Archive for January, 2018
To yield is to be preserved whole.
To be bent is to become straight.
To be hollow is to be filled.
To be tattered is to be renewed.
To be in want is to possess.
To have plenty is to be confused.
Therefore the Sage embraces the One,
And becomes the model of the world.
He does not reveal himself,
And is therefore luminous.
He does not justify himself,
And is therefore renowned.
He does not boast of himself,
And therefore people give him credit.
He does not pride himself,
And is therefore chief among men.
Is it not indeed true, as the ancients say,
“To yield is to be preserved whole?”
Thus he is preserved and the world does him homage.
(Translated by Yu Tang Lin)
This image is from www.shutterstock.com
In this chapter, Lao Tzu further deepens the discussion of ideas explained in chapter two from the perspective of life experiences. The second chapter focuses on its contradictory transformation.
At the beginning of this chapter, Lao Tzu uses six ancient related idioms to describe the ideas contained in the change from negative to positive: conciliation and preservation, bowing and straightening, dissatisfaction and surplus, old and new, loss and possession, having and confusion. Lao Tzu believes that things often arise in antagonistic relations. People should observe both ends of things and see the negative situation from the front. For the negative view, one can still see positive connotations. In fact, positive and negative are not entirely different things but are inter-dependent. Therefore at the end, he concluded that “there is no dispute.”
Before he concludes, he introduces the “four noes principle;” no self-displaying, no self-righteousness, no self-boasting, and no self-conceit. To practice these in our lives help us be in the Tao. They are so crucial that Lao Tzu repeats this principle in chapter 24.
A man went to visit the Zen Master and asked him what the value of life is. The master gave him a stone, and told him to take the stone to the vegetable market for evaluation, but do not sell it. The person did so, and most people just ignored the rock. Finally, one person offered to pay five dollars for it. He said he would use it to press vegetables to make pickles. The man took the stone back to the master told him that someone wanted to buy it for five dollars.
mage is from https://kknews.cc/zh-hk/agriculture/jm4j39q.html
The Master said to take it to the quarry for evaluation, but do not sell it. He took the stone to the quarry, and people gathered to check its quality and the shape. Finally, someone was willing to pay 50 dollars for it to use it for bonsai. The man found it kind of interesting and went back to tell the master that someone wanted to buy it for 50 dollars.
The Master smiled and said: “Tomorrow you take it to the diamond market for valuation, and find out how much it is worth.” The man brought the stone to the diamond market. Many people wanted to look at the stone, and one person offered him fifty thousand dollars. The man happily ran back to tell the master; others said that this stone is a diamond and worth 50,000 dollars!
Image is from Amazon.com
The value of life depends on what perspective with which you look at yourself. If we look at ourselves as a stone to press pickled vegetables, then we are worth only a few dollars. If we consider we are a rock for the bonsai then we worth tens of dollars. If we think we are the priceless diamond, then we are the priceless diamond. So how you see yourself is the key.
How you look at yourself is how God will fulfill your life for you.
The marks of great Character
Follow alone from the Tao.
The thing that is called Tao
Is elusive, evasive.
Latent in it are forms.
Latent in it are objects.
Dark and dim,
Latent in it is the life-force.
The life-force being very real,
Latency in it is evidence.
From the days of old till now
Its Named (manifested forms) have never ceased,
By which we may view the Father of All Things.
How do I know the shape of the Father of All Things?
Through these (manifested forms)!
(By Yu Tang Lin)
Image is from The Way of Beauty.
This chapter begins with an account of the relationship between “Tao” (道)and “virtue.” (德)Taoism is intangible. It must be manifested through concrete objects. This manifestation is “virtue.” Therefore, Lao Zi said that the change of form of great virtue is according to Tao.
Next, Lao-tzu says: Tao is very hard to describe it because it is intangible. Just as he describes in chapter 14, Tao is the form of the formless, and the image of the imageless.
However, Lao Tzu then clearly and affirmatively describes the Tao’s existence, with “form,” “object,” “life-force” and “truth.” It is through the manifested form of virtue that we can understand the Tao.
So Tao as has existed all the time from ancient times to today, and its name (manifested form) has not disappeared or even changed, and also through the manifested form, we can view the Father of All Things.
I have been to the Hawaiian island of Maui many times. It is a lovely and serene place to visit. The residents have told us many times that it is such an inspiring place to write in. Every time I go, I always prepare a notebook, a pen, and a book to read so that I can write some articles while there.
This year, my mind’s goal was the same. I was praying to write a new section for my book. When I arrived, the first place I went was the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort. Usually, when we come to Maui, we stay in the villas here. The place I love the most about the hotel is the meditation garden. The area has chairs surrounded by tropical plants with flowing water from a small fountain. Every time I go to sit there, I would have ideas for articles to write. This time, as usual, I brought a book. This time I had a book by Osho, Volume 3 of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. As I was sitting in the garden, I figured I should start reading the book I had brought. Osho writes about the theory of Tao Te Ching and the idea of doing nothing. He explains, if you keep seeking something, you will miss it. If you don’t seek it, it will find you. If you look too hard, you will miss it. The tree sits quietly and does not move, and it still grows by itself. So if you just sit quietly, you won’t need to see or do anything for enlightenment to come to you.
When I read that, I realized that this was what I was supposed to be doing during this stay in Maui. I knew that during this trip, I was meant to let go entirely. No actions, no thoughts, just go with the flow. But after a few days, I started to wonder. It didn’t seem like I had accomplished anything. As I was thinking about this as we drove back to the hotel one day, all of a sudden I saw a rainbow. Because the car was going so fast, I was unable to take a picture. After we returned to the hotel, I remembered that I had forgotten something in the car. I went back to retrieve it, and as I was about to leave, I looked up and saw a small section of the rainbow left. I started to take a picture, but then I realized that the rainbow had begun to extend until it became a full rainbow. Another rainbow formed above it, and it looked as if someone was drawing the rainbows as I tried to take the picture. I had never seen something like this before.
When I left California to go to Maui, I was still full of burdens because I was still trying to sell my house, which had been going on for many months. It seemed as if there were fewer buyers, and even though we had finally secured a buyer, I didn’t know what the outcome might be, so my heart was heavily burdened when we left. When I saw the rainbow, I was delighted. I felt as if it was an assurance from above because only God can draw a rainbow.
The next day, I grew disillusioned as usual and asked, “Can you show me another one?” We planned to go to the Blowhole in Maui, which was a rock formation under a cliff in the sea that would spew out big fountains of water every few minutes. We were excited to see it and rushed down. While my daughter was busy taking pictures, I tried to move closer to the rocks, and all of a sudden saw a rainbow there. I was shocked, knowing I had asked for it. I was delighted and so happy. Out of every time I’ve been to Maui, this was my favorite one, because I let go and was able to enjoy the plants, the flowers, the beach, the water, and the freedom I had. The enlightenment I gained from the book I read lead me to the most enjoyable vacation I have ever had.
Give up learning, and put an end to your troubles.
Is there a difference between yes and no?
Is there a difference between good and evil?
Must I fear what others fear? What nonsense!
Other people are contented, enjoying the sacrificial feast of the ox.
In spring some go to the park, and climb the terrace,
But I alone am drifting, not knowing where I am.
Like a newborn babe before it learns to smile,
I am alone, without a place to go.
Others have more than they need, but I alone have nothing.
I am a fool. Oh, yes! I am confused.
Others are clear and bright,
But I alone am dim and weak.
Others are sharp and clever,
But I alone am dull and stupid.
Oh, I drift like the waves of the sea,
Without direction, like the restless wind.
Everyone else is busy,
But I alone am aimless and depressed.
I am different.
I am nourished by the great mother.
(Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English )
When I first studied this chapter, I was somewhat confused. So I put it down and tried to reread it, then I skipped from this section to the next. After I finished Chapter 21, I had no choice but to come back to this one. Well, I told myself that I had better take a different angle to read this content. Sure enough, I understood it better and was able to write down my insight for this chapter.
Lao Tzu wanted us to take individual steps to be the student in Tao.
First, we need to rid of what we put in us. The education, the knowledge is the first to go, then we should know that there is no good or bad; no yes or no; and moreover that we need not fear as others do because everything will take its natural course.
The people seem to be happy pursuing fame, power, glory, and wealth. I am not even as a child but a baby who cannot yet smile and is indifferent to all these, like a homeless wanderer.
From the secular perspective, everyone is abundant, talented, intelligent but I am weak, dull, and foolish. Unlike the people of the world who have aim, goal, and purpose, I have none of them.
My heart is a wave of a sea which can accept all rivers, and I am like a soft wind drifting above the sea aimlessly but freely. I know that I am indeed different from the people. However, I cherish the nourishment from the Mother to cultivate and improve myself and to be in the Dao.