Tao Te Ching Chapter 18

Even with guidance this chapter remains a mystery to me.

Thank you to Derek Lin’s Tao Te Ching Annotated and Explained.Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.54.38 AM

The great Tao fades away
There is benevolence and justice
Intelligence comes forth
There is great deception

The six relations are not harmonious
There is filial piety and kind affection
The country is in confused chaos
There are loyal ministers

 

Tao Te Ching Chapter 17

Chapter 17 instructs rulers or a modern day leader how to act. The highest form being the leader whose followers are unaware that they follow him, rather the end result is a “We did it” as a team.

Thank you to Derek Lin’s Tao Te Ching Annotated and Explained.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.54.38 AMThe highest rulers, people do not know they have them
The next level, people love them and praise them
The next level, people fear them
The next level, people despise them
If the rulers’ trust is insufficient
Have no trust in them

Proceeding calmly, valuing their words
Task accomplished, matter settled
The people all say, “We did it naturally”

Tao Te Ching Chapter 16

This is a chapter that I love. It resounds with me; particularly “Not knowing constancy, one recklessly causes trouble”. My life in a nut shell. I yearn for this, which is perhaps why I haven’t fully achieved it yet. I have to let go and accept life as it comes to me. It is that impartiality that evades me. In time perhaps.

Thank you to Derek Lin’s Tao Te Ching Annotated and Explained.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.54.38 AMAttain the ultimate emptiness
Hold on to the truest tranquility
The myriad things are all active
I therefore watch their return

Everything flourishes; each returns to its root
Returning to the root is called tranquility
Tranquility is called returning to one’s nature
Returning to one’s nature is called constancy
Knowing constancy is called clarity

Not knowing constancy, one recklessly causes trouble
Knowing constancy is acceptance
Acceptance is impartiality
Sovereign is Heaven
Heaven is Tao
Tao is eternal
The self is no more, without danger

Tao Te Ching Chapter 15

A wonderful chapter which instructs us to emulate the Tao masters of antiquity must as the Tao masters emulated the world around them, seeking to further understand the Tao.

Thank you to Derek Lin’s Tao Te Ching Annotated and Explained.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.54.38 AMThe Tao masters of antiquity
Subtle wonders through mystery
Depths that cannot be discerned
Because one cannot discern them
Therefore one is forced to describe the appearance

Hesitant, like crossing a wintery river
Cautious, like fearing four neighbours
Solemn, like a guest
Loose, like ice about to melt
Genuine, like plain wood
Open, like a valley
Opaque, like muddy water

Who can be muddled yet desist
In stillness gradually become clear?
Who can be serene yet presist
In motion gradually come alive?

One who holds the Tao does not wish to be overfilled
Because one is not overfilled
Therefore one can preserve and not create anew

Tao Te Ching Chapter 14

Chapter 14 is what it calls the Tao, enigmatic, at least for me. I enjoy the final lines though for I suspect the wisdom of the Tao can help us manage life today.

Thank you to Derek Lin’s Tao Te Ching Annotated and Explained.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.54.38 AMLook at it, it cannot be seen
It is called colourless
Listen to it, it cannot be heard
It is called noiseless
Reach for it, it cannot be held
It is called formless
These three cannot be completely unraveled
So they are combined into one

Above it, not bright
Below it, not dark
Continuing endlessly, cannot be named
It returns back into nothingness
Thus it is called the form of the formless
The image of the imageless
This is called enigmatic
Confront it, its front cannot be seen
Follow it, its back cannot be seen

Wield the Tao of the ancients
To manage the existence of today
One can know the ancient beginning
It is called the Tao Axiom

Tao Te Ching Chapter 13

Chapter 13 of the Tao Te Ching speaks to ego or self-love and the dangers that lie with that versus the great that can come from recognizing the self as a part of the world and loving the self through loving the world.

I think most people are aware of our very human need for recognition and praise as well as the subsequent fear of mockery or disgrace. Both of these driving forces come from the ego or what Lao Tzu terms the self. Remove the sense of self and we lose controlling forces of favour and disgrace.

But if you value yourself as a small part of the world and turn your love to others then you will be raised as you raise them. Your joy will come not from recognition rather it will come from helping others find joy. I think this is a wonderful truth.

As always thanks goes to Derek Lin’s Tao Te Ching Annotated and Explained.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.54.38 AMFavour and disgrace make one fearful
The greatest misfortune is the self
What does “favour and disgrace make one fearful” mean?
Favour is high; disgrace is low
Having it makes one fearful
Losing it makes one fearful
This is “favour and disgrace make one fearful”

What does “the greatest misfortune is the self” mean?
The reason I have great misfortune
Is that I have the self
If I have no self
What misfortune do I have?

So one who values the self as the world
Can be given the world
One who loves the self as the world
Can be entrusted with the world

Tao Te Ching Chapter 12

Chapter 12 of the Tao Te Ching seems really relevant to modern society. It speaks of sensory overload, the constant chase for something better or newer, and how that can never truly satisfy. Instead Lao Tzu recommends simply taking what is needed and finding comfort within the Tao.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.54.38 AMI like this chapter a lot. I have come across many people unhappy with their present situation although I find they have a comfortable life otherwise filled with laughter and joy. It is their need for more money, a nicer car, less work, more vacations etc that drives their unhappiness. If they accepted their present situation for what it is and learned to love their life as such, taking pleasure in the service of others and quiet solitude perhaps then their suffering would lessen.

As always thanks goes to Derek Lin’s Tao Te Ching Annotated and Explained.

The five colours make one blind in the eyes
The five sounds make one deaf in the ears
The five flavours make one tasteless in the mouth

Racing and hunting make one wild at heart
Goods that are difficult to acquire make one cause damage

Therefore the sages care for the stomach and not the eyes
That is why they discard the others and take this

Tao Te Ching Chapter 11

Chatpter 11 of Tao Te Ching speaks to substance and emptiness, that one cannot exist without the other. Thus it has been written that the Tao embeds everything because the Tao is emptiness.

I can certainly speak to the practice of emptiness or silence allowing for realizations or growth that could not have come before, so in that way the Tao does allow for functionality within my own life, or any other followers I guess.

As always I owe much of my insights to Derek Lin’s Tao Te Ching Annotated and Explained.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.54.38 AMThirty spoke join in one hub
In its emptiness, there is the function of a vehicle
Mix clay to create a container
In its emptiness, there is the function of a container
Cut open doors and windows to create a room
In its emptiness, there is the function of a room

Therefore, that which exists is used to create benefit
That which is empty is used to create functionality

Tao Te Ching Chapter 10

Chapter 10 of the Tao Te Ching speaks to the bearing of a Taoist; the humility that comes with enlightened understanding, and the challenges one faces along that path. I particularly like “In the heavens gate’s opening and closing, Can one hold to the feminine principle?” The feminine principle at that time symbolizing the yin principle of serenity and quietude, thus in realizing great truths can one hold to serenity and quietude or does the ego take over? Time will tell for this guy I guess (seems I’m convinced that I will learn some great truth at some point so perhaps not… hahaha).

Thank you to Tao Te Ching Annotated and Explained by Derek Lin.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.29.54 AMIn holding the soul and embracing oneness
Can one be steadfast, without straying?
In concentrating the energy and reach relaxation
Can one be like an infant?
In cleaning away the worldly view
Can one be without imperfections?
In loving the people and ruling the nation
Can one be without manipulation?
In the heavens gate’s opening and closing
Can one hold to the feminine principle?
In understanding clearly all directions
Can one be without intellectuality?

Bearing it, rearing it
Bearing without possession
Achieving without arrogance
Raising without domination
This is called the Mystic Virtue

Tao Te Ching Chapter 9

Chapter 9 speaks to restraint and piety. The wisdom of having just enough and when having achieved greatness bowing out of the spotlight. There is quiet charm in this way. What is this prevailing need we in the West have for more? It has become impossible to fill our needs, once we have attained our desires they pale in comparison to something else, thus the discontent is born again until we reach that plateau, only to seek out the next great thing again and again and again.

I cannot see fault in the wisdom of being content with enough. What is enough is the question. Are you comfortable? Have you cleared your debt? Do you have enough that should you not be able to work you will survive? If so perhaps that is enough. Anything more is desires and not needs.

As for bowing out when reaching greatness; what is the persuasive need we have to lord our possessions and achievements our peers other than our own insecurities crying out for acknowledgment and attention? But what do I know? I write a blog…

As always thanks to taoism.net and to Derek Lin’s Tao Te Ching Annotated and Explained.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.29.54 AMHolding a cup and overfilling it
Cannot be as good as stopping short
Pounding a blade and sharpening it
Cannot be kept for long

Gold and jade fill up the room
No one is able to protect them
Wealth and position bring arrogance
And leave disasters upon oneself

When achievement is completed, fame is attained
Withdraw oneself
This is the Tao of Heaven