Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 25

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有物混成,先天地生。
寂兮寥兮,獨立不改,周行而不殆,可以為天下母。
吾不知其名,字之曰道,強為之名曰大。
大曰逝,逝曰遠,遠曰反。
故道大,天大,地大,王亦大。
域中有四大,而王居其一焉。
人法地,地法天,天法道,道法自然。

Before the Heaven and Earth existed
There was something nebulous:
Silent, isolated,
Standing alone, changing not,
Eternally revolving without fail,
Worthy to be the Mother of All Things.
I do not know its name
And address it as Tao.
If forced to give it a name, I shall call it “Great.”
Being great implies reaching out in space,
Reaching out into space suggests it is far-reaching,
Far-reaching implies a reversion to the original point.

Therefore:
The Tao is Great,
The Heaven is great,
The Earth is great,
The King is also great.
There are a Great Four in the universe,
And the King is one of them.

Man models himself after the Earth;
The Earth models itself after Heaven;
The Heavens models itself after Tao;
Tao models itself after nature.
(Translated by Yu Tang Lin)

This chapter came to me in May of this year, almost six months before I started to read and write about the Tao Te Ching and post it on my blog. Here is the story.

I’ve been going to an audition site in Glendale, California for a long time, and there has always been a long picture hanging on the wall. I would stand there and stare at it, trying to figure out what the meaning of the picture was. I don’t know which artist painted it, but it is an interesting piece. You can clearly see a human face, and a hand is touching its lip. Recently, I happened to have an audition there, and I went there twice in one week. The second time was a callback. It was a large project; so many different people were waiting to go in for an audition. I had more than an hour to wait. I went back and looked at the picture again, and I got it. Just like what Lao Tzu said,

“Man follows the earth.
Earth follows the universe.
The universe follows the Tao.
The Tao follows nature.”

Now I know why this painter used clay to make a human face and hands. The face seems like a basket or pot. On top of the head, it looked as if roots were growing. Indeed, we are derived from the earth and are brought up by the earth. Of course, harvests are produced by the earth. We need the sun to give us light. The earth needs the sun to keep producing crops. It is all interrelated. With that, we can develop the Tao by following nature and the universe.

Eventually, man will go back to dust. We are buried, and decompose, and become part of the soil.

Before those four lines, Tao Te Ching also mentions the greatness of four things as they are referred.

“The Tao is Great,
The Heaven is great,
The Earth is great,
The King is also great.
These are the four great powers.”

Now I understand why humans can be great and powerful because we follow Tao, the universe, and the earth. Without them, we are nothing. Then there will be no greatness in us.

We are made in the image of God, but we cannot see him among humans. Just like that picture, from the eyes we can see wisdom, and that it is definitely in the shape of the human. And yet, the head was made of earth – made of clay. We are not superior to heaven, earth, or Tao. We are all part of each other. That is why, with this understanding, man, earth, the universe, and Tao can all be great together.

The best religion – A dialog between Dalai Lama and Leonardo Boff

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This is a transcription of the following article from the blog Just for Sharing Ideas. I found enlightenment in the message in this article.

The Brazilian theologist Leonardo Boff wrote:

In a round table discussion about religion and freedom in which Dalai Lama and myself were participating at recess, I maliciously and also with interest, asked him: “Your holiness, what is the best religion?”

I thought he would say: “The Tibetan Buddhism” or “The oriental religions, much older than Christianity.” The Dalai Lama paused, smiled and looked me in the eyes…which surprised me because I knew of the malice contained in my question.


He answered: “The best religion is the one that gets you closest to God. It is the one that makes you a better person.”

To relieve my embarrassment with such a wise answer, I asked: “What is it that makes me better?”

He responded:
“Whatever makes you
more compassionate,
more sensible,
more detached,
more loving,
more humanitarian,
more responsible,
more ethical.
The religion that will do that for you is the best religion.”

I was silent for a moment, marveling and even today thinking of his wise and irrefutable response:

“I am not interested, my friend, about your religion or if you are religious or not.
What really is important to me is your behavior in front of your peers, family, work, community, and in front of the world.
Remember, the universe is the echo of our actions and our thoughts.
The law of action and reaction is not exclusively for physics. It is also of human relations. If I act with goodness, I will receive goodness. If I act with evil, I will get evil.
What our grandparents told us is the pure truth. You will always have what you desire for others. Being happy is not a matter of destiny. It is a matter of options.”

Finally he said:
“Take care of your Thoughts because they become Words.
Take care of your Words because they will become Actions.
Take care of your Actions because they will become Habits.
Take care of your Habits because they will form your Character.
Take care of your Character because it will form your Destiny,
and your Destiny will be your Life
…and…
There is no religion higher than the Truth.”

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 24

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企者不立;
跨者不行;
自見者不明;
自是者不彰;
自伐者無功;
自矜者不長。
其在道也,曰:餘食贅行。
物或惡之,故有道者不處。
He who stands on tiptoe does not stand (firm);
He who strains his strides does not walk (well);
He who reveals himself is not luminous;
He who justifies himself is not far-famed;
He who boasts of himself is not given credit;
He who prides himself is not chief among men.
These in the eyes of Tao
Are called “the dregs and tumors of Virtue,”
Which are things of disgust.
Therefore the man of Tao spurns them.
(Translated by Yu Tang Lin)

Related image
Image is from aboluowang.com

If you stand on your toes and want to stand tall, you can’t stand.
If you want to move fast by stretching your stride, you can’t walk far.
He who shows off will not shine.
He who is self -righteous will not be respected
He who is self-boasting will not gain merit.
He who is self-conceited cannot be a leader.

By the perception of the Tao, those four actions are superfluous.
They are things of disgust, and the people of the Tao are less likely to do so.

Lao Tzu has mentioned these “four noes principle ” in Chapter 22, and from his repetition of it, we can tell how much Lao Tzu dislikes such people. Indeed, we can find people with these characteristics everywhere, so all the more we should recognize them. Otherwise, we will be walking further away from the Tao.

Bring Happiness to Others

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A disciple asked Bodhidharma:
How can I become a happy person and bring happiness to others?

Bodhidharma said:
There are four states that you need to be in to do this.
Start by thinking of yourself as someone else, and this will make you “selfless.”
Next, think of others instead of yourself, this will make you “compassionate.”
Then, treat others as separate people, this will make you “wise.”
Finally, think of yourself as yourself, and this will make you “at ease.”

Image result for 達摩祖師相片
Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th or 6th century. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Chan Buddhism to China, and regarded as its first Chinese patriarch.
According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the monks of Shaolin Monastery that led to the creation of Shaolin kungfu. In Japan, he is known as Daruma.

Bodhidharma’s teachings and practice centered on meditation and the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra. The Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall (952) identifies Bodhidharma as the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism in an uninterrupted line that extends all the way back to the Gautama Buddha himself.[16] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhidharma)

The following is Bodhidharma’s teaching in Chinese:

弟子問達摩祖師:
如何才能變成一個自己愉快,也帶給別人快樂的人?
達摩祖師笑答:
四種境界,你可領會其中的妙趣
首先把自己當成別人,此是”無我”:再之,要把別人當成自己,這是”慈悲”;而後,要把別人當成別人,此是”智慧”;最後,要把自己當成自己,這是”自在”。”selfless.”
Next, think of others instead of yourself, this will make you “compassionate.”
Then, treat others as separate people, this will make you “wise.”
Finally, think of yourself as yourself, and this will make you “at ease.”

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 23

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希言自然,故飄風不終朝,驟雨不終日。
孰為此者?天地。
天地尚不能久,而況於人乎?
故從事於道者,道者,同於道;德者,同於德;失者,同於失。
同於道者,道亦樂得之;同於德者,德亦樂得之;同於失者,失亦樂得之。
信不足,焉有不信焉。
Nature says few words:
Hence a windstorm lasts not a whole morning.
A rainstorm continues not a whole day.
Where do they come from?
From Nature.
Even Nature does not last long (in its utterances),
How much less should human beings?

Therefore it is that:
He who follows the Tao is identified with the Tao.
He who follows Character (Te) is identified with Character.
He who abandons (Tao) is identified with abandonment (of Tao).
He who identifies with the Tao –
The Tao is also glad to welcome him.
He who identifies with character –
Character (Te) is also glad to welcome him.
He who identifies with abandonment –
Abandonment is also glad to welcome him.
He who does not have enough faith –
Will not be able to command faith from others.
(Translated by Yu Tang Lin)

Tao Te Ching consists of two sections: Chapter one to thirty-seven is all about Tao, whereas the second section about Te is from chapter thirty to eighty-one. Tao is the “body, ” and Te is the “application.”

Lao Tzu admired nature, and he believed Tao is nature. Nature is of few words, and laws and regulations are against nature. Hence they will not last long. It is inevitable that things that are not natural will not persist. Only things which are natural can be sustained.

Here he gives the examples of a windstorm and a rainstorm, which only last for a short time. But the gentle breeze and bright sun will last long. If heaven and earth go against nature, they will not persist, and the same applies to humans. If people violate nature, they will not last long, so people should follow and abide by nature.

Lao Tzu mentioned there are three types of people:
1. Those who follow the Tao and identify with Tao.
2. Those who follow the Te and identify with Te.
3. Those who neither follow Tao nor follow Te and identify with loss.

The last two lines: “He who has not enough faith will not be able to command faith from others,” has been used to describe rulers in chapter 17. They do not integrate well with this section, so we can just remove these sentences.

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