Choosing humility and that which no one else chooses to do.
Travel like water as if approaching the unattainable Tao. Remaining clear and deep. Yet constantly emptying to give life to others. Reflecting but remaining pure as you cleanse all that you touch. Having no purpose of you own, assisting truth and helping others to find their natural way as if you were all encompassing, but not really here.
9. Verse 9 – Maintaining a Reservoir of Enthusiasm
Be careful of what you cultivate and prepared to let go of what fills you. Know your obstacles before you enter the room or gate to further knowledge and understanding. As if you were a waterfall, only releasing that which does not define your true motives and destination.
Since fullness leads to emptiness – remain empty prepared to become full again and again. Since sharpness leads to becoming dull, avoid zeal and maintain a reservoir of enthusiasm. Since riches lead to worry and excess avoid calling attention to yourself and maintain value within so that it cannot be taken away. When your task is done treat it as though it were nothing and move on to be reminded of the knowledge of ten thousand things.
As you let your enthusiasm carry the day.
10. Verse 10 – Exposing Ever-present but Forgotten Traits of Virtue
Remember what you have always known. That it is our virtue that lights the universe.
That it is your memory of who you once were and are yet to become that resides in your mind and intellect. As you open your mind to see and know what comes forth, you are simply reminded of what you have forgotten.
That your energies are here to be replenished as you are transformed into the sage whose mind remains still. As you become still once again, you reflect and mirror heaven and earth and the ten thousand things.
You scoff as you know the best way to govern is without governing and using the efforts of others. If you don’t obstruct what the Tao begets at their source and suppress their true nature, things mature by themselves.
Virtue remaining ever-present, its owner unknown until you appear along the way.
11. Verse 11 – Opening Doors while Staying Behind
Remaining empty to become full. Knowing your place is to put all the cards on the table so that the proper path becomes obvious for all to see. Becoming simply the vessel from which all that represents virtue is known, endured and followed as the way by all.
Reminded as our breath ebbs and flows we become full by remaining empty as our mind and thoughts remain the catalyst for change and enlightenment. Our usefulness only determined by the emptiness that fills us. Employing nothing to gain advantage that would allow ego to stand in the way.
As you seek only virtue and leave only vestiges of yourself behind. Your role is to open doors for others as you nurture and prepare them to walk through.
Giving birth to virtue and letting it grow. Nourishing what comes forth without claiming to own them. Remaining as the hub of a wheel… constant, reliable and still, yet ever-present and nonexistent.
第１１节 敞开大门 置身在后
12. Verse 12 – Insuring Final Outcomes
Staying within the realm of what our natural abilities provide as if Chuang Tzu. Drinking from the river of life only that which fills our stomach.
Maintaining an even temperament. Letting events happen for their own sake and remaining unaffected by space and time.
Letting the natural course or order of events simply occur. Knowing the final outcome will be just as it should be. While sitting back as the knowing sage, seemingly unaffected but in control.
Choose internal reality over external illusion.
As your eyes cannot truly see, your ears cannot truly hear, your mouth cannot truly taste, your mind cannot help feeling and your body cannot stop moving.
Let these attributes simply stay in the background and observe as you listen to the still small voice within as you have been taught and nothing can harm you. Do not lose your way because of what has caught your attention.
13. Verse 13 – Skirting Disgrace and Disaster
Be careful not to curry favor with others, as disgrace is soon to follow. Favor and honor
remain external from the true path of the sage.
He prefers to cater to neither, as both remain outside and away from the path he has chosen to follow. Possessing them can only lead to disgrace and disaster.
Seek only that which lies within yourself cultivating your own innate abilities. Remain within and all will follow.
14. Verse 14 – Staying behind to Impart Immortality’s Wisdom
Coming home to visit with old friends, I am made whole again. Everything there is to see I have seen and everything there is to do I have done. I am home again to rest among old friends.
Revisiting the thread that reveals my true identity, I rejoice in the oneness of the universe. I am at peace as one who has found the grace to see what I must do next in His name. Shedding my worn baggage, my friends are reminded of the light cast by my eternal coat as I sit beside them to honor our being together once again.
While most are happy to remain within the confines of enlightenment, others are a little jealous of my desire to return to the world. Where attachments hold one down and keep their owner from attaining their true identity. Just as you are reminded that your path leads back to a place where you can help others to perhaps come forth to seek their own ultimate destiny. As you leave, you catch glimpses that convey warmth and gratitude and knowledge of the ultimate paradox…
Upon my return I begin by weaving together the fabric of shreds of a vision that has yet to become reality. Knowing that neither my light nor my shadow will leave a lasting impression. While what is left behind for immortality’s wisdom will only be known once I have returned home once again.
15. Verse 15 – Staying on Course
Taking stock, you stop to reflect why you are here in this place and time just now.
You have succeeded in getting the attention of many as your reflection has cast a long shadow. You have shown an uncanny ability to uncover the indiscernible and penetrated contradictions previously covered by darkness.
As you become concerned your ego is bringing you to the forefront, while your nature tells you it is better to stay behind.
You are reminded to remain empty and still. That you are not here to make a show of yourself and that you are to leave no tracks. To be so conscience of the correct action that needs to be taken that you simply flow with events. That the essence of the Tao consists of nothing more than taking care, as you know that inner truth cannot be perceived, only the outward form of your actions. That it is by intuitive understanding that the darkness becomes clear and by means of movement the still becomes alive.
That it will be by letting each thought remain detached and each action well considered that your ultimate success is determined with your virtue the only measure taken home.
16. Verse 16 – Previous Encounters
Remaining on course, I return to the place of my youth to reflect on previously self-imposed limits as to who I am ultimately to become, as if a final cleansing of those things that made me full of myself.
Given an opportunity to further release those things that have held me back from identifying and knowing my final destiny. To free myself of endeavors that keeps me full of ego and self-interest.
Once recognized, I can let go and let the dragons, or angels, lead the way without intrusion. Declaring my freedom and turning aside all those things that betray my true path as I declare “free at last, free at last, thank God and the Tao I’m free at last”. Finally letting go of all that has gone before me, I can see the way leads to stillness as the knowing sage. As I let go, my true path is unveiled and my enthusiasm, my greatest attribute that opens the door for all others, becomes totally and completely apparent.
In returning to my roots, I have unconsciously re-discovered the stillness I knew at the beginning. Thereby allowing me to become shapeless once again. Knowing that the path now followed and the endeavors now cultivated can now prevail; I am reminded of my travels with Lieh Tzu.
I feel a great swoosh… As if a great gust of wind has picked me up and carried me closer to my ultimate destiny.
(Written in June 2000 during a trip home to Joplin, Missouri where I grew up. I lived there from the seventh grade through two years of college. 1964-1973).
17. Verse 17 – Governing Wisely
Let your virtue lead the way with others convinced it is their own works that prevail. Lasting success can only occur when those who have looked to you for guidance conclude they have championed their own cause.
What the sage does to cultivate himself is what he does to govern the world. Your greatest virtue is to initiate no action that leave traces of your presence. So that when all goes well people can feel they are responsible.
As long as people think they have achieved greatness by themselves, they have no reason to love, praise or despise anyone.
Simply unveiling the truth and contradictions to virtue will allow others to come forward and for you to remain still. Instilling peace and harmony along the way you can prepare to take them to places they would otherwise forego.
18. Verse 18 – When Innocence prevailed and Formlessness endured
As you contemplate returning tomorrow to the place where it all began to attend a gathering of now distant relatives, you recall time spent on the farm. Returning to the place you originally called home. Returning to the place where you first caught the attention of dragons as a small boy on the farm in Lamar. Back to the beginning, where innocence prevailed and formlessness endured. Before details could enter to cloud your way. You begin to wonder what drew you to the Tao and dragons that were searching for you even then.
You are reminded of the paradox that surrounded you. The beauty and comfort found in nature – found in an old farmhouse at the end of a long circle drive. Everything in nature finding its place. You were affected greatly by opposites that tore at your inner most being. Tearing away the self identity as a small child that would reveal the formlessness of the sage. A difficult transition revealing inequities living seemingly always bring to the forefront. Living in a home with argument and distrust carrying the day, you were encouraged to find security and serenity deep within yourself.
Soon discovering an innate understanding that when names arise from discontent, we find distinctions like kindness, peace and harmony. Attributes formlessness can now find to spring forth and flourish. As such you have now become the conciliator, the mediator who can see through conflict brought forth by envy, ego, lack and mistrust. To those who are unsure of your identity a mystic, to those few who know, perhaps a prophet telling of things yet to come.
Opposites described above affecting you as if you were a blunt piece of metal being hammered into intricate form by blows coming from all sides.
Learning then to look away from good and bad and recognizing that both were the same. So that one day when the dragons would finally get your attention – to carry you to heights previously thought unattainable you would recognize their presence and acknowledge that they had been guiding you all along. Only waiting for the opportune time to show you the path you were to follow. Reminding you of your true identity and responsibility to the Tao.
Now that I have come full circle and returned, cognizant of the road I have traveled and the one before me that I am still to follow, I am assured and thankful that virtue will lead the way.
(Written in June 2000 during a trip back to Joplin and the farm in Lamar where I was a small child. I lived there from 1952 through the sixth grade, the summer of 1964.)
19. Verse 19 – Truly Reflecting the Tao
As I look around to see reflections of the Tao, I am drawn to rediscover what is simple and pure and discard what is considered alien to my original nature. That if wisdom and reason are only used for self-interest then they should be abandoned. Instead collective wisdom and reason should be used to take all to previously unknown heights.
That if kindness and justice are only shells to pursue selfish motives, then putting an end to arrogant kindness and treacherous justice will enable people to unite on their own.
That if our behavior with others is governed by cleverness and profits our innermost nature would be fulfilled more assuredly if we remain focused on that which remains undyed and uncarved as if driftwood washed up from the sea. Understanding the Tao leads us to understand what is real and unreal, what is artificial and inappropriate and remaining wholly within ourselves.
20. Verse 20 – On Becoming a Sage
When yes and no becomes the same answer, perhaps you are ready to discontinue this seemingly natural inclination to retreat into a shell like a turtle…
With virtue intact and your destiny assured perhaps it’s time to live out your true destiny as the sage you have become. Living up to the virtue you know. If inequities are but reflections of your desires – cleanse away those things no longer relevant and spring forth with dynamic hope and optimism. Assured that your next step is pre-ordained by dragons who have been waiting patiently for you to join them.
Fulfill your destiny and live the life of virtue that is so obvious to all you encounter. What others love the sage loves, what others fear the sage fears, but while others may not see anything beyond or outside their own minds – the mind of the sage wanders the Tao.
If you want to inspire others you must remain above what living brings each day. While they choose things, you alone must remain unmoved. Acknowledging all as the same, that there is nothing to be lost or gained. Coming forth you simply live within the Tao and accept becoming the sage.
21. Verse 21 – Forever Replenishing our Virtue
What is this thing called virtue and value placed on emptiness and how can they be so inter-related? That virtue cannot be found unless we are willing to remain empty, that the Tao remains hidden from view except as virtue found through emptiness. Following the Tao, we are continually subject to change and are redefined as our virtue waxes and wanes.
As if guided by the phases of the moon I find structure through tending my garden just as Shen-ming, the divine husbandman, who discovered agriculture along with the healing properties of plants and a calendar to be followed by the sages of long ago. Could it be that virtue is the manifestation of the Tao, or Way, that should guide us? That the Way is what virtue contains and without it could have no meaning or power. That without virtue, the Way would have no appearance or ability to come forward. Taking no form, the Tao takes expression only when it changes into virtue. It is when the sage truly mirrors the Tao that virtue can be given an opportunity to manifest and grow and the natural course, or scheme of things, becomes apparent for all to see.
The Tao by itself neither existing or not existing. As if coming and going as the essence of one’s heart and soul– simply by maintaining its presence as… virtue. Everything in the universe held accountable to the Tao. Continually changing – with our identity the first to go. What was once true becomes false and what was once false slips into becoming true. It is only our essence expressed as virtue that is kept and continually replenished by the Tao.
22. Verse 22 – On Becoming Whole
When all has passed through you – everything becoming the same with no opposites pulling at your attention, then you are free to follow the way of virtue. When you can think and act as if innately following the Tao, you can become whole.
Knowing virtue and honesty are one, you make a list of those things not in keeping with the path you have chosen to follow and begin removing them, as they have become stumbling blocks to completing your endeavors as the sage. Once encountered and accounted for, they disappear and cannot be traced back to their maker.
Continually redefining the role of the traditional sage. Mirroring the Tao, you become adept at sharing your vision instead of simply trusting the word of others. Instead of relying on the strength of others, you take all to otherwise unattainable heights through reluctantly displaying your own strength.
Your enthusiasm and vision carrying the day. Living in paradox, as in reality you prefer to remain hidden from view. You stand apart, not competing hens no one finding a foothold to compete with you.
Remaining steadfast you become whole.
22A. Verse 22 Addendum – Becoming a Beacon of Light for All to See
Could it be that your ultimate role is to report back to the dragons the role of the sage in the here and now? To take the thoughts of Lao, Lieh and Chuang and all the others to places they have not been before and to perhaps try them on for size in a different environment.
That it is not you becoming whole, as much as transitioning this ancient way into current thought and action. As your task remains internally to mirror the Tao, perhaps your role in the here and now is to rediscover for the ages how externally one can remain pure and whole in such a material world. Keeping to eternity’s promise, but making limited appearances just the same.
Challenging the order of the day, you have become the ultimate agent of change and virtue.
Coming forth to claim your place in the universe, you accept the mantle placed upon you with an ever present humble demeanor. As you prepare to move on to accept your greater destiny.
第22节 (补遗) 作众人的指路明灯
23. Verse 23 – Defining True Objectivity
Finding your self in the scheme of things so that there is nothing coming from you except the natural extension of the Tao.
Remaining quiet and speaking in whispered tones so that someone must strain to comprehend what is being said thereby confirming they are paying attention and listening. Letting the natural order of events simply occur with events just waiting in the wings to change what has become comfortable.
Remaining natural, or neutral in effect, your endeavors simply an extension of the Tao. The way means knowing both success and failure and using them to become one. Becoming one by leaving yourself behind to rediscover your true nature ultimately simply a seamless extension of the natural order or scheme of things, as you remain one with the universe with your objectivity leading the way.
If you have looked beyond what success and failure may bring, you can begin to know the proper way!
24. Verse 24 – Staying within my own Gait
Learning to shun those things not in keeping with the proper way. Oh, the challenges and paradox life comes forth to greet me each day. As if life’s indulgences and excesses are extremely happy to continually get in my way and obscure my true path and identity.
Staying within the confines of who I am yet to become. Not standing on tiptoes to see over others or walking faster than my own natural gait. To act as if life’s reflections are translucent and bringing attention to your actions is alien from what motivates you.
“He who watches himself does not appear, he who displays himself does not flourish, he who flatters himself achieves nothing and he who parades himself does not lead”.
As you recall that the mind of the sage remains free of desire and selfless, you are reminded that those who cultivate the Tao yet think about themselves are like people who over eat or over work.
Food is to satisfy hunger, work should suit the task. Ultimately the way of heaven does not depend on offerings or prayers. It is simply who follows the Tao will live long Remember it is as Lao Tzu says and those who lose their way do not.
25. Verse 25 – Coming Home with the Tao
Returning to where you began you find nothing, yet remain complete and indivisible. You are simply one with the Tao.
No true beginning or end, pure and impure seem unimportant, past and future become one, good and bad the same. One with the Tao, you are unsure you exist yet are comforted by the knowledge you will live forever.
As the sage you have learned to stand-alone unwavering, travel everywhere without leaving home as you have seen and done it all before. You have become as if you were everyone and everything’s mother. As you return to the root of where it all began, you have come home to the Tao.
26. Verse 26 – Preparing for Your Grand Performance
Remaining heavy and still always controlling yourself and learning to keep your place.
In stillness you control those who are busy and are undeterred by what is small that cannot hold down something large. In keeping with the path you now travel, keep your words weighty and what you have learned close to your vest.
Travel as if you are the son of heaven with ten thousand chariots at your command.
Remembering all the while that what remains external from your body; success and failure, wealth and honor will be forever fleeting. That it is in stillness that tranquility endures allowing you to remain simply within yourself and your true nature.
Remaining still, the universe comes forth at your command
27. Verse 27 – Paradox Revealed
As things take shape, you seemingly remain shapeless. Out of the way, in a corner out of view. This appears to be the greatest paradox living comes forth to greet me each day. For in emulating the life of the true sage, good appears to flow directly from my every movement. The more I try to push it away, the easier it is to find me. When I promote my vision, or image, of how things should unfold I become further enmeshed in life’s action.
Is this perhaps the underlying reason for your presence here at this moment in time? To come out of the well-worn shell you have insulated yourself into to become the image, or mirror to be held up for all to follow. Becoming a sage precludes the fact that few can follow in the same footsteps. That once you have acceded to the obvious you can truly lead the way. And is that not why you are here?
As you have seen and done it all before, can it matter if attention and attributes you bring forward bring accolades from those around you? Is not the attention you have garnered a prod to assist you to re-define your purpose to insure it is the Tao leading the way? With you simply putting the pieces into place. If good walking leaves no tracks, then perhaps the way should be shown that lessens ego and individual and strengthens community.
If good talking reveals no flaws then perhaps you should let only positive re-enforcement guide your way. If good counting counts no beads, then show how material advantage does not portend the future. If you have closed the door properly behind you it cannot be re-opened as if there were no need for locks and if what has been put in place is secured by your light then there can be no knots to be undone and everything finds its rightful end by relying on their nature not their form.
In staying focused the true path of the sage becomes revealed and his motives defined. He becomes good at saving the day while leaving no one behind. By showing no favorites everyone is allowed to find their natural place. By remaining in the background as others come forth to claim their good they ultimately become as a cloak or outer garment to cover an inner garment thus you continue to remain unseen. As the path becomes clear, the way remains hidden. Your light remains shining, but stays as if above the clouds.
It is in this way you are comfortable in knowing that you are as stated before like water, that you can come forth free from impurity and seemingly without effort. By showing your true likeness, or virtue, others become ready to find their own. Blinded by the light of your reflection in others, you are prepared to gaze off into the distance to places seldom seen or traveled. Forgetting the world, your success only determined if those who have met you have forgotten your name.
28. Verse 28 – Maintaining Ancient Virtue
Showing the way can be likened to being the world’s maid. A job on the surface seeming too menial too even consider that success may follow. Once you’ve recognized your task, the way becomes even more difficult. But it is only by experiencing the tediousness can you begin to advance and rule the day.
Advance as if you have the heart of a child without fear, without knowledge that the task is too big. Thereby always keeping your ancient virtue intact. Simply recognizing that which lies without you while holding onto the oneness within you. Acknowledging what is at its beginning always becomes something else at its end. That once was hard must become soft. That if we are constantly referring to what appears to be black or white, we are in reality seeing them as dark or light and if we see things as pure verses defiled we are acknowledging it as either noble or humble.
Recognizing the above, the task of the sage becomes easy. By adhering to what is soft, humble and dark the essence of the Tao is always close at hand.
Advance as if you were an uncarved piece of wood waiting to be molded into what is needed with no pre-conceived outcome of what may occur. Always guided by what comes forth without limits, with the Tao always in charge.
While acting as a master tailor, sewing without seams, the job of the maid suddenly comes forth with ease and grace. The job becoming second nature as you have mastered it fully with your virtue leading the way.
29. Verse 29 – Showing the way while remaining Behind
It is in stillness that the sage comes forth to govern the world. He has learned that it cannot be controlled consciously and that we must learn to trust what comes naturally. That human strength and/or knowledge cannot lead us and that it is our spirit must govern us.
That nothing can be governed by force, that it is in stillness that spiritual things respond and that which is considered spiritual does not act on its own, but is guided by the Tao. When force comes into play, what is real leaves the field.
Remain transitory with your surroundings only as temporary lodging. Having no stake in the outcome you are able to determine what is not yours, lose your way, or forget why you are here.
Staying at the highest point of mediation letting all things come forth to find their place, the sage is at his best when he does not oppose things. Simply by letting the spirit of oneness penetrate the nature of others, he responds to them without force and follows them without effort.
He eliminates what confuses them, hens their minds become clear and each person finds their place in the scheme of things to come. By remaining calm and still letting the spirit guide your way you focus on simplicity, remaining content and eliminate extremes. It is with kindness and humility you succeed and it is with all three every situation bows to your command.
30. Verse 30 – Winning when you have no Choice
The Tao teaches us to win with our integrity intact. To let our spiritual fortunes guide the way. To be so caught up in the final outcome that it is only natural that events and success will follow. That the foremost law of the universe is that we reap what we sow and that what we cultivate comes back to rule the day.
In keeping with your role as remaining at the foremost point of mediation you have come to a few basic tenants. First is an understanding of what it takes to win without using force. That it is better to win, then stop – letting common sense prevail. Next to win with your humility intact letting everyone take credit for the outcome. Third, to win without being cruel to another, giving them the victory as well. And finally, to win when you have no choice.
Ultimate victory occurring when you appear to prosper, but remain poor. Become full yet seem empty. Keep virility at arms length thus remaining forever young and allowing death to make no appearances.
The knowing sage ages without growing old.
31. Verse 31 – Remaining Centered with the Tao
Learn not to expand your energies or passion on things of little or no consequence. Remaining still and reserved as if you are pre-occupied with your own enthusiasm. To those around you, simply smile at what living brings to greet you each day and to trouble say ah so!
Not as one considered as self-centered, but as Tao centered spreading your joy and laughter to all you meet. Letting joy for knowing your place in the universe become your foremost point of engagement.
Learn not to let situations control you. Instead, remain in control by not allowing events to cloud your vision as you lead others with dispassion, humility and self-control.
When you can respond as if events were gnats, too small to even notice, then you may begin to see over the next horizon as your destiny becomes clear…
32. Verse 32 – The River of Tao runs through Me
Going through each chapter of the Tao Te Ching is as if a river is running through me. Cleansing my heart, clearing my head and satisfying my soul. As if I have become nameless and my body non-existent as I become one with the Tao. Living the life as the true sage as the Tao becomes me. I am forever transformed.
The Way becoming simple and clear as the natural extension of your every action. Focusing on what remains small and beyond command by others except for appearance sake. When you expand, however, it is as if you are everywhere. You become both heaven and earth combining as one.
Embracing the simple and working without effort, my true nature remains unburdened as material things and desires run through me and dissolve as if they were never really there. Showing the way, but leaving others to discover the Tao for themselves.
You appear as if dew leaving no trace. Given a name you become distinct. Showing restraint and finding no trouble your true purpose has run its course.
33. Verse 33 – Living Beyond Attachments
Proceeding unconsciously, as if you are only following the whims of the Tao and playing the role that you are here to play. Knowing your place is secure and you destiny to one-day return to live with dragons is assured.
What then can occur in the here and now but to live fully enmeshed in the Tao and to be sure you complete the role you are here to play. As if to live beyond attachments while continuing to pursue your final destiny.
The sage becomes wise by knowing himself and remaining perceptive of others by only being concerned about conquering himself and not others.
By striving to succeed at his endeavors and knowing contentment as his definition of being wealthy. Not losing his place thereby living forever.
34. Verse 34 – Knowing no Borders you learn to lead the Way
Living each moment in virtue through grace, while remaining unrestrained in every thought, action and deed. Coming across to others as neither weak nor strong or right or wrong, so that you may respond to all things and move them in any direction.
Knowing no borders and remaining neutral. In control, but letting everything find its own course just the same. Simply doing what you do best as if you are drifting through time. With no predetermined destination you go everywhere, see everything using the Tao as your compass and oar. Continuing by grace so that you go without bringing attention to yourself, never speaking of your power or mentioning your achievements as you endeavor to remain small.
Never acting great, but doing great things. Everything eventually coming before you as you let each go by seemingly out of your control. Recalling Chuang Tzu and his refrain that the Tao has no borders. As you sit back watching as the world comes to your doorstep.
35. Verse 35 – Remaining Humble Yet Inexhaustible
Holding onto the true image of myself with humility, comity and grace I remain humbled by what the Tao places before me. As I recommit my entire essence to only promoting that which comes forth as the greater image or vision that I am here to complete all the while knowing that my highest aspiration can succeed only with the success of all around me.
As the world comes forth to greet me each day, I remain protected, as I have no form thereby beyond whatever harm may come my way. I remain safe, serene and as one with the Tao. Eventually everything coming before me as an equal, I walk guided by selflessness as all things come to me. As I remain one with all things. While forgetting myself in others, others forget themselves in me. Therefore everyone finds his or her place and no one is not at one with me.
Keep only to the plain and simple drawing people closer as you entertain with images of the Tao.
Remaining at the point of inquiry, with no one quite sure how to love or hate, with no shape, taste or sound with which to please others. Remaining enmeshed in the Tao your role can never be exhausted.
36. Verse 36 – Hoping Weakness Prevails
What you would shorten you should lengthen instead. What you would weaken you should spend your time strengthening. What you would topple, you should raise and what you would take you should spend your time giving.
Most importantly do not abandon your weaknesses as it will be through your weaknesses that your strengths will prevail and endure.
The sage hides his light so it can be kept safe and secure. While cultivating the Tao he speaks softly and with care. Just as a fish cannot survive out of water, the sage’s greatest asset is not meant to be seen but should remain in humble and non-intimidating surroundings. Keeping still as in a deep pool he remains unknown to the world.
37. Verse 37 – Upholding the Tao
Practicing the art of nameless simplicity I go forth with no desires and nothing on my agenda.
With the Tao as my anchor I am guided by the virtue of heaven.
The Tao itself doing nothing yet finding that there is nothing it does not do. Yet while following the Tao, I do everything that I should do. Through effortlessness and following the natural course of events, change begins to occur. By upholding the Tao, others begin to emulate your actions and begin to see through their own desire and they too can begin to become still. In stillness, simplicity becomes nameless and seeing beyond oneself becomes self-apparent.
Stilled by nameless simplicity their desires become non-existent. Once gone the world begins to fix itself.
38. Verse 38 – Learning to see beyond oneself
Instilling virtue within oneself requires neither thought nor effort or action if you are truly in sync with the way of virtue.
The Tao but a natural extension of who you have been, are now, and yet to become. Virtue simply the embodiment of an essence that embraces the way. Your role is to remain empty with your every action an effortless dialog leading others along the Way. As you look inward to insure you are ready to proceed with kindness and compassion to all you meet. Yet the kindness of the sage cannot go beyond fulfilling his own nature. Since his every action remains effortless he does not think about it.
Seeing beyond what his senses tell him, he simply does what is the natural extension of himself. His endeavors focusing on embodying the highest images of who he is yet to become and seeing beyond himself. Seeing beyond himself, he embodies the way and comes full face with his destiny.
Seeing his future, his vision matches things and names with reality. He remains humble and reveres harmony. Seeming beyond himself he becomes the connecting between all that should be between heaven and earth. As the sage he embodies the way.
39. Verse 39- Moving from finding the way to living in virtue
The sage takes no action, but leaves nothing undone or behind as the Tao remains forever nameless. Left alone to themselves, the ten thousand things find their own way and become transformed on their own.
Once awakened, the sage moves them with nameless simplicity. Remaining true to themselves they become quiet and tranquil. As if a single oneness, or purpose, has found each one with everything finding its place.
Finding himself alone to his liking, the sage becomes as one with heaven and earth as everyone finds him on the path to virtue.
Knowing he has now found the way, the sage clings only to his virtue ultimately showing the way for everything he has left behind.
40. Verse 40 – The Guardian Angel
If an angel came down from heaven to relay that what you thought were your weaknesses were actually your strengths and your strengths your weaknesses, would you have the courage to reach out and change the way you live each day.
If an angel came down from heaven to relay that your only limitations were self-imposed and you could accomplish whatever you wanted as long as the beneficiary was not yourself, what would you do first?
If an angel came down from heaven and stood right here – and said that people only know the work of working and that the greatest work of all is the work of not working Caught up thinking that everything comes from something. If they knew that something comes from nothing, they would not work so hard and enslave themselves to things. They would instead turn to God and the Tao and concentrate on cultivating spirit.
Finally it is when knowing that everything has its limit. That when their something gets way out here…. It has no choice but to come back the other way. Ultimately when we do become balanced we become centered.
When we become centered we can see beyond ourselves and we can discover why we are here. God’s grace and his hand come forth to guide our way.
Those who cultivate the Tao act with humility and harmony. Those who cultivate virtue look to themselves for the truth, not to the words of others. For those who understand that what moves them is also the source of their life, they can begin to understand the gift of heaven and live forever.
41. Verse 41 – Contending for the Middle
How is it that some can hear of the correct way and follow it with devotion, while others when hearing of it are content to argue whether it is real or not? And still others cannot seem to keep from laughing at such folly. However, if the latter did not laugh it wouldn’t be the way.
For contentment to find its middle both extremes must be shown. The brightest path to some seems dark, the quickest path seems slow.
The smoothest path remains rough. The highest virtue low. The whitest white seems pitch black. The greatest virtue wanting while the staunchest virtue timid. The truest truth remains uncertain. The perfect square will seem to lack corners as the perfect tool remains idle and does nothing. The perfect sound is hushed and quiet, as the perfect form remains shapeless.
It is through these opposites that the two sides of everything become clear.
Once clear, the Tao remains hidden from view, except to those who can truly see. Remaining hidden from view himself, the sage can easily find beginnings and endings and know when to start and how to finish as he already knows having seen both sides many times before.
42. Verse 42 – Emulating the Tao as you give birth to all around you
The Tao gives birth to one. One gives birth to two. Two gives birth to three and three give birth to ten thousand things. When I as one embrace the Tao and open my heart and mind to the universe I become complete as my focus remains on the horizon.
When I show another person the way, we walk in unison guided by what we have been taught. When we two brighten the path of the third all things become possible and in unison we give birth to a thousand things. As we too become the world’s teachers.
With yin at our backs and yang in our embrace we look for harmony. What the world hates we love. Just by what some gain in losing others will lose by gaining keeping the world forever in balance. Remaining fully enmeshed in the Tao, the sage simply follows his mentor, Lao Tzu, the ultimate teacher of the way. As such, we are reminded to reduce our desires, remain humble and practice the virtue of harmony.
Letting these three be our guide we quietly give birth to all around us.
43. Verse 43 – Mirroring the Tao
Go forth this day without form or substance and teach without words that otherwise may cloud the way. Remaining free to come and go even to places where appearances show no room as you lift the spirit of those around you and help all to find their way.
Appearing to do nothing. Remaining behind the scene as the ten thousand things are transformed and completed. Imitating the Tao. Mirroring the Tao my spirit soars with the dragons and prospers, you become speechless, following the Tao you take no action. Just as energy from the sun brings life to all it finds – it cannot penetrate a closed door or a covered window.
The light of our spirit reaches everywhere and nourishes everything once we have opened the doors and windows of our soul to the ultimate that calls us. Allowing the weakest to overtake the strongest and the strongest to find their true place in the universe. Succeeding without effort everything under heaven becomes one.
44. Verse 44 – Staying focused within oneself
By knowing what is vital can one hold onto fame or health? If he has to choose would it be his health or riches, and in the end would he know which is more harmful, loss or gain. If something is loved, the more it costs, the bigger the treasure the greater the loss when it is gone.
The sage stays clear of that which lies outside him and focuses on enhancing his inner voice and virtue. Keeping clear of what lies outside his true nature.
Staying in tune with his own natural rhythm. While those who would shame him find nothing to shame. He remains aware of his limits and constantly in tune with the Tao. In keeping in sync with the Tao, all flows through him and finds its proper place.
Knowing when to stop is as important as knowing when to start. Knowing restraint contentment soon follows. Finding happiness and wealth within himself his spirit soars and cannot be exhausted.
45. Verse 45 – Becoming Translucent
By not treating things as they are but as they can be everything has an opportunity to complete its cycle and return empty. To treat what seems incomplete as great, what seems empty as full, what seems crooked as straight, what seems clumsy as clever is transcendent. To do all while seeming translucent, or still, is in keeping with your highest purpose and in keeping with your place in the ten thousand things.
The sage is content if the greatest thing is incomplete or the fullest thing is empty for the greatest thing never wears out and the fullest thing never runs dry. He understands that the greatest thing cannot be seen in its entirety hence it seems incomplete. That the fullest thing cannot be seen in its totality hence it seems empty. That the straightest thing cannot be seen in its completeness; hence it seems crooked. That the cleverest thing cannot be seen in its perfection, hence it seems clumsy.
It is when opposites complement each other that the highest order is maintained. When order is found and balance maintained we become perfectly still. When we become perfectly still the order of the universe becomes known and all becomes translucent, or clear.
46. Verse 46 – Prevailing Contentment
How can we live within what the Tao teaches us, if we are never content with what the world brings to our doorstep and why should it matter? If we are busy cultivating things instead of ourselves, how can we find our true place in the ten thousand things? What can the seeds of contentment bring unless controlling our desires comes to the forefront and contentment decides to stay? If we do not remain still, how will we know when the way comes to find us?
Cultivating the Tao through meditation, thought, appearance, action and deed is the key to the sage’s security. By not seeking things outside himself, he becomes an extension of the Tao. He is internally guided by the knowledge that no crime is worse than yielding to our desire, no wrong is greater than discontent and no curse greater than getting what you want when you are unprepared for the consequences.
Before showing the way, the sage must truly know contentment and remain confident with what the Tao teaches and exude that confidence by showing the contentment of being content. When he can do this, others can see the folly of what external desires bring and can begin to find contentment for themselves.
Finding that the Tao has come full circle and begun to prevail in the world, the sage can be on his way.
47. Verse 47 – Becoming Endowed by the Way
When you are ready to come forth with a vision fully endowed by the way, you become the way. When you are ready to accept the mantle conferred by dragons by accepting Heaven as your ancestor, when virtue becomes your home and the Tao your door, only then can you begin to see beyond the limitations life brings each day as Chuang Tzu has taught you.
When you can remain above change, becoming a sage becomes clear.
When you can understand others by knowing yourself and understand other families by knowing your own, nothing more in the world is needed to be known. The sage does not need to ascend to the sky or descend into the depths to understand the way of heaven and earth.
When you can know the world without leaving your doorstep and are able to succeed without trying by relying only on your true nature, your vision moves beyond the distant horizon. Seeing what is coming allows you to stay behind. Staying behind allows you to remain as one with the ten thousand things. Remaining as one with the ten thousand things you become empty once again. Becoming empty, the sage remains unmoved by the events that may swirl around him.
48. Verse 48 – Becoming the Master Weaver
In weaving the fabric of your surroundings together, seek only the Tao without the use of ears or eyes. It will only be by looking within yourself and following your inner nature that the answer (which incidentally you have always known), comes forth to greet you.
Be guided by the answer given by the sage when he is asked “do you think I learn in order to increase my knowledge”. The sage simply replies “no, I seek only that which brings everything together”. As you liken yourself as the master weaver, you find yourself remaining as a clean slate with neither right nor wrong guiding your actions.
As you have become the natural extension of the universe – all things become possible. Opportunities otherwise overlooked or unknown come forth that have been waiting on cue to make their appearance. External knowledge becomes less important as the sage weaves all the pieces presented him into what becomes the natural extension of his own spirit.
Cultivating his body and spirit in the proper way the sage appears to have nothing to do. Having nothing to do leads to nothing not getting done. Having nothing better to do, the world simply finds itself coming along for the ride.
49. Verse 49 – Remaining True to Form
Retreat into the emptiness brought forth by the ten thousand things as if you have no mind of your own. Taking on the mind of all those around you and treating them as the same you become immersed in nothing.
Mindless, you convey the hopes, dreams and fears of all around you and embrace neither side of any argument.
To the good the sage is good and to the bad as well. He supports the bad like he is good until they see the bad for what it has brought them and become good. He illuminates like the sun and transforms the spirit. To what is true he is true and to what is false he is true until they too become true to the Tao.
It is by seeing the real in the false and the false in the real the sage’s wisdom is different from others. By remaining empty, the sage’s mind can merge with the mind of others. Because his mind is still, he can respond accordingly. While he may appear withdrawn from the world, he moves all in the direction they should take.
Always humble, he remains transparent while letting others seemingly find their own way.
50. Verse 50 – Evolving with Ever-renewing Purpose
To the sage death is nothing more than an opportunity to return home once again. To assess his standing in the ten thousand things and be reassured that he remains no better or worse for the wear, that in the end only his eternal presence, or essence, in keeping with the Tao is insured.
Success or failure only determined by the number of lives he has touched and rather he helped others find their true way. In coming home he transcends all boundaries and exudes the virtue and grace of one who has been everywhere there is to be, seen all there is to see and transcended the Tao to and fro, up and down and is utterly complete.
Cultivating his true nature his body is cast aside. As an innate knowing reminds him that once our body has been cast aside we are free to travel once again on the wind with dragons, as you are reminded of your eternal role in the universe and secret to your own longevity. Just as in life you guarded your real purpose, you now are ready to be renewed before returning to be born again.
51. Verse 51 – Honoring the Way
Honoring the way means staying true to the way. Staying true to the way means remaining humble with your virtue guiding every thought, action and deed. You have taken form in this place as the essence of the way of virtue.
While challenges and stubbing your toe may occur, they are simply to remind you of your own personas that you are here to complete. Your affinity to nature and the natural order of things are simply ways to express and sort through those things you are here to do. Created as an image or extension of the way virtue guides and instructs while being shaped by events as the Tao completes them.
Thus all things come forward to honor the way. Remaining transparent, your role cultivates and trains, steadies and adjusts, nurtures and protects without possessing or presuming. Without the need to control events everything reaches its fullest potential.
52. Verse 52 – When our Virtue becomes Us
When the ten thousand things came forth in the world, they did so as offspring of a great mother. When you know this mother, you can begin to understand her offspring understand the child and its mother becomes secure and. lives without trouble. Begin to focus on the Tao with the path you must take becoming clear and this mother will nurture you forever.
When we block the opening from that outside ourselves and close the gate to those who would bring us misfortune, we can live without toil or struggle. When we leave the opening unprotected and meddle in affairs outside of what the way teaches us, we live without hope.
When we follow the words of Confucius when he reminds us that just as things have their roots and branches, those that know what comes first and last may approach the Tao.
When we understand what motivates those around us and events when they are small, we can be quick to change our behavior and magnify our vision.
When we learn to trust our vision, we can see beyond ourselves and live beyond our death. When we live beyond our death, we can become free to travel the universe with the dragons as our virtue becomes us.
53. Verse 53 – Gently Guiding Others
Slow down and let your virtue lead the way. Stay fixed to the great way not letting distractions lead you astray. Stay focused on doing nothing and do everything simply with that you have learned by following the Tao.
Just as others look to you for direction, you must first gather them up like laundry, put them in the same basket, wash and dry them, then sort them in an orderly fashion. Folded and put away they await their turn to come to the forefront for all to see.
Instead of pushing certain things to happen, sit back and let your nature gently guide those around you. Instead of being in such a hurry, taking shortcuts and finding nothing but trouble, let events play themselves out. While the sage remains ahead by staying behind, his only concern is leading people down such a path.
However, as events play themselves out, he remains always ready to show the next step along the way.
54. Verse 54 – While cultivating his garden the world comes forward to find the Sage
What is this thing called virtue and this personal quest we each must come to know? Where does virtue begin and how does it grow and manifest to guide us once we see ourselves in the Tao? Once found, how do we let our virtue transcend our everyday desires so that we may see beyond ourselves to discover our rightful place in the universe?
To the sage the world reaches no further than his garden. He remains guided by planting things right so they cannot be uprooted and knowing what is nurtured cannot be ripped away. He cultivates his garden as if tending his virtue. He then cultivates others by reaching out to bequeath what is noble, pure and found only in the Tao.
Cultivating ourselves our virtue becomes real, cultivated in our family it multiplies, in the place we live virtue only increases and we prosper. In the world virtue thusly expanding everywhere.
In both perceived beginnings and endings, the sage looks no further than within himself. Staying completely still, within his true self the world comes forth to emulate him.
55. Verse 55 – Gaining a firm Grip on lasting Abundance
What does it mean to have lasting abundance when we leave our virtue behind? How can we be full of breath, yet not know how to make our breath endure? If our essence remains within us, why does our virility stand in the way?
When you become simply an extension of the Tao, you go as if mindless through your endeavors.
Without a mind, you have no thoughts or desires. You proceed fearless unaware of what may harm you or that you could possibly harm another.
Once you become aware that you are a part of something bigger than yourself and have a firm grip on the direction you must take, only then can you begin to focus your mind and cultivate the Tao. When your mind does not stray and a certain serenity surrounds you, then your breath can become balanced.
The sage focuses on his breath because when it becomes balanced his essence is stable, his spirit serene and his true nature is restored.
Controlling his breath he endures and finds his true nature. Understanding his true nature he is able to impart wisdom to others. He becomes unconcerned and extending his life as his spirit is uncluttered and has already rediscovered its place in what has been what may occur now and where he will spend eternity. The sage has no fear of death because he knows his essence, or spirit, remains eternal.
(Note: Chinese page numbers need to be confirmed from this point forward)
Chapter 3 –
56. Verse 56 – You must be the Change you want to see in the World.
Should the path of the sage be drawn to only finding his own place in the scheme of the universe once he becomes the embodiment of the Tao, or should he depart from his first inclination and devote himself to bringing others along the way to find it for themselves.
Following his instincts, he knows he must first find comfort in where he has been, where his path leads and where his final destination will take him.
Once he is self assured that he speaks with one voice and his actions speak for themselves, he can begin preparing for the greatest challenge the Tao and the universe can offer.
For thousands of years the sage has taken the back seat in the development of the world. Preferring to follow the traditional path to enlightenment concerned only with his own path, his own voice and his own actions.
His virtue alone carries his spirit from past encounters along destiny’s doorstep. How much greater his role could be if he could use his place in the Tao to lead the way.
Giving others his light, they too can perhaps begin to shine their own and find their own path as well. To be the door others can use to open their own spirit to find their way. This could be the ultimate role of the sage, his highest endeavor. To lead without harming others and to live as Gandhi said…
“To be the change you want to see in the world,” by doing nothing more than by simply showing the way.
57. Verse 57 – Becoming one with the dust on the World
The words of the sage cannot be heard It is through his actions that he leads the way. Leading with simple virtue.he remains quiet and unassuming.
When he talks he does so in almost a whisper so that others have to listen carefully so that nothing is missed. By controlling his breath, he focuses on self-control and stays away from extremes. To bring forth the virtue in the world he begins by transcending his human frailties and accepting his destiny and where it takes him.
In mirroring those around him, he begins by knowing when to enter and when to exit. As if he were sealing an opening or staying behind to close the gate. He focuses on dulling the edges and untying tangles to still the spirits. He softens the light and joins the dust to adapt all things to what is the proper way. He unties all things but leaves no trace as if he was never there.
Transcending himself the sage cannot be embraced, cannot be abandoned, cannot be helped and cannot be harmed.
He cannot be exalted or debased. While uniting with nothing, there is nothing that does not unite with him. Yet there is nothing he does not do or has not done.
58. Verse 58 – Bringing the World along for the Ride
The sage understands that most things under the sun are temporal, things coming and going with no lasting impact or purpose.
That once a certain direction becomes popular, indirection is what succeeds and that those who can remain still and inactive ultimately come forth to have the final say.
The sage knows that it is when we attempt to conquer the world we lose it. That the greater the prohibitions, the poorer the people become. The sharper the weapons, the greater the chances we will live in darkness. The more we scheme, the more complicated the outcome becomes. The greater the treasure, the more people strive for things outside themselves. Therefore, the sage changes nothing and the people transform themselves. He stays still and the people come to their senses. He does nothing, neither talking nor teaching and the people correct themselves thereby enriching themselves.
Wanting nothing, everyone around him simplifies himself or herself. By accepting the will of heaven the sage brings others to enlightenment. By knowing the final outcome his virtue remains intact. With his virtue intact the sage simply continues along on his way.
59. Verse 59 – Remaining as an edge that does not cut
Traveling back in time when I was one with my contemporaries; Lao, Lieh, Chuang, and yes even Kong (Confucius), I am reminded of times spent debating the great thoughts of the day, serving the emperor only a way to expand the path that should be taken.
Facilitating order, eschewing the truth only found in cause and effect continually reminded that there is no right or wrong. That one’s destiny is only vaguely tied to our endeavors we become attached to in the here and now. Keeping happiness at arms length knowing it can only be followed by sadness. Both alternatives as if seasons.
Repeating through the ages the axiom that when either government or that governed stand aloof, the people remain relaxed and unconcerned as the sage remains in the background. Letting things take care of themselves, he is content to be free of direction as if blown along by the wind. Transcending uncertainty, he can see where everything begins and ends.
While the world withers and the Tao ebbs and flows, the sage remains content to remain as the edge that does not cut, as a point that does not pierce, as a line that does not extend and a light that does not blind. By entering the world of seeming confusion he extends the Tao to the world and shows the way. Living in paradox and knowing where things end he begins to transform all those around him.
60. Verse 60 – The Way of long and lasting Life
Calmness and economy, two traits the sage follows instinctively. In becoming still, the sage turns to his breath and then his thoughts. When his thoughts are calm, his virtue remains within. When his breathing is clear, he is reminded of his center and being at one with the Tao and all things. By embracing economy, the sage can possess what he needs without using more than his spirit requires thereby keeping his virtue intact.
Planning ahead the sage accumulates virtue, accumulating virtue means that he overcomes all. Overcoming all he knows no limit. Knowing no limit he can return to the Tao as if guarding what is real. Knowing this, he takes care of his body and breath. Caring for his body he remains unharmed.
He stays behind as if one thousand years old. His roots nourished by the breath of ten thousand things. Maintaining deep roots and a solid trunk the sage prospers adhering to the way of virtue letting his branches and leaves breathe through eternity.
61. Verse 61 – Harmony Finding the Way
Bringing harmony to all around him, the sage is reminded of cooking a small fish. Too much attention and the fish turns to mush, too little and it soon burns. Harmony can only flourish when each is allowed to find its own way. Some fish will become mush and others will burn. But in the end, if it is to be eaten a consensus or middle ground will be found.
In governing the world by following the Tao, the sage displays no powers. Just as the world learns to eat fish, he remains inactive or seemingly behind the scenes. He governs but does not act his virtue remaining intact with harmony always finding its way.
As the sage is the essence of virtue disharmony can never enter the picture. Neither can the people do him harm, nor him harm others, as he too finds the world’s middle and a place for everyone at the table.
62. Verse 62 – Cultivating Humanity
Remaining at the lowest point of mediation where everything else comes to meet. As if the confluence, or gathering point, of great rivers that all come together to create a united front or way.
Acting as if this great river of life sustaining water irrigates your life and your garden. Remaining humble, as if the needs of others are shared and understood by all as each becomes nourished through your enlightenment.
Standing alone each is like a turnip found in the garden of the sage. Picked while still small they are tender and sharp, if allowed to get to large, the turnip becomes tough and bitter. Like the gardener, the sage cultivates humanity as if picking the turnips while they are small, thereby saving him much misunderstanding in the end.
The sage becoming simply a watershed making people content with the way they are. Showing the way he attains the highest by remaining the lowest. By uniting and leading others he succeeds by joining and serving others.
In the truest sense he is cultivating humanity simply by tending his garden as he tends to all around him.
63. Verse 63 – Becoming a Sanctuary to all you meet
The sage acknowledges and understands that there is nothing that is not in keeping with the Tao. Especially true is that the Tao resides in each of us. Thus in showing the way the sage is good at saving and directing those around him, while abandoning no one. Since the sage in essence is simply the embodiment of the Tao, abandoning or leaving behind another person could or would never enter his mind.
The sage’s surroundings are illustrative of how he sees his place in the ten thousand things. As though he is seen creating a sanctuary that reflects his innermost sense of who he is yet to become. Kind and reflective, still yet expansive, he competes with no one and no one competes with him. His strengths and weaknesses have become razor sharp as he uses them to cut through what is perceived to be truth and falsehood. While he remains on the edge pushing others to places they would not otherwise go, he leaves no foothold for those who would follow except by accepting and following the Tao.
When he himself becomes the sanctuary for others to take refuge and follow, finding the comfort only found in the expression of the Tao, he is reminded that he who searches will find it and those who don’t only escape to wait until another day.
64. Verse 64 – Finding Everything too Easy
The sage knows that doing what comes naturally is not work. Therefore he works without really working. He acts without really acting, thereby not exhausting himself and tastes without really tasting the true meaning of the Tao through meditation. He goes forth knowing that rather we are great or small, many or few it is important to repay any slight or wrong with virtue.
What the world considers hard the sage considers easy. Just as what the world considers easy the sage considers hard. How can that be so?
If one can plan for the hard when it is easy and work on the great when it is small, the hardest task in the world becomes easy. The greatest goal in the world begins, or becomes small.
Because the sage never acts he achieves great things. He responds to others knowing instinctively that he who quickly agrees is seldom trusted and those who make it all look easy finds the way hard. Therefore the sage travels in virtue making everything appear hard, while he himself finds nothing hard.
65. Verse 65 – Learning to act before something Exists
As one who is recognized by his peers for his vision and all things ethereal having found where all things meet and reflecting on the common purpose or rhythm of the universe, what can be more important than knowing when to act before something exists?
Knowing when to proceed and when to wait letting patience be your guide. It’s easy to rule when it’s peaceful. `It’s easy to plan before something arrives. It’s easy to break when its fragile and as we have learned, easy to disperse when its small. Be the one who prepares the master plan.
But know to act is to fail and to control is to lose. The sage therefore doesn’t act he thus does not lose. Living in the paradox that life brings forth to challenge him each day ultimately simply the reminder of why he is here.
Does not the sage seek what no one else looks for turning to what others pass by? To remind others that everything must simply run its course. That when the time is right it arrives and that the truth of all things is in doing what comes natural. The sage therefore knows to simply act naturally before something exists.
第 节 预防不测
66. Verse 66 – Reaching Perfect Harmony
In the middle of all lies perfect harmony. When you go to extremes you lose the natural balance found in all things. It is for this reason that knowledge is frowned upon for those who have not found their way. Knowledge in the hands of a person not grounded in the way of virtue is lost to the vagaries of the moment.
Knowledge leads to deception and deception to definitions of right and wrong that are self-serving and can become secretive and divisive.
Those who remain unconcerned about knowledge look to heaven and harmony with the world around them. Once in harmony with heaven, they learn to only do that which requires no effort. Once you see that everything you need to know already lies, or exists, within yourself you can begin to understand that the lack of knowledge spreads virtue. It is by governing himself, cultivating the virtue he shares with heaven, that the sage’s place in the scheme of things becomes clear.
The sage becomes so deep that he cannot be reached and is always found to be doing the opposite of others. He goes so far as to reach perfect harmony, an image mirroring the Tao.
67. Verse 67 – Thoughts on remaining a lower presence
The sage’s challenge is to be present, but act as if he is not really here. Possessing the way he sees himself as an orphan widowed and impoverished staying below those around him. He is as if the banks of a great river allowing everything to run through and past him, while he guides the way. He is like the receptacle of everything as it meets its end, as if the ocean remaining lower and capturing the water of a hundred rivers. While they pour into him, he barely notices except to be raised up by their presence.
For those who would benefit by the sage he must maintain a position lower than everyone around him.
If thrust to the forefront he must act as if he were behind. If seen as above others he must see that others remain unburdened by him.
While those around him continually push him forward he simply flows with events taking care not to struggle. Because he does not struggle no one can struggle against him. As no one can struggle against him he takes everything to new heights and places they would not otherwise go.
68. Verse 68 – Rising to the forefront through Compassion
Refraining from greatness is an obstacle the sage finds himself continually up against. As he goes forth in compassion others are drawn to his light. While he prefers to remain in the background, others are quick to recognize his virtue and vision. While he prefers not to distinguish or differentiate himself, he goes out of his way not to demean or glorify himself. Once the sage becomes useful to others, so does the means to be great. He therefore prefers to remain in the background and stay small.
The sage counters this rush to judgment by upholding his sense of integrity by treasuring inner patience, frugality and humility. He does this by living a simple life based on compassion, a sense of austerity and a reluctance to excel as if life were drifting through the world without opposing others.
Just as the sage is reminded of when at the age of eighteen he wrote something that has remained the underpinning of who he was yet to become… “That sorrowful feelings mean nothing if there is no compassion felt”.
He has now come full circle in gaining an understanding of where and how all things in the universe fit together. That all things serve a purpose and that if we renounce compassion for valor without recognizing that being soft allows us to overcome what is most difficult, anything seen as success would be shallow or non-existent. That the sage can be austere by learning when to stop and content with just what he has this moment, thereby living in both hardship and extravagance. By standing back, or aside, as if we are reluctant to excel no one excels us.
Since the sage does not compete, what he brings to the table allows him to understand the root of all problems, or underlying contradiction and do only that which must be done. The sage is moved by compassion as the ultimate expression of the Tao.
Compassion defined as protecting the ten thousand things under heaven and remaining prepared for and knowing any outcome that may follow.
(Note: Numbering needs to be corrected from this point forward so that Chinese number matches the rest of the volume).
69. Verse 69 – Conveying the utmost virtue through non-aggression
The sage is careful not to proceed in anger or acrimony. As everything under the sun comes to pass is not it our responsibility to look for the perfect solution. He sets the example for others to follow.
He knows full well that as quickly that anger can turn to joy, that joy can respond in anger and to what end. As he follows his mentors, he is reminded that throughout the ages those who think means can justify the ends have accomplished nothing. This is why the age-old analogy that nothing can be right if it can be right for one and wrong for another. How can the Tao support one and not the other? This is why the sage leads by example with the foremost desire to remain empty and still. That “doing nothing” is simply emptying your mind and body of anything foreign to the Tao, as no one can fight against nothing.
In ancient times, long before Lao, Chuang, Lieh and even Confucius, everything remained perfect. The perfect army was not armed, the perfect warrior was not angry, the perfect victor was not hostile and the perfect commander acted humble.
It is the sage’s highest aspiration to remind others of from where they came and to convey the utmost virtue of non-aggression by using strength and weakness of others to show the way. To be reminded of from where he came, as if from above. While his heart remains below uniting all things under heaven and the Tao. Is not this his ultimate purpose?
Maintaining ties with his old friends to move all those around him towards their proper end.
70. Verse 70 – Putting Things in Order or Being The Guest at a Fine Banquet
In greeting those who would oppose him, the sage proceeds as if at a fine banquet. He responds only after his host sets the table and blessings have been received from heaven.
He advances innately ready to retreat with the slightest provocation. While the host may resist, the guest remains free to compromise. While the host toils to improve his position, the guest relaxes. While the host appears busy with much activity, he retreats in quiet. The sage remains prepared to meet resistance with agreement, toil with relaxation, pride with humility and action with quiet. Knowing in reality he has no opposition or enemy as he remains fully enmeshed in whatever outcome that may arrive.
While the sage works to bring all together under the sun, as if an umbrella out of harms way, he is often evenly matched by those who are happy with leaving things just the way they are. While they may be content to only expand their treasure, he is concerned with illustrating the traits of compassion and the Tao.
While remorseful about where he may find himself, the sage knows no fate is worse than having no enemy. As opposites are required for either him or the Tao to proceed he quickly thanks his host for the sumptuous meal and then quickly and quietly recedes.
71. Verse 71 – Proceeding with little or no Fanfare
The sage’s motives are seldom understood and no one is usually very quick to employ them. Even though his words are easy to understand and put into practice.
He is reminded of the old proverb. “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand”.. Confucius adds that one should study what is below and understand what is above. Besides, who can know the motives of the sage, except heaven? Understanding something that cannot be seen, touched, smelled, tasted or heard seems beyond comprehension.
However, all things have ancestors and nothing can begin unless something else moves out of the way and ends. The sage remains an enigma to those around him as he is somehow different than others. He does not simply see himself only in terms of the here and now. But acknowledges his presence in what has come. Up to now since antiquity and that he has seen it all before as he is assured that his destiny is to one day return to be one with the dragons.
While it is the Tao and one universally referred to as God that is to be exalted, the sage is often considered in high esteem because he can be seen. Knowing this he strives to wear plain clothes and attempt, however difficult, to remain unseen and let others lead the way. He remains difficult to know because he seldom reveals his true self, as once revealed his opposition would request equal billing. But then again, who could oppose the sage for long.
72. Verse 72 – Understanding one’s own affliction
What can it possibly mean to say we understand something when there can be no understanding as our attachments and afflictions keep coming forward for all to see? As we spend all our time thinking we don’t understand, when what we need has been before us trying to get our attention that brings us to understanding.
How can we understand when understanding depends on things independent of each other coming together for their own sake? What can there be to understanding when the answers seem to lie beyond us?
Can we understand our true place in the universe once we know we are only here to come to know our spirit’s true affliction? Treating our affliction, or hardship, as a result our of lack of ability to see ourselves as who we ultimately are to become? If we cannot see beyond our transitory ego and self, how can we come to know why we are here?
Or if as we say someone can awaken midstream to understand his or her place in the universe, as if suddenly seeing the light, can that understanding be understood?
Just as trying to understand the Tao through reasoning when there is no door or entrance that defines what remains indefinable. When often tried, the sage is seen as having an affliction. When in reality the sage is not afflicted, he simply remains above understanding so that hardship or difficulty cannot find him.
73. Verse 73 – Staying out of the way of our own Enlightenment
For the sage that is fully engaged, keeping ego at arm’s length is his reminder of how far he has yet to travel. As he steps back for a moment to review the roadmap that illustrates the starting point of his journey, the road he has traveled thus far and what he hopes to learn about himself in the days ahead. Letting go and letting his friends, the dragons, lead the way.
His journey through the Tao Te Ching is now almost complete. He’s come far enough to know that keeping his virtue in tact requires his simply knowing himself and remaining hidden from view as he leads the way.
Scoffing at the paradox that authority always brings to the table. That those who fear authority are usually better off than those who have authority to fear. Knowing that if there are no restrictions where people live and we don’t repress how they want to live, people won’t protest. If they don’t protest there is nothing to fear. Thus the sage is mindful of his role. Careful to keep his ego in check as he knows his ultimate success will only be measured by what is left behind as he remains unattached to things outside himself.
He focuses only his own journey letting events propel him forward to destinations as yet unknown.
His only challenge to stay out of the way of his own enlightenment.
74. Verse 74 – Acceding to the will of Heaven
Everything under the sun must take its turn. Impatience and ego the only deterrent from our recognizing our good when heaven comes forth to greet us. It is in daring to act without virtue that we fail when keeping still defines who will benefit and who will be harmed.
Who can know the will of heaven? Can only those who accept the path to enlightenment who live under the auspices of the Tao come closer than any other? It is as if two people are confronted with the same choice.
One will follow the instincts of heaven and the other the instincts of self-interest. Why does one see the way beginning within himself ultimately leads to virtue and the will of heaven through detachment from the world. While the other cannot see beyond himself and the material world he covets. The sage knows that all things under heaven eventually come to pass to find each one of us. It is what we grab onto that determines our way.
That is why cause and effect and yin and yang of everything imaginable must occur. Light must become dark, just as the four season’s change. All things have their time that leads to their ultimate unfolding. This underlying truth is the path to reason. The way of heaven wins easily without a fight because it already knows the outcome and will see things through to their end.
It answers with a word as the natural progression of cause and effect, comes quickly without a summons protecting those who, with grace, follow the way and plans ingeniously without a thought as the natural extension of the Tao. It’s net is all embracing and nothing escapes it.
Each beginning must follow with its rightful end just as every end is simply the beginning of something else. Death following life and life following death as we continually leave our spirit to find its own ultimate endeavor and destiny.
75. Verse 75 – Finding our Place in Heaven
For those who have not taken up their personal journey; for those who have not awakened midstream to find themselves embracing something beyond themselves that cannot be explained but makes perfect sense; for those who fail to pass judgment on themselves and all around them, yet see clearly, does not the final answer come forward with how they perceive their own death and innate fear of losing what life they have until they figure it out.
Throughout the ages and passed along from each generation and centuries too numerous to mention has not this overriding question of immortality and the efforts to embrace it been the endeavor of even the most devout sage with thoughts of death and destiny and questioning who are we to judge the will of heaven.
The sage is guided by the knowledge that as long as people fear death, forces close by will always be near to do them in. If we in turn substitute the will of heaven for our own, are we ourselves likely to meet our own untimely end?
If as stated earlier, the net of heaven is all-embracing its mesh remaining wide so that nothing escapes it, then does not everything eventually find its rightful place under heaven?
76. Verse 76 – In death the Tao acknowledges the Sage
Before there was considered to be a force in the universe that would be known as God, there was the Tao. Before there existed the myriad of shamans, saints, priests and holy men considered to be here to lead the way, there was the Tao.
As the ten thousand things came forth from antiquity to manifest and begin the cycle of being born, dying and being born again continually as the natural extension of the way, the sage ultimately came forth as one protected by dragons. The dragons, but those who have been chosen to impart simple virtue as those who follow the correct path or way of heaven.
The sage coming forward to find that the reason there is suffering or hunger for life is that others impose too many restrictions on how we should live, therefore people remain unfulfilled. That the reason people are hard to get along with is that those who would lead the way have forgotten the path in which all should follow. However, when death follows as the natural course of events after everything has passed through him and acknowledges his ultimate place in the universe, the loving life becomes secondary as eternal life comes forth to greet the great sage.
Loving God and what He and the Tao teaches, he simply lets his enthusiasm come naturally as the centuries have shown him the proper way.
77. Verse 77 – Letting your Enthusiasm open every door
Fortunate again to be born into weakness, we are soon caught up in what may be perceived as making us strong. Confused into thinking that our strength is needed to help us find our way when just the opposite, our weakness, will bring us victory.
Lieh Tzu, my friend and mentor, tells the world that the path to victory is weakness. As the hard and strong lead people away from the Tao, they do so with great effort.
They refuse to remain still letting events come to them. Convinced that controlling what occurs they will find their direction. Remaining oblivious to what remains effortless may just appear as weakness.
Observing the simple, letting everything play out to its own conclusion, the sage appears soft and seemingly weak. When things become hard and stiff they can only be close to their end. Remaining supple and bending with the wind the soft and weak can stay in tune with life.
Staying within the confines of his own virtue, the sage easily converses with his mentors bringing nothing hard and fast to the table. He confines himself to his humble beginnings letting the Tao lead the way. Letting his enthusiasm remain his signature that softens every encounter he is not bound by things seemingly apparent in the world as he opens every door that finds him.
78. Verse 78 – Following the way of Heaven
The sage endeavors to follow the way of heaven while only revealing everything for its true and natural place. Pulling down the high while lifting the low he stays on an even keel finding the natural balance of all around him.
Continually moving forward unsure or unconcerned if what he does is ultimately good or bad as long as the natural order of things are followed and are allowed to take their places. Moving without presumption or staking claim to what may be perceived as personal achievement. Choosing to remain in the background and not displaying his skills, nothing can deter or get in his way. His burden to keep his virtue to himself and not revealed to those who continually come running to his doorstep.
Modeling his actions after the way of heaven, the sage takes from the long and gives to the short so that the ten thousand things naturally find their places. For all things under heaven to find their place, it is best for heaven to sit back and do nothing allowing the nature of all things to come forward unimpeded fulfilling its ultimate endeavor and finding its true identity and destiny.
79. Verse 79 – Being Present at Destiny’s Table
The sage is reminded of the words of an old friend who once told him that the true nature of one who follows the Tao is like water. It is the nature of water to stay low, not to struggle and to take on the shape of its container thus appearing to be weak.
Is this not the way of the sage? Appearing weak, but in reality able to cut through any obstacle as he ultimately finds his true path.
What is perceived as weakness often wins through persistence while what appears to be hard easily becomes brittle unable to withstand the pressure of determination.
Should not we follow the ways of Chuang Tzu who decried that everyone wants to be first, while he alone waits, wanting to be last enduring to the end so that he may be present at destiny’s table.
Emulating Chuang Tzu’s perfected man cannot the sage by following the Tao and the way of heaven ultimately turn everything upside down thereby betraying conventional wisdom at every turn.
In looking beyond the present and reminding himself of what’s to come, does not the sage simply prepare to return to find this place confident that the stage has been set and his place at the table assured.
80. Verse 80 – Staying in Step with the Tao
Cultivating ourselves while holding a marker as if attached and only concerned with the way of heaven.
Making no claims on others while making demands only on ourselves as disputes come and go as if they are riding the wind. Here now only to test our direction and how far along we’ve come on our journey.
The world is looking for the sage to come forward full of enthusiasm and direction to lead in the spirit of dragons and to show others their highest endeavor and destiny. The world is looking to the sage once he has accepted the mantle as one enmeshed with the Tao.
Once he has accepted his place in the scheme of things to come, nothing can stand in his way. As he simply embodies the Tao in his every thought, action and deed his every step continues to become second nature…
81. Verse 80 – Remaining in High Style
Remaining satisfied with just what you have as you are content to live as the extension of the Tao which has become the reflection of who and where you are.
Living within the Tao, the sage soon becomes aware that he is nothing more than an extension of what occurs in nature. Enabling all to come forward to find their true place, not as the substitute for their action, but as one who empowers others to see beyond themselves as the sage stays in the background doing nothing.
Envisioning a place where there are tools that remain unused, where people have no need to move far afield, are easy with death and where it takes them, with places to go but no reason to travel, and defenses in place but no reason to defend them. Satisfied with the fruits of their labor and content with where they find themselves as they go restfully to sleep each night. Content with their homes and happy with their customs as they know the taste of the Tao and remain adorned with virtue. Even though others may live close by they have no reason to visit as all they need they already have.
82. Epilogue – Preparing to return to utter Spontaneity
Simplicity, detachment, and virtue, the three anchors that through the ages have separated the sage from the rest of the world. Emulating the Tao he recalls what came first, what remains empty and forever still. Preparing to return to the utter spontaneity found as one in complete harmony with the universe, the Tao Te Ching now completed.
The journey with Lao Tzu simply the process of coming forward to know the way of the sage is to act without struggle. Everything coming forward to greet him to convey what was before him from the beginning. That in the end he accumulates nothing assured that the more he does for others the greater his own abundance and that the way of heaven is to help without harming. Knowing this the sage finds his journeys complete.
As he prepares to depart up the familiar path to meditate in his garden pavilion seeking refuge to contemplate how far he has come, the sage is reminiscent about times spent with Lao, Chuang, and Lieh even Confucius, Mencius and all the others, he is confident that another step has now been completed.
His thoughts on becoming a sage now complete, he now thrives on virtue secure at his passing.
|___ Taoism, Daoism (Chinese: 道教; pinyin: Daojiao) Chinese philosophy to signify the fundamental or true nature of the world: simplicity and selflessness in conformity with the Tao, leading a life of non- purposeful action, a life expressing the essence of spontaneity.|
|Taoism, also known as Daoism, roots began in shamanism and the I Ching. My own version of the I Ching is also found on this website. It became definable about the same time as Confucianism during what would be known as the “One Hundred Flowers” period. Lao Tzu is considered to have written a book of 81 chapters, named Tao Te Ching, also Daodejing, a classical Chinese text, mainly concerning tao/ dào “way,” and te/dé “virtue”, life, strength.
My own book that was published in China in 2006 follows below. Taoist thought focuses on genuineness, longevity, health, immortality, vitality, wu wei (non-action, a natural action, a perfect equilibrium with tao), detachment, refinement (emptiness), spontaneity, transformation and omni-potentiality.This religious and philosophical tradition of Taoism had its roots in the nature worship and divination of the earliest Chinese people. The word ‘Tao’ 道 (or Dao) translates into “path”, ”method”, “principle” or “way”, the character 教 translates into ‘”teach” or “class” and Taoist belief is based on the idea that there is central or organizing principle of the universe, a natural order or a “way of heaven”, Tao, that one can come to know by living in harmony with nature and hence with the cosmos and the universe.
The philosophy of Tao signifies the fundamental or true nature of the world, it is the essential, unnameable process of the universe. Tao both precedes and encompasses the universe.Nothing in the universe is fixed, static or non moving; per se everything is transforming all the time. The flow of ‘chi’ energy, as the essential energy of action, existence and active principle forming part of any living things, is compared and believed to be the influence that keeps the universal order of Tao balanced. Analogies exist between all levels of existence: the universe, the cosmos, Earth and mankind are structured analogically and are equal in detail, forming an interconnected whole. Through an understanding of natural laws, an individual can be one with the Tao by living in accordance with nature (cosmos/ Universe) and all its transformations and changes, adopting and assimilating to these, and hence can gain eternal life. With and due to the transformations and changes of the phenomena everything and every being spontaneously, by intuition and in impulse establishs its own ‘way’. All things with their transformations and changes are considered to be self regulating, self expressing in their natural form.