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Posts by Alice Lin
Peace is easily maintained;
Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
The brittle is easily shattered;
The small is easily scattered.
Deal with it before it happens.
Set things in order before there is confusion.
A tree as great as a man’s embrace springs up from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.
He who acts defeats his own purpose;
He who grasps loses.
The sage does not act, and so is not defeated.
He does not grasp and therefore does not lose.
People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;
Then there will be no failure.
Therefore the sage seeks freedom from desire.
He does not collect precious things.
He learns not to hold on to ideas.
He brings men back to what they have lost.
He helps the ten thousand things find their own nature,
But refrains from action.
(Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English )
(A journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.)
When the situation is stable, it is easy to maintain. It is easy to plot when there are no signs of incidents. When things are fragile, they are easily digested. When things are subtle, they are quickly dissipated. Things must be handled properly before they occur. Government affairs must be prepared before the disaster hit.
This chapter is the continuation of the previous chapter, Lao Tzu again reminded us the big things always begins with small things, and there is the process for their occurrence, change and development, through this process we can pay heed to the occurrence of any disaster thereby we can prevent it from happening.
Lao Tzu further expounds the law of the development and changes of things by giving us three examples-A tree with a full span’s girth springs up from a small shoot. A nine-storied terrace begins with a pile of earth, and a journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet. He proved something big is developed from the tiny things. He told us no matter what we do; we should follow the law of nature to start from the small thing, patiently and diligently one after another with the strong will and never slack, so we will not fail before the end.
The old monk asked the young monk, “What would you do if you found yourself where going one step forward or one step backward means that you will die?”
The young monk said without hesitation, “I’ll go to the side.”
The image is from www.xuehua.us.
Heaven will always leave a door open. When you encounter a dilemma in your life, think from a different angle. You will find out that there are many roads that cross.
Attend to no-affairs.
Taste the flavorless.
Whether it is big or small, many or few,
Requite hatred with virtue.
Deal with the difficult while yet it is easy;
Deal with the big while yet it is small.
The difficult (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet easy;
The great (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet small.
Therefore the Sage by never dealing with great (problems)
He who lightly makes a promise
Will find it often hard to keep his faith.
He who makes light of many things
Will encounter many difficulties.
Hence even the Sage regards things as difficult,
And for that reason never meets with difficulties.
(Translation by Yu Tang Lin)
Image of Xinjiang(新疆), China by Kue chu Chen
The first three sentences cover the general idea of the sage governance, the specific implementation of the view and the policy that is beneficial to the people.
“Do-nothing” is present throughout the chapters of Tao Te Ching. Lao Tze mentioned the concept of “inaction”, that is to follow the “tao,” to abide the laws of nature by objective laws. Do not do the thing with our desire and intention. This is the essence of “do nothing.”
Attend to no-affairs implies that the saints or the rulers give out as few decrees as possible. They should not suppress the people with numerous government decrees.
Taste the flavorless literal meaning of “tasteless” is that the flavor is Stoic. In combination with “Do nothing” and “Attend to no-affairs ” are LaoTzu’s request for governing the country, The sage and other rulers should not burden the people with numerous rules and regulation that the people could not breathe. It should be to simplify the order and govern more naturally; so the people will support and cooperate. Hence there will be a natural, balance between rulers and the people; It will be the ideal condition.
Deal with small things with a big attitude, handle simple situations with complex attitudes. Therefore, the sage does not limit himself to doing great things so that he can accomplish great things.
A promise must always be broken, and a man who does things too lightly will never accomplish anything.
The sages always treat things as if they are difficult, and carefully break them down into pieces that are easy to solve, and eventually they become easy to solve.
Indeed, if we face the complexity, we can only start from simple, how can we understand the complexity without simple. The Cambridge Dictionary defines complexity as “the state of having many parts and being difficult to understand or find an answer to.” The definition of simplicity is the inverse: “something [that] is easy to understand or do.” Therefore, take care of small thing and resolve the simple problem then we can handle the complexity.
The image is from 茶悦网.
Once there was a man received a precious purple clay teapot. He placed it at the head of his bed every night so no one could steal it away from him.
However one night he accidentally knocked the lid off the teapot in his sleep. After waking up to the noise, he decided to get rid of the teapot: after all, what’s the point keeping a teapot with a broken lid?
So, he grabbed the teapot and threw it out of the window.
The following morning, he found, on the contrary to what he had expected: the teapot lid stayed intact as it landed on his cotton shoes.
Exasperated and frustrated, the man stepped on the lid, crushing it to pieces.
As he stepped outdoors, he encountered another surprise: the teapot he had thrown out of the window the day before hung perfectly intact in a tree outside his window.
The image is from Brainy Quote.
Have you ever had the moment when you wish you could take back the hurtful things said to a loved one? Unlike the teapot that stayed intact, a lot of hurts cannot be undone: it is perfectly human to feel exasperated or disappointed. However it is the actions upon those emotions that make all the difference: had the man decided not to throw out the teapot when exasperated, things would have been a lot different. Therefore, patience is no longer just a virtue, but also a state of mindfulness of the potential consequences of one’s actions.
It did feel like a practical joke however, when our protagonist found that he had thrown out the teapot when the lid was found intact, that there was no going back: he had crushed his own chances: In fact, luck had always been on his side: fate did not ruin his lid, he was the one who did.
Isn’t it ironic that it has never crossed our minds that it is ourselves who created our “bad luck” when hope and light have always proven to be on our side?
Archaeological excavations reveal that as early as the Song dynasty (10th century) potters near Yixing were using local “zisha” (紫砂 or 紫泥 ; literally, “purple sand/clay”) to make utensils that may have functioned as teapots. According to the Ming dynasty author Zhou Gaoqi, during the reign of the Zhengde Emperor, a monk from Jinsha Temple (Golden Sand Temple) in Yixing handcrafted a fine quality teapot from local clay. Such teapots soon became popular with the scholarly class, and the fame of Yixing teapots began to spread.
Tao is the mysterious secret of the universe,
The good man’s treasure,
And the bad man’s refuge.
Beautiful saying can be sold at the market,
Noble conduct can be presented as a gift.
Though there be bad people,
Why reject them?
Therefore on the crowning of an emperor,
On the appointment of the Three Ministers,
Rather than send tributes of jade and teams of four horses,
Send in the tribute of Tao.
Wherein did the ancients prize this Tao?
Did they not say, “to search for the guilty ones and pardon them”?
Therefore is (tao) the treasure of the world.
(Translation by Yu Tang Lin)
Image of Xinjiang(新疆), China by Kue chu Chen
This chapter once again promotes the benefits and functions of tao. Lao Tzu thought that the “tao,” which is silent, is not only the magic weapon of the good but also for the bad person to keep. Therefore, this chapter points out that the world should be equal before the word “tao. ” Tao” protects the good, but it does not abandon the unscrupulous one. Tao answers the prayers of the people and forgives the faults of them. This is the valuable aspect of the Tao.
Lao Tzu gave an example of the significant offering. The most important ceremony in ancient China was the crowning of the Emperor and the installation of the Emperor’s three ministers(太师、太傅、太保). The ceremony included the offerings of large and valuable jade and a team of four horses. The Tao is valuable, and it surpassed those offerings. In another word, no material could compare the Tao; the Tao is priceless.
Why did ancient cherish the Tao? It was because the Tao brought them to the way of nature. For those who live in the society that follows the law of nature, they will gain the protection, and they are all equal. Not only for good also for the bad for Tao will not find fault in them, but they can also perfect and improve themselves, thereby they become better and better. Therefore the Tao is considered the greatest treasure of all.