Tao give rise to one, one gives rise to two, two gives rise to three, three gives rise to a multitude.

Everyone puts yin behind and embraces yang,
Mix the qi to conserve (yi wei) peace

What people find worst is to be alone, friendless and without resources,
yet princes and lords are restrained (yi wei) like this.

Something might occur that involves loss, yet nonetheless yield a benefit.
Sometimes a benefit entails a loss.

What people teach, I also teach:
"A strong beam” person cannot remain inflexible."
My religion is restraint (yi wei).


This chapter is about yi wei (以為) which is not easy to translate. Nowadays it means “to believe” or “to be under the impression that” but it probably originally referred to action that is restrained. Wei (為) is a central term in the Tao te Ching and is found in such expressions as wei wu wei - act without acting. Yi (以) is an operational term that places some limit on something. To act without acting is to avoid being carried away, to avoid excess. This is very Taoist. I therefore conclude that in this chapter the term yi wei refers to such restraint.

The chapter is telling us that what may seem obvious, is not as reliable as it may seem. Lao Tzu is an advocate of the importance of the yin side of life. Things have a tendency to escalate. One becomes two. Two becomes three. Soon there is a mulitude. However, the person of Tao turns back, from the multitude to duality, from duality to singularity, from singularity to the Tao itself. This is a matter of holding back.

Ordinary people neglect the yin aspect. They surge forward pursuing the yang, the assertive, creative, “progress”. The non-assertive, acceptant, quiet “dark” aspect is neglected. Lao Tzu, however, says that real life energy (qi) is a matter of mixing yin and yang together. Then there is peace and harmony. This mixing together is yi wei, in which the urge to action (yang) is checked by the yin aspect.

He points out that to be alone, friendless and without resources is the average person’s idea of hell, yet it is the actual position of the most successful people who go out on a limb. The prince cannot always trust those around him and must stand alone. To sustain such a position requires great self-control.

Things do not work out as we expect. There is something deeply ironic about how life unfolds. Ambitions often lead to disaster, yet every cloud has a silver lining.

The phrase “What people teach, I also teach,” introduces the sentence that follows, which, presumably, was a well known adage to the effect that the strong and hard cannot endure.

A “strong beam person” may mean a ruffian or a person with a forceful approach to life. Some translators render this phrase as “a bad man comes to a bad end”, which is certainly one of the implications, but there is within it the image of a horizontal beam that must hold up a lot of weight. The Taoist tries not to put him or herself into such a stressful position.

“Yi wei is my religion” sums up Lao Tzu’s approach. Don’t rush in, don’t get carried away by ambition or over blown ideas about oneself. Mix the yin with the yang and you will live long.

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Bombu Quote

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on January 27, 2020 at 11:25 0 Comments

Quote from Anthony De Mello:
“…in awareness you will understand that honour doesn’t mean a thing. It’s a social convention, that’s all. That’s why the mystics and the prophets didn’t bother one bit about it. Honour or disgrace meant nothing to them. They were living in another world, in the world of the awakened. Success or failure meant nothing to them. They had the attitude: “I’m an ass, you’re an ass, so where’s the problem?”

Namo Amida Bu( ;

Sagesse féline...

Posted by Tamuly Annette on September 29, 2019 at 12:00 1 Comment

En l'absence de Darmavidya, j'ai - en ma qualité de voisine et d'amie - le privilège de m'occuper (un peu) de Tara, la petite chatte. C'est un bonheur  de la voir me faire la fête chaque fois que je me rends à Eleusis: elle s'étire, se roule sur le dos au soleil ou saute sur mes genoux. J'ignore si elle a profité de l'enseignement du maître des lieux, mais j'ai comme l'impression qu'elle me donne une belle leçon de sagesse: elle…



Posted by David Brazier on August 20, 2019 at 21:38 3 Comments

At the moment I am feeling very sad for the state of the planet. As I write the great forests are being consumed by fire, both the tropical forest in Brazil and the tundra forest in Russia. The great forests are the lungs of the earth. I myself have lung problems. When there are parts of the lungs that don’t work anymore one can run out of energy. It can strike suddenly. We will probably not do anything serious about climate change or wildlife extinction…


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