* TAO TE CHING COMMENTARY

Here I shall post my work on the Tao Te Ching, the classic book by Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism. By scolling down to the end you can see the complete text so far in English and in Chinese.

The Book of Tao and Te is one of the oldest philosophical works and it has been a source book for the Taoist religion. In modern times, many people find its philosophy inspiring and it has been translated numerous times into English. However, the meaning of many passages is open to debate. Recent finds in old tombs have thrown some light and some confusion upon theories about the origin of the work. Without getting too much lost in these technicalities I have tried to bring them somewhat into account in making this new line by line translation and commentary.

Chapter One

道 可 道 , 非 常 道 。
名 可 名 , 非 常 名 。

無 名 天 地 之 始,
有 名 萬 物 之 母 。

故 常 無 , 欲 以 觀 其 妙
常 有 , 欲 以 觀 其 徼 。
此 兩 者 , 同 出 而 異 名
同 謂 之 玄 。
玄 之 又 玄,
眾 妙 之 門 。

The tao that you can tao is not the enduring Tao
Names that you can name are not the enduring Name

Without name is the origin of Heaven and Earth
Having names is the mother of the myriad things

From of old, without desire, one sees into its wonder
Constantly with desire, one sees its boundaries
These two are exactly the same, but have different names
Both are called mysterious
Mystery of mysteries
Gateway to deep wonder

COMMENTARY

Introduction: Knowing the Different Ways

This is the opening section of the Taoist classic. One hesitates to try to write any kind of commentary at all. It is the kind of text that is meant to seep into one. like Scotch mist. You can read this passage over and over again and continue to glean something profound from it each time.

It speaks of a deep mysteriousness about life and experience. It tells us that there is a Way of Heaven and Earth - an enduring Way - that is different from the ways of human-kind. We can surmise that the Way of Heaven and Earth is to do with yin and yang and with the patterns that are discerned through the I Ching. So there is an interesting paradox here. What is enduring is change.

To the ancient peoples it was very important to know, as best one could, the way of Heaven. This was closely associated with ideas about the ancestors. What did the ancestors need and what did they intend? On the one hand the living had a duty toward the dead. On the other hand the dead had wisdom for the living. This wisdom, however, evolved with the changing situation. It is more intuitive than principled.

The Way of Heaven was often only discernible through signs in the Earth. The phenomena of the natural world give a certain access to the Way of Heaven. A person who would be a sage must pay attention to nature. It is in nature that the patterns that are formalised in the I Ching have their most spontaneous manifestation. Leonardo da Vinci believed that one of the most valuable things that a person could do is to go out and study the forms and patterns of nature.

A good part of the philosophy that the Book of Tao and Te is going to impart has to do with spontaneity and authenticity, or, we can say, with not posing nor putting on affectations. These latter are very characteristic of the way of humankind. There is more than a hint in the first line that one cannot know the Way of Heaven and Earth by contrivance.

So the book is going to describe a certain kind of virtue (te), different from the norms of conventional society. We can already gather that this includes a facility in knowing what it is to have few desires, yet also knowing what it is to have desires, when they arise naturally and are not excessive. We are told that depending upon which state one inhabits one will get a different view of things, in one case entering into the mystery and in the other case seeing the surface or boundary. We can see these as related to the two different kinds of way. The human way is concerned with boundaries, surfaces and appearances, whereas the Way of heaven and Earth is limitless and free, yet not featureless. It manifests through signs that are ceaselessly evolving.

Also, this is not saying, imperatively, to never have desires and always be in the mode of simplicity, etc. It is saying that both modes exist and in one you will experience things one way and in the other the other. So there is no perfectionism - not even being perfectly Taoistic. There are many commentaries on this work and a number of them suggest a more perfectionist interpretation than seems to me to be supported by the text.

Tao & Ming

The first phrases have impact. If you can tao it it is not Tao. If you can name it, it is not the Name. So there is a sense of a Tao and a Name that are beyond our ken. This is like the idea of God having a hundred names but humans can only know ninety-nine of them. However, although the Tao is ungraspable, it is somehow very close at hand.

We also need to take on that ming 名 meaning name does not have exactly the same meaning as "name" in English. in many ancient cultures, things have a customary designation and a secret name. The name is not imparted to just anybody. It has power over the person, spirit or thing that it belongs to. The second line - The ming that you can ming are not the enduring Ming - is telling us that we are here talking about something whose secret name is never going to be possessed by us humans and, therefore, we are never going to have power or control over it. By its natural grace and function we can use it, find it reliable and receive endless benefits from it, but we cannot reduce it to being under our control or dominance. We are its servants and it is not ours.

To See the Wonders

There is also something important here about process. The wonders that are referred to are not static. One has the impression that they seethe in a creative fashion.

This philosophy is opposed to the view that aims for clarity, consciousness, measurement, control and invariable principles. Such a view was held by the Legalists of Ancient China who wanted to codify everything and make it quite clear what was right and what wrong, what good and what bad and so on. That view assumes the humans are capable of a much greater degree of knowledge and self-control than Lao Tzu attributes to us. The philosophy of the Tao is one in which we are guided by messages that emanate from sources that we do not understand and do not control and the suggestion is that this is a much healthier and more realistic way to proceed. We can stand in awe and wonder before the great mystery, but only in those times when we divest ourselves of personal agendas and intention to manipulate. Otherwise we only investigate the more superficial mysteries. These latter are the material of our sciences. We can know their ming and manipulate them, but doing so is only one part of the meaning of life, and of the two parts it is the lesser one.

Chapter Two

天 下 皆 知 美 之 為 美
斯 惡 已 。
皆 知 善 之 為 善
斯 不 善 已 。

有 無 相 生
難 易 相 成
長 短 相 形
高 下 相 盈
音 聲 相 和
前 後 相 隨 。

是 以 聖 人
處 無 為 之 事
行 不 言 之 教 ﹔

萬 物 作 而 弗 始 ,
生 而 弗 有 ,
為 而 弗 恃 ,
功 成 而 不 居 。

夫 唯 弗 居 , 是 以 不 去 。

That everybody sees beauty as beautiful
is not beautiful.
That everybody sees goodness as good
is not good.

Is and is not promote one another
Ill and ease frame one another
Long and short define each other
Superior and inferior bow to one another
Pure notes and rough sounds harmonise
Front and back are always together

Therefore, the sage,
makes not acting his habit
and not speaking his religion,
makes myriad things, but without initiating,
gives birth without taking possession,
acts without imposing

gets results without laying claim.
Precisely because he lays no claim, he is not deserted.

 

COMMENTARY

Popular Opinion Detracts

天 下 皆 知 美 之 為 美
斯 惡 已 。
皆 知 善 之 為 善
斯 不 善 已 。

That everybody sees beauty as beautiful
is not beautiful.
That everybody sees goodness as good
is not good.

Old Chinese is very succinct and therefore, to an extent, ambiguous. Several other ways in which you could understand the Chinese are as follows.
1. If everyone takes something as beautiful, that in itself makes it ugly.
2. If everyone thinks something beautiful, you can be sure it is ugly.
3. As soon as people start calling things, beautiful, the idea of ugliness comes into the world

This section introduces us to one of the basic principles of Taoist philosophy. Although simple, it has a number of different nuances or implications that are reflected in the possible renderings of the Chinese given above.

The main point, brought out in my rendering, is that the Taoist philosophy suggests that judgements of goodness, beauty, status and so on are unwise. The worldly world has everything graded and measured on vertical scales, but the Tao is not like that. This does not mean that there is no beauty or goodness. It means that comparison is invidious. The sage does not make comparisons of this kind.

The book of Tao suggests that true beauty and true kindness are rare and difficult to recognise, but if you do recognise them, keep it to yourself. These are mysteries. Common ideas are not be be trusted, so don't be taken in by them, but don't get upset about them either. The sage sees that if everybody thinks something, then it is probably wrong, and even if it is not wrong now, it soon will be, so he is not seduced by popularity, but, on the other hand, since he is concerned for the good of the people, he does not stir up conflict about it either. Popular judgements are likely to stir trouble enough..

This is not just about the nature of popular taste. We can acknowledge that judging things by popularity tends toward mediocrity. However, the Tao Te Ching is suggesting more, namely that the very fact of the mass of people coming to an opinion about something itself brings the opposite into being. If everybody suddenly decided that blue was the best colour, the implication would be that all other colours are second rate. So singling something out for special praise devalues everything else. The net effect is to create more dissatisfaction than satisfaction.

The same is true with honouring people. By making one person special, all other people are demoted. Therefore the sage avoids such honours, or, if he receives them, does not put much store by them. There are many Taoist stories about great sages being asked by the emperor to come to the capital and become great figures in the realm and the sage saying that he would be happier staying at home and tending his vegetable patch. Of course, although these stories make their point, in actual history, many Taoist's did take government office and become mixed up in imperial politics, but humans are human.

So the idea here is that yin and yang create each other. Whenever something is stretched, something shrinks. The world is like a complex of seesaws - if one end goes up the other goes down.

Proceeding by Contrasts

有 無 相 生
難 易 相 成
長 短 相 形
高 下 相 盈
音 聲 相 和
前 後 相 隨 。

Is and is not promote one another
Ill and ease frame one another
Long and short define each other
Superior and inferior bow to one another
Pure notes and rough sounds harmonise
Front and back are always together

 

These are fairly clear philosophical points, but they are also practical maxims. When something is asserted, it is often valuable to consider the converse that is being hidden. This relates also to the maxim that whatever is standing forth in one time will pass in due course.

The Book of Tao has quite a lot of application to politics. In the political domain, what is in favour now will probably give way to its opposite in due course. It is well-known that those wishing to start a revolution will provoke the authorities in the hope of getting an over-reaction which, even though it oppresses the revolutionaries in the short run, will, in due course lead to more people joining the revolution.

On the other hand, there is also an implicit design principle here: always build in both sides of any antimony. In a garden, don't just have tall plants - it will look much more harmonious with a mixture of tall and short. In a house, have some big rooms and some small ones. In an organisation there is bound to be a hierarchy of some kind, but it is important to recognise that the humble roles are just as much part of the whole scheme as the illustrious ones. The last line, as well as being an obvious truism, also has relevance to an army - the troops at the front depend upon the troops behind.

So an aspect of this teaching is that everything has an appropriate place at any given point in time, and apparent opposites depend upon one another, but also that things will inevitably change in time, so beware of one sided views and avoid adding to them.

Laying No Claim

是 以 聖 人
處 無 為 之 事
行 不 言 之 教 ﹔

萬 物 作 而 弗 始 ,
生 而 弗 有 ,
為 而 弗 恃 ,
功 成 而 不 居 。

夫 唯 弗 居 , 是 以 不 去 。

Therefore, the sage,
makes not acting his habit
and not speaking his religion,
makes myriad things, but without initiating,
gives birth without taking possession,
acts without imposing

gets results without laying claim.
Precisely because he lays no claim, he is not deserted.

The sage is effective yet unobtrusive, gets things done, but with a minimum of fuss. This is the Taoist ideal, to do things but claim no credit.

When it says, "not acting" and "not speaking", what is meant is not endless silence and inactivity, but rather not posing, bragging or doing anything artificial, especially not drawing attention to oneself.The sage has no wish to be the centre of all that happens. He is interested in being of service in ways that facilitate wholesome change and growth, but he has no blue print for others or for how the world should be. He trusts the natural unfolding of things.

無 為 wu wei is a key term in Taoism. It is often translated as "non-action" but a better rendering is probably "not acting", as in acting on the stage. Taoism is about being natural and free from affectation. It sees this not just as a virtue, but more especially as the best way of getting things done, and done in a manner that does not carry within it the seeds of the undoing of what has been done.

In this way, the sage is somewhat like a force of nature that has its effect and then flows on without looking back. This is also the spirit of classicism. Works of skill and beauty are generated, but the author disappears. Lao Tzu would consider we modern people to be obsessed with personality, both our own and that of others. He would have found the creation of celebrities immature and foolish.

The sage does not lay claim to anything, but for this very reason things are drawn to him. People feel safe with him. Therefore, he is not deserted. What he needs comes naturally. Here there is an aspect of trusting in providence. So this is a path that involves little or no calculating, and especially not the calculating of personal advantage. The sage does not ask what is his own personal profit. What comes, comes. Yet because he makes no demands on others, much come naturally.

Chapter Three

不 尚 賢 ,
使 民 不 爭 ﹔
不 貴 難 得 之 貨 ,
使 民 不 為 盜 ﹔
不 見 可 欲 ,
使 民 心 不 亂 。

是 以 聖 人 之 治 .
虛 其 心 ,
實 其 腹 ,
弱 其 志 ,
強 其 弱 。

常 使 民 無 知 無 欲 。
使 夫 智 者 不 敢 為 也 。
為 無 為 , 則 無 不 治 。



Not esteeming the clever and good, keeps the people from contention.
Not valuing what is hard to obtain keeps the people from theft.
Not gazing at adorable things keeps the people from disorder in the heart.

Therefore, the sage governs by
emptying his heart
trusting his gut
weakening his will
strengthening his weakness

Mostly one needs people without wisdom, without desire, and one needs that those who do have wisdom do not dare to act, or at least, “act without acting” - rule without misgovernment.

COMMENTARY

Not Encouraging Discontent


不 尚 賢 ,
使 民 不 爭 ﹔
不 貴 難 得 之 貨 ,
使 民 不 為 盜 ﹔
不 見 可 欲 ,
使 民 心 不 亂 。

Not esteeming the clever and good, keeps the people from contention.
Not valuing what is hard to obtain keeps the people from theft.
Not gazing at adorable things keeps the people from disorder in the heart.

The character 使 means ”to use”, so this section implies a little more than it is easy to bring out by the translation. There is a sense that the Tao Te Ching is written as advice for the wise ruler. Being a ruler is a bit like being an artist or craftsman with the people as the clay or material. If the ruler is trying to make a thing of beauty from the people, then contention, theft and disorder are blemishes in the desired work. A poor artist - let us say a wood carver - starts off with a plan and a fixed idea of the desired end product - something good, rare and adorable. These qualities are lauded. However, the particular piece of wood already has qualities of its own. The skilled craftsman works with the qualities that are already inherent in the material and does not hold up abstract ideals that must be conformed to. In the end, by working with the natural grain, something good, rare and adorable does, indeed, emerge, but not from a process of imposition. The same is true in governing a state or community. If one sets up goals and incentives and set one tends to set people against one another. If you run things on a basis of gain and loss, people will value getting over giving and will start cheating and stealing. If you give more attention to favourites, people will have turmoil in their hearts.

Instinct not Contrivance

是 以 聖 人 之 治 .
虛 其 心 ,
實 其 腹 ,
弱 其 志 ,
強 其 弱 。

Therefore, the sage governs by
emptying his heart
trusting his gut
weakening his will
strengthening his weakness

This could as well apply to governing the people or governing oneself. To empty the heart means to have few desires or attachments. I have translated 實 其 腹 as “trusting his gut” which I think conveys much of the sense to a modern Western reader. I more precise rendering would be "trusts the hara". Some translators take it to mean “fill the stomach” but i think that is an error. The Taoists practised a yoga that involved concentrating energy in the hara - the region just below the navel - and this is still practised in martial arts and other oriental exercises. The first character 實 implies faith, trust and value.

The character 志 - "will" - also means "ambition". So the sage has few ambitions. These two last lines are a very fine expression of the Taoist attitude - weaken the will, strengthen one’s weakness. There is strength in weakness, which is to say in humility and flexibility. There is resilience in adaptability. The rigid snaps where the flexible bends. The characters for strength and weakness both contain the element 弓which is a picture of a bow. In weakness, 弱, it occurs twice. A bow is a good symbol for Taoist principles because it implies strength and weakness at the same time. The bow is a weapon, hence strength, but it’s utility depends upon its flexibility. Also, when the bow is drawn, the bottom is brought up and the top is brought down - another symbol for Taoist social principles.

Wei Wu Wei

常 使 民 無 知 無 欲 。
使 夫 智 者 不 敢 為 也 。
為 無 為 , 則 無 不 治 。

Mostly one needs people without wisdom, without desire, and one needs that those who do have wisdom do not dare to act, or at least, “act without acting” - rule without misgovernment.

In a state or community there is more need for ordinary people than for leaders, and it is better if people have few desires. The small number who do have leadership ability should be cautious and not over-govern. They should act when necessary but only because it is necessary, not in order to put on airs or display their own cleverness. The slogan wei wu wei “act without acting” in which the first “act” means do what is necessary and the second “act” means pose or perform, runs all through the book and is a main plank of Lao Tzu’s philosophy. Misgovernment occurs when the ruler or leader is serving his own ego rather than the needs of the community. Ego is a performance - an act that a person puts on.

Many translators gloss this section as meaning that the sage deliberately keeps people ignorant, but I think that is going too far beyond the text.

Conclusion

This chapter is about leadership and government and applies to groups of any size from a small community up to a state or empire.

It suggests that the good ruler “strengthens his weakness” in the sense of making himself into a servant of truth, emptying his heart of vanity and desire and responding to need without putting on airs.

It further suggests that it is more important to make people content than competitive. You need a few people with leadership capacity, but not too many and the ones that there are do well to remain inconspicuous.


Chapter Four


TEXT:

道 沖 , 而 用 之 或 不 盈 。
淵 兮 , 似 萬 物 之 宗 ﹔

挫其鋭,解其纷,和其光,同其尘。

湛 兮 , 似 或 存 。
吾 不 知 誰 之 子 , 象 帝 之 先 。


The Tao flows out, and yet use will never exhaust it.
How it gushes forth! It is like the ancestral temple of the myriad things;

Broken up its sharpness
Delivered its multiplicity
And its light
With its dust

So deep! It could be existence itself.
I don’t know whose child it is,
It is like a trace of the First Emperor.



COMMENTARY

Over-Flowing


道 沖 , 而 用 之 或 不 盈 。

The Tao flows out, and yet use will never exhaust it.

The text actually says, “use will not fill it”. The sense here, therefore is of the fertile void. From emptiness comes everything. Even in modern physics, the implication is probably that everything comes from nothing, that for all this matter that we encounter, there is, somewhere, anti-matter, so that the whole cosmos originates from a void. In the ultimate analysis, everything cancels out. However, from that void comes forth everything. The Chinese equivalent is the idea that with yin, yang and with yang, yin. So the Tao, which is the mysterious whole, is endlessly generating yin and yang out of its fertile voidness. We make use of what emerges, but we tend to not take into account its endless fecundity. We like completeness, but the Tao is always overflowing.

The Unquenchable Source


淵 兮 , 似 萬 物 之 宗

How it gushes forth! It is like the ancestral temple of the myriad things.

Gushing forth 淵 gives us the image of a plentiful spring coming from deep in the ground, charming, life giving, fresh and mysterious.

We come from our ancestors. Everything has an ancestry. The ancestors are the source. This is karma. Therefore, the Chinese say it is good to worship ancestors because they are the source and so in Chinese religion, as in many ancient religions, there is little distinction between ancestors and gods. The gods are the ancestors and the ancestors are gods. The Tao is the ancestor of everything. We go to the ancestral temple to give thanks, praise and ask for help and guidance. The Tao is endlessly beneficent.

I have translated 物 here as “things” because, clearly, the Tao is conceived as affecting everything, not just what we now regard as animate beings. However, 物 can also mean “creature” and the character is definitely a schematic picture of an animal. If we go back to the epoch in which the book was composed, it is probable that a much wider range of “things” were considered to be “animate” than is the case today. The ancients had a much more vitalistic perspective. Rocks, rivers, clouds, mountains and seas all had their spirits and dragons. It is difficult in a modern translation to get across this very different sense of the world.

A Beam of Light


挫其鋭,解其纷,和其光,同其尘。

Broken up its sharpness
Delivered its multiplicity
And its light
With its dust

The translation of this section is not certain. Different translators have taken it in different ways and Chinese writers too. It is probably a quote from another work now lost. It may well refer to a beam of light in a room. The yang energy of the sun is broken up by the dust giving an image of multiplicity. This would certainly be a good image of the Taoist message. The yang light of the sun is pure but we cannot look at it directly without blinding ourselves. It is too sharp. Yet if we think of a beam of light across a room, it is beautiful to see all the tiny dust particles floating in it breaking up the light. Dust is yin, being dark and of the earth. This interaction of dust and light is an established trope in China. It famously reappears in the story of Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch of Zen, in an exchange of poems that are all about mirrors, dust and light, illustrating the meaning of Zen in terms that would readily resonate in Chinese minds. Thus, in the Taoist scheme, from the Tao come yin and yang and the interaction of yang and yin give rise to multiplicity, so this image is a fine illustration, and more than just a metaphor since it is an instance.

Other translators have made different things of this passage.

D.T.Suzuki & P.Carus have: “It will blunt its own sharpness/ Will its tangles adjust/ It will dim its own radiance/ And be one with its dust.”
Tam C.Gibbs has: “Blunting sharp edges/ Resolving confusions/ Diffusing glare/ Uniting the world”
Arthur Waley has “In it all sharpness is blunted/ All tangles untied/ All glare tempered/ All dust smoothed.”

I think that these all attempt to preserve some of the poetry of the original, but do depart somewhat from the Chinese, especially in the third and fourth lines. To make sense of it there has to be an under-lying image and I feel that my suggestion of the beam of light does the trick, but there is no way of knowing for sure.

“Dust” 尘 does have the implication in Chinese as in English of the dust of mundane life, hence Gibbs' final line, and an implication of this kind is not out of place, but I think it is an allusion not the direct intended meaning of the phrase.

As you can see by looking at the 12 characters, the Chinese is more elegant than the English, rather as though the English were written...

                     Broken up   its   sharpness                       挫其鋭,
Delivered   its   multiplicity                       解其纷,
And   its   light                       和其光
With   its   dust                       同其尘



The character 解 that I have rendered “delivered” and others have glossed in a variety of ways, is, inter alia, the name of the fortieth hexagram in the I Ching, “Deliverence”. This hexagram is about restoring peace and security. This is brought about by, on the one hand, clarity, yet, at the same time, pardon and forgiveness. The superior person sees clearly what needs doing and restores harmony by being kind to those who have made mistakes or committed misdeeds. The image of the hexagram is “arousing thunder above and water of the abyss below.” Thus yang and yin are in their proper places and order is about to be restored in a peaceful manner. Following from this, I think that delivering multiplicity with its light and its dust is about right. The dust of mistakes and misdeeds is transformed into a means of enhancing the clarity and light.

Unfathomable


湛 兮 , 似 或 存 。

So deep! It could be existence itself.

The Tao is unfathomable, like water rising from the abyss. Since everything arises from it, it is existence itself, but not in a mundane sense. It is the sacredness of existence: it's profundity. The character for deep 湛 also contains the water element. So this is a bit the same as life deriving from the ocean and also consciousness from unconsciousness, light in the midst of the dark.

Trace of the Supreme Ancestor


吾 不 知 誰 之 子 , 象 帝 之 先 。

I don’t know whose child it is.
It is like a trace of the First Emperor


If the Tao is the source of everything, what is the source of the Tao? I don't know, says, Lao Tzu. In other words, there is a limit to human enquiry. there are things we cannot know. There will always be a stopping point beyond which one cannot go. In Buddhist philosophy, Nagarjuna made the same point, but Lao Tzu does it in much simpler language. The word that I have translated as trace - 象 – is actually a picture of an elephant. In China you do not find elephants in historical times, though occasionally one might come across a skeleton of one from prehistory. From the skeleton you can try to guess what the beast actually looked like. Hence this character has come to imply a vague appearance of that kind. Chinese history goes back a long way. The first emperor is a very shadowy figure. In Chinese culture, the first emperors were rather super-human figures who did things like establishing civilisation and teaching the people the art of irrigation and flood control which are absolute essentials in Northern China where the headwaters of the Yellow River are erratic easily leading to disastrous floods downstream where most people live. The river also brings the loess soil that makes the plains fertile and gave rise to the earliest cultures. Thus, the first emperor is the supreme ancestor and, therefore, a bit like God.

The image of the Tao flowing out is not unlike the image of the life giving river upon which Chinese civilisation depended. The Yellow River plays an enormous part in Chinese mythology, story telling and literary imagery. It is both the provider and the divider. The Tao likewise. The Yellow (or Golden) River thus symbolises everything on earth, both its fertility and also its problems and divisions. The Chinese also saw the Milky Way as the equivalent phenomenon in Heaven. To them, the Milky way is the Silver River. It similarly symbolises the beneficence of Heaven, but also its division. For the Chinese, the equivalent of Shangri La was the place where the two rivers met. Various folk stories talk of people riding fragile boats to this wonderful place, and sometimes, but not always, returning


Chapter Five

天 地 不 仁 , 以 萬 物 為 芻 狗 ﹔
聖 人 不 仁 , 以 百 姓 為 芻 狗 。

天 地 之 間 , 其 猶 橐 籥 乎 。
虛 而 不 屈 , 動 而 愈 出 。

多 言 數 窮 , 不 如 守 中 。

Heaven and Earth are not “benevolent”.
They treat the myriad things as acting as straw dogs
The sage is not “benevolent”.
He treats the people as acting as straw dogs

The space between Heaven and Earth - isn't it like a bagpipe?
Empty yet unfailing. The more you work it the more comes out.

Fancy speech adds nothing,
Not as if defending something central.



COMMENTARY

Coherence Problems
It seems quite possible that the sections of this chapter did not originally go together. Recent researches suggest, in fact, that Tao te Ching may have originally begun with what is now chapter 25 and that the middle lines of this chapter 5 may have followed on directly from 25. The beginning and end of this chapter would then belong elsewhere, or might not be part of the original book at all. Another possibility is that what we now have a one book was compiled from two previous books plus a variety of other short oddments. In any case, it can now be argued that the three sections that make up this “chapter” are not connected with each other in any original or thematic way. However, somebody at some stage did decide to put them together and presumably had some reason for doing so. D.C.Lau has suggested that the  first two sections were put together simply because both contain the phrase "Heaven and Earth". However, the third does not so this is possible, but not totally convincing.

The Straw Dogs Section
The image of straw dogs is universally agreed to be taken from traditional ritual in which dogs made of straw were used. Presumably this custom substituted for what had once been the sacrifice of live animals. Interpretation of the passage depends on how we take the character 仁 and what we think that the use of straw dogs implies. 仁 is a key term in Confucianism, meaning benevolent or humane. The character is made up of the symbols for a man and the number two, hence being about right conduct between two or more people. Thus 不 仁  can be construed as “ruthless”. This is not an impossible translation, though ruthlessness does not seem to be a normal characteristic of sages. One can take it that the sage needs to have a degree of objectivity that avoids being caught up in emotion, but the passage still strikes one as out of kilter with much of the rest of the work.

Most commentators take the meaning as being that straw dogs are used in ceremonies and then cast away (ruthlessly) when no longer needed. However, there is another possibility which is that the use of straw dogs was actually an act of compassion, sparing real dogs from slaughter.

Now Taoism is generally somewhat opposed to Confucianism regarding it as unnatural and hypocritical which is why I have put quotation marks around the word “benevolence” in my translation. So are there other possible readings of the meaning? I think so. If the sage is not “benevolent”, what is he? Perhaps, naturally sympathetic. If the people act as straw dogs, what does this mean? Perhaps that they are caught up in a situation that they have no control over. This is something that a modern person can also sympathise with. Get up in the morning, put on appropriate clothes, go to the office or factory, follow all the procedures, go home on the commuter train... is this not the life of a straw dog? Yet the common man or woman feels that they have little or no choice in the matter. Life is a big ritual from which the real animals have long since disappeared.

If we take it this way, it gives a much more compassionate picture of the sage, or good man, as somebody who sympathises with the fact that people are much of the time in the position of straw dogs, liable to be sacrificed, and therefore victims of a social system dominated by ritual. Taken this way, the verse constitutes a rather withering criticism of Confucian formalism – and, anachronistically, of much of modern society. To me this seems to ring more true to the Tao Te book as a whole and Taoist philosophy in general.

Bellows or Bagpipe
In the current stage of research, out of the material of this chapter, the middle lines have the best claim to antiquity, but this is not certain. The fact that something appears in the earliest version that we have got definitely tells us that this verse is at least that old, but it does not tell us whether the other parts were added later or whether the early version is just an extract from a more complete work.

In all the other translations that I have seen the image for these middle lines is a bellows. My researches suggest that it may have been a musical instrument of the bagpipe type. The Chinese characters suggest a bag open at both ends connected to a pipe or pipes. This clearly could be either bellows or bagpipe. It does not matter very much because the moral would be the same, though perhaps I could argue that Heaven and Earth producing music is more suitable and more Taoistic than it producing air to stoke a fire, but there is no way of clinching the point.

We can see that the underlying idea is that of a fertile void and that as you use it so you get something back. So this void is reliable.

Fancy Speech
This final section could be a stand alone saying, but it does not really look like one. It looks more like a final comment that could have been added later by whoever put the first two verses together. It certainly expresses a distinctly Taoist attitude, namely that things should be plain, simple and straight-forward and not wrapped up in high-sounding rhetoric nor fenced around with rules and regulations.

Another View
So if we defy the speculations and conventions of modern scholarship and take it for a minute that to somebody at some stage in its development this chapter in three verses did make sense as a single unit, what can we say for it?

If the play on the word benevolence in the first and third lines is indeed ironic, then there is a direct connection with the last verse. The meaning could be taken as...

The sage is not “benevolent”.
He feels real compassion for people as victims of the rituals of formal society
Fancy speech adds nothing,
Not as if defending something central.

and this would be perfectly coherent.

The middle section could then be understood as amplifying the 'not “benevolent”' idea. Heaven and Earth are not following a rule that “Thou shalt be benevolent”, they are simply by their natural capacity for allowing space and freedom, making it possible for harmony (music) to emerge from the ordinary efforts of ordinary people.

Perhaps this is too contrived, or perhaps not, but I don't think that we should despair of seeing deep meaning here, and a meaning of a naturally compassionate and not ruthless nature.

Chapter Six

谷 神 不 死 , 是 謂 玄 牝 。
玄 牝 之 門 , 是 謂 天 地 根 。

帛系  若 存 , 用 之 不 勤 。


The valley spirit does not die
We call it deeply female

The deeply female gateway
We call the source of Earth and Heaven

Gentle care is tender
It's employment is not hard.


COMMENTARY

Evidently this short chapter is about tender care preserving life. It is also about humility and homeliness. The valley is where people live and make their homes. So this chapter is an image of humble settled life.

There is also a sexual or repoructive under-current running through it implicit in the entrance to the female being the source of things. Valleys, ravines, entrances, and the deep all allude to the female body.

So I think that the general moral of this chapter is “Make love not war”.

One could also make a certain amount out of what is implied about the relations of Heaven and Earth, since here it is the female, which in this system is yin, which is Earth, that is the source and origin. So while we are used to the idea that God made the Earth in seven days, and all that, here, in the Taoist conception, it is the Earth that is the originator.

Then again, there is a mystical tone. The divinity of the valley is deeply female, which can also here mean mysteriously so. As there are a million valleys, so there can be a myriad divinities. So here is a lesson of tolerance and multiplicity.

Chapter Seven

 
天 長 地 久 。
天 地 所
以 能 長 且 久 者 ,
以 其 不 自 生 ,
故 能 長 生 。
是 以 聖 人 後 其 身 而 身 先 ﹔
外 其 身 而 身 存 。
非 以 其 無 私 邪 。
故 能 成 其 私 。

Heaven is long. Earth is long.
As for Heaven and Earth
He who can use them for ever and ever
is he who lives long by not living for himself.
Putting himself behind he comes out ahead,
putting himself outside he finds himself included.
His ends are achieved
because he does not activate evil.


COMMENTARY

The last shall be first. The most prudent course is think of others before thinking of oneself. There is a typically Taoist mixture of altruistic imperative and prudent self-interest here. The real way to look after ourself is to look after the others.

In this, heaven and Earth are examples. They benefit us endlessly, and so they endure. They go on for ever and ever. The person who wishes not die in spirit should imitate them. By abandoning self-centredness he finds that things work out for him in mysterious ways.

We become self-centred because we fear that if we do not love ourselves and take care of number one nobody else will. However, there are hidden forces at work.

The passage that I have translated “because he does not active his own dark side” is 非 以 其 無 私 邪 which literally means “Does not use his impersonal evil”. The notion of impersonal evil  無 私 邪 is interesting, being close to the Buddhist notion “this is not me, this is not mine, this is not myself.” We fall into bad ways because at some level we identify with them.

Chapter Eight

   

上 善 若 水 。

水 善 利 萬 物 而 不 爭 ,

處 眾 人 之 所 惡 , 故 幾 於 道 。


居 善 地 , 心 善 淵 ,

與 善 仁 , 言 善 信 ,

政 善 治 , 事 善 能 ,

動 善 時 。

夫 唯 不 爭 , 故 無 尤 。

The best goodness is like water.

Water kindly benefits the myriad creatures without contending.

It is quite like the Tao in settling where most people don't want to be.

A good site makes a good home

Profundity makes a good mind

Generosity makes a good heart

Trustworthiness makes good speech

Order makes good government

Effectiveness makes good deeds

Timeliness makes good actions.

In this way, not contending is not offendng.

COMMENTARY

The example of water as a model of how the Tao functions is a central Taoist image. Water settles in the lowest place. It seems weak but is actually powerful. It's power comes from its relentless insistance on going down hill. Humans, on the other hand, are always trying to go up hill. The Taoist message is that it is better, and more effective, to follow the lesson of water.

Set up your home in a good spot. This, of course, can apply metaphorically as well as literally. Literally, one is talking about situating your building where it will not be in harm's way, on solid ground. Metaphorically, one is talking about taking one's stand on things that are easily defensible and do not stir up unnecessary trouble. The profound mind seeks for deeper meaning and does not get caught in superficial agrumentation. The generous heart makes plenty of room for others to live their lives in their own way and assists when possible, but in a relaxed and open-handed manner. We have already seen how Taoism aligns with plain speech. In government it is good to avoid arbitrariness, which may seem to give short term advantage but establishes nothing solid. In this sense, good order is like finding a good site for one's house. It is important to take a long term view and lay down good foundations, then things will look after themselves much more easily. Taoism has a particular attitude to deeds and actions which is to do with there being a precise point or time when effectiveness is maximised. This is similar to the way that water find the weak point in a rock wall. The water seems to swirl about aimlessly, but if there is a crack or crevise, it will find it. There is a point where a minimum of pressure will produce a maximum of effect. This is the meaning here of effectiveness and timeliness.

So these points are set out in this list as an explanation of not contending, but this is not contending in the manner of water. Water triumphs in the end. In one sense water does not contend with the mountain, but, in the end, the mountain is washed away and carried to the sea. So here, “goodness” is not just an abstract moral quality. It is about a certain way of beinf effective in the world. That way is to be in accord with the Tao.

Chapter Nine

持而盈之不盈其己;

揣而锐之不可长保;

金玉满堂莫之能守;

富贵而骄,自遗其咎。

功遂身退,天之道。

Hold to an excess of non-excessiveness, this is not about self.

Hide the sharpness that cannot last long.

When gold and jade fill the hall, nobody can guard them..

Fame and fortune makes for pride, to lose oneself is not blameworthy.

When the work is done, retire: that is the way of heaven.

COMMENTARY

The first line refers to abundance, excess, over-flowing . It advocates an abundance of non-abundance 盈之不盈. This is a very Taoistic sentiment. As can also mean excess or over-flow, some commentators relate this to the idea of filling a vessel too full so that it spills over. In any case, the moral is clearly about restraint and avoiding self-inflation: pride comes before a fall.

Some versions of the text have 持而盈之不若. This could be rendered as holding to what does not suggest abundance. Again the moral is similar.

The second line may imply a sexual double-entendre. The first character, , had the original meaning of concealing under one's clothes. What is sharp, concealed under one's clothes and cannot last too long? An erect penis. This, of course, can also symbolise pride, and ideas of one's own potency. Again, the moral is to avoid rating oneself too highly, but also that of concealing one's strength. It is a Taoistic maxim that strength is more sustainable and more effective if concealed. A good general does not tell the enemy about his most powerful weapons nor about his best troops. He saves them for the vital moment.

The third line makes the same point a different way: when you have too much all on display you cannot guard it. It will soon be taken away from you. The wise rich man hides his treasures and goes about looking like a pauper. In the same way, the person rich in virtues presents himself as just another foolish sinner.

The fourth line spells out the moral and the fifth gives practical instruction on how to implement it. This is the Taoist ideal: do what needs doing without fuss and without taking credit.

The whole verse, therefore, is consistent and in Chinese it rhymes. The first two lines imply a contrast: “As for holding forth... As for concealing...” Display modesty, conceal potency.

A loose interpretation of the whole verse could, therefore, be

Display modesty

Conceal potency

Much displayed is soon lost

Shun pride

Self-effacement is no sin

Act then retire

Such is the way of Heaven.

Chapter 10

载营魄抱一,能毌離乎   
專氣至柔    嬰兒乎   
脩除玄監    能毌有疵乎    
民栝國   毌以知乎   
天門啟闔   能為雌乎   
明白四達   能毌以知乎 

  

生之畜之   

生而弗有   

畜而弗宰也

是胃玄德   


 

Unite body and soul – can you, without being dispersed?

Master the breath and be supple – can you, just as a child?

Cleanse the (inner) mirror - can you, free of all blemish?

Love the land and people as your own – can you, without putting on airs?

As the gates of heaven open and close, can you take the female part?

Make to shine the four attainments – can you, without affectation?

It gives birth and nurtures

Gives birth, yet without possessiveness

Nurtures, yet without oppression

A mysterious belly of kindness

COMMENTARY

This chapter lists four attainments that are goals of Taoist practice. They are as follows.

Firstly, to unite body and soul. This is essentially the same as the idea that we are both angels and beasts. Our animal nature involves us in instinctive behaviours and this is how we have our being within this material world. At the same time we also have intuitions of spiritual life that manifest at least as ideals. However, there is generally quite a gap between the ideal and the actual. This is a cause of inner tension. In the poem Sandokai, it says “With the ideal comes the actual, like a box all with its lid.” The encounter with reality often does “put the lid on” our ideals. The goal, therefore, is to arrive at a harmony between these sometimes seemingly irreconcilable dimensions. We could say, to find inner peace.

Secondly, to become supple as a child through mastery of the breath. It seems that yogic practices have been part of Taoism from an early date. We admire the carefreeness of the child. The child falls, cries for two minutes, and is then once again playing and climbing up the same branch that it fell from, with mother, heart-in-mouth, watching from a distance. The child has the capacity to bounce back where the adult tends to harbour hurts and defeats and make a much bigger meal of them. Of course, some of this is simply physical. Old bones are more brittle. The Taoists, however, believe that the suppleness of the child can be extended by living in accord with the Tao and one method for this is through attention to the breath.

Thirdly, cleansing the mirror. The “mirror” basically refers to what we might call the unconscious mind. There is, here, an ideal of emptiness. The notion of the mirror mind is of one that has no prejudice, no prior judgement nor hidden agenda. Generally, when we encounter something, we immediately fit it in to our pre-existing schema and so do not really stop, look and listen. The things that blemish our mirror are bitterness, greed, self-centredness, neuroses – our own personal madness. Can we let it go? Can one arrive at open-mindedness, open-heartedness? Without losing the fruits of experience, can there yet be a freshness to each perception, so that each new day is indeed new? each new encounter with an old friend a new discovery? with an old enemy a new beginning?

Fourthly, to love the land and people as one's own. We all love some things and some people, but universal love is another matter. We might hold it as an ideal, but that is likely only to lead to us putting on airs. The politician says how he deeply cares about the people, even if the only thing he cares about is getting their vote. We are all socialised into many ways of appearing to care even when we are bored or disinterested. Generally we care about the things we own or are associated with and not far beyond that. The ideal Taoist lives a simple life and, as he has little or nothing to defend “the world is his oyster.” The sage is kindly disposed to whoever comes along.

All this is called “taking the female part”. This is the yin part in the dance of yin and yang. The female part is to receive and to nurture. The yang, masculine, part is left to Heaven. Heaven's doors swing open and closed unpredictably. Good fortune comes. Bad fortune comes. Who knows what next? The person before you may be a saint or a villain – the heart is hidden. We undertake things and sometimes it brings success, sometimes failure, but, as often as not, some completely unexpected result that was not on our original list of possibilities. We discover there was what we expected, what we feared, but also other things that had not entered out imagination. Heaven is like that and we do best to receive and nurture what comes our way without chasing the water that is now gone under the bridge.

So, the text asks, can we manifest these four attainments – can we take the yin part – without pretending. As soon as we are given a goal, even a Taoist goal, we are likely to start scheming how to make it appear that we are closer to the goal than others. We pose and put on airs. Humans have a greater capacity for dissemblance than any other creature. The ideal Taoist employs this dissemblance the other way: he presents him or herself as further from the goal than is actually the case. In the sage, the four attainments are manifest, but only to those who look carefully and who know how to look.

The second part of the chapter describes the Tao and so, by implication, also the sage. It is a picture of generous fertility: to generate without possessiveness, to nurture without becoming authoritarian. Nature gives rise to huge diversity and each goes its way. This is like the parable of the Dharma rain in the Lotus Sutra: the rain germinates and nurtures all manner of plants, big and small, each with its own inherent characteristics. The rain enables each to thrive in its own way without seeking to control or make them all fit into a standard form. The sage is like this, wishing only that all beings may thrive, each on its particular path. The sage is a mysterious belly of kindness.

So loosely

Can you be at peace?

Can you have the resiliance of a child?

Are you free of bitterness?

Do you really care for all beings?

No matter what comes along, can you receive it graciously?

Is your real nature exemplary?

Generate and nurture

Generate but don't dominate

Nurture and set free

Be a mysterious belly of kindness.

COMPLETE TEXT SO FAR

Chapter One

The tao that you can tao is not the enduring Tao
Names that you can name are not the enduring Name
Without name is the origin of Heaven and Earth,
Having names is the mother of the myriad things.

From of old, without desire, one sees into its wonder.
Constantly with desire, one sees its boundaries.
These two are exactly the same, but have different names.
Both are called mysterious;
Mystery of mysteries -
Gateway to deep wonder.

Chapter Two

That everybody sees beauty as beautiful
is not beautiful.
That everybody sees goodness as good
is not good.

Is and is not promote one another;
Ill and ease frame one another;
Long and short define each other;
Superior and inferior bow to one another;
Pure notes and rough sounds harmonise;
Front and back are always together.

Therefore, the sage,
makes not acting his habit
and not speaking his religion;
makes myriad things, but without initiating,
gives birth without taking possession,
acts without imposing,
gets results without laying claim.
Precisely because he lays no claim, he is not deserted.

Chapter Three

Not esteeming the clever and good, keeps the people from contention.
Not valuing what is hard to obtain keeps the people from theft.
Not gazing at adorable things keeps the people from disorder in the heart.

Therefore, the sage governs by
emptying his heart
trusting his gut
weakening his will
strengthening his weakness

Mostly one needs people without wisdom, without desire, and one needs that those who do have wisdom do not dare to act, or at least, “act without acting” - rule without misgovernment.

Chapter Four

The Tao flows out, and yet use will never exhaust it.
How it gushes forth! It is like the ancestral temple of the myriad things;

Broken up its sharpness
Delivered its multiplicity
And its light
With its dust

So deep! It could be existence itself.
I don’t know whose child it is,
It is like a trace of the First Emperor.

Chapter Five

Heaven and Earth are not “benevolent”.
They treat the myriad things as acting as straw dogs
The sage is not “benevolent”.
He treats the people as acting as straw dogs

The space between Heaven and Earth - isn't it like a bagpipe?
Empty yet unfailing. The more you work it the more comes out.

Fancy speech adds nothing,
Not as if defending something central.

Chapter Six

The valley spirit does not die
We call it deeply female

The deeply female gateway
We call the source of Earth and Heaven

Gentle care is tender
It's employment is not hard.

Chapter Seven

Heaven is long. Earth is long.
As for Heaven and Earth
He who can use them for ever and ever
is he who lives long by not living for himself.
Putting himself behind he comes out ahead,
putting himself outside he finds himself included.
His ends are achieved
because he does not activate evil.

Chapter Eight

The best goodness is like water.

Water kindly benefits the myriad creatures without contending.

It is quite like the Tao in settling where most people don't want to be.

A good site makes a good home

Profundity makes a good mind

Generosity makes a good heart

Trustworthiness makes good speech

Order makes good government

Effectiveness makes good deeds

Timeliness makes good actions.

In this way, not contending is not offendng.

Chapter Nine

Hold to an excess of non-excessiveness, this is not about self.

Hide the sharpness that cannot last long.

When gold and jade fill the hall, nobody can guard them..

Fame and fortune makes for pride, to lose oneself is not blameworthy.

When the work is done, retire: that is the way of heaven.

Chapter Ten

Unite body and soul – can you, without being dispersed?

Master the breath and be supple – can you, just as a child?

Cleanse the (inner) mirror - can you, free of all blemish?

Love the land and people as your own – can you, without putting on airs?

As the gates of heaven open and close, can you take the female part?

Make to shine the four attainments – can you, without affectation?

It gives birth and nurtures

Gives birth, yet without possessiveness

Nurtures, yet without oppression

A mysterious belly of kindness

Complete Text So Far in Chinese

1. 老 子:  「道 德 經」 :  第 一 章

道 可 道 , 非 常 道 。
名 可 名 , 非 常 名 。

無 名 天 地 之 始
有 名 萬 物 之 母 。

故 常 無 , 欲 以 觀 其 妙
常 有 , 欲 以 觀 其 徼 。
此 兩 者 , 同 出 而 異 名
同 謂 之 玄 。
玄 之 又 玄
眾 妙 之 門 。

2. 老 子:  「道 德 經」 :  第 二 章

天 下 皆 知 美 之 為 美
斯 惡 已 。
皆 知 善 之 為 善
斯 不 善 已 。

有 無 相 生
難 易 相 成
長 短 相 形
高 下 相 盈
音 聲 相 和
前 後 相 隨 。

是 以 聖 人
處 無 為 之 事 ,
行 不 言 之 教 ﹔
萬 物 作 而 弗 始 ,
生 而 弗 有 ,
為 而 弗 恃 ,
功 成 而 不 居 。

夫 唯 弗 居 , 是 以 不 去 。

3. 老 子:  「道 德 經」 :  第 三 章

不 尚 賢 ,
使 民 不 爭 ﹔
不 貴 難 得 之 貨 ,
使 民 不 為 盜 ﹔
不 見 可 欲 ,
使 民 心 不 亂 。

是 以 聖 人 之 治 ,
虛 其 心 ,
實 其 腹 ,
弱 其 志 ,
強 其 弱 。

常 使 民 無 知 無 欲 。
使 夫 智 者 不 敢 為 也 。
為 無 為 , 則 無 不 治 。

4. 老 子:  「道 德 經」 :  第 四 章

道 沖 , 而 用 之 或 不 盈 。
淵 兮 , 似 萬 物 之 宗 ﹔

挫其鋭,解其纷,和其光,同其尘。

湛 兮 , 似 或 存 。
吾 不 知 誰 之 子 , 象 帝 之 先 。

5. 老 子:  「道 德 經」 :  第 五 章

天 地 不 仁 , 以 萬 物 為 芻 狗 ﹔
聖 人 不 仁 , 以 百 姓 為 芻 狗 。

天 地 之 間 , 其 猶 橐 籥 乎 。
虛 而 不 屈 , 動 而 愈 出 。

多 言 數 窮 , 不 如 守 中 。

6. 老 子:  「道 德 經」 :  第 六 章

谷 神 不 死 , 是 謂 玄 牝 。
玄 牝 之 門 , 是 謂 天 地 根 。帛系  若 存 , 用 之 不 勤 。

7. 老 子:  「道 德 經」 :  第 七 章

天 長 地 久 。
天 地 所
以 能 長 且 久 者 ,
以 其 不 自 生 , 故 能 長 生 。
是 以 聖 人 後 其 身 而 身 先 ﹔
外 其 身 而 身 存 。
非 以 其 無 私 邪 。
故 能 成 其 私 。

8. 老 子 「道 德 經」 第 八 章

   

上 善 若 水 。

水 善 利 萬 物 而 不 爭 ,

處 眾 人 之 所 惡 , 故 幾 於 道 。


居 善 地 , 心 善 淵 ,

與 善 仁 , 言 善 信 ,

政 善 治 , 事 善 能 ,

動 善 時 。

夫 唯 不 爭 , 故 無 尤 。

9.

持而盈之不盈其己;

揣而锐之不可长保;

金玉满堂莫之能守;

富贵而骄,自遗其咎。

功遂身退,天之道。

10.

载营魄抱一,能毌離乎   
專氣至柔    嬰兒乎   
脩除玄監    能毌有疵乎    
民栝國   毌以知乎   
天門啟闔   能為雌乎   
明白四達   能毌以知乎 

  

生之畜之   

生而弗有   

畜而弗宰也

是胃玄德   


 

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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…

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WEEP FOR OUR WORLD

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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