Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 55

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含德之厚,比於赤子。
蜂蠆虺蛇不螫,猛獸不據,攫鳥不搏。
骨弱筋柔而握固。
未知牝牡之合而全作,精之至也。
終日號而不嗄,和之至也。
知和曰常,知常曰明,益生曰祥。
心使氣曰強。物壯則老,謂之不道,不道早已。

He who contains virtue(Te) in abundance resembles a newborn child.
Wasps and serpents don’t sting him, and beasts don’t claw at him, and birds of prey don’t attack them.
His bones are tender, and his tendons are soft, and yet his grip is firm.
He hasn’t known the union of sexes, and yet he is stiff with essence.
He cries all day yet never gets hoarse.
This is perfect harmony.
To recognize this harmony is to know the eternal.
To recognize the eternal is to know enlightenment.
To be greedy and indulgent will bring upon scourge.
Heart strengthen breath and makes it strong,
When it becomes strong; it leads to aging,
It is not the way of Tao, but whatever is contrary to Tao will end early.
(Translation with the references listed on the bottom of the post.)

Image may contain: 1 person

The photo of Skyler Lin

As people often say, “Heaven has three precious things – the sun, moon, and stars. Earth has three treasures- water, fire, and wind. People have three treasures – essence, qi, and mind.

Lao Tzu explained the three treasures of people in detail through the manifestation of virtue (Te) in people. He used the image of a baby who can reach the fullest state of an essence (life force) with his innocence and softness. Again, the baby can get the perfect harmony with his peacefulness, mindless, and emotionless. As we grow older, we tend to lose both essence and qi because we lose our gentleness and innocence.

Furthermore, we use our mind (heart) to lead us to consume our essence and qi, forcing us to look strong outwardly but in reality, it drains our life speedily. Lao Tzu told us it is a natural law that everything in the world starts being tender then become a strong, followed by aging after aging is the death.

The way to avoid the norm of everyday people is to cultivate virtue(Te) abundantly and be like a baby to be able to keep the full state of the essence and maintain the perfect harmony in us.

References:

Tao Te Ching Translated by Lin Yu Tang,
Tao Te Ching Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.

 

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 54

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善建不拔,善抱者不脫,子孫以祭祀不輟。
修之於身,其德乃真;修之於家,其德乃餘;修之於鄉,其德乃長;
修之於國,其德乃豐;修之於天下,其德乃普。
故以身觀身,以家觀家,以鄉觀鄉,以國觀國,以天下觀天下。
吾何以知天下然哉?以此。
What is firmly established cannot be uprooted.
What is firmly grasped cannot slip away.
It will be honored from generation to generation.

(The world’s physical things, built on the outside, will be unplugged, for since you can hold it in your hand, it will certainly be taken off.)

However, Tao and Te are invisible.
Therefore, if you build Te in the heart
It will not be unplugged.
If you can embrace it,
Hugging Tao to your chest,
It will not be taken away.

(With Tao and Te in you, not only can you enjoy the blessings, but also blessings will be passed down to the future generations, the worshipping the ancestors will last forever.)

Cultivate Virtue(Te) in your self,
And Virtue(Te) will be real.
Cultivate it in the family,
And Virtue(Te) will abound.
Cultivate it in the village,
And Virtue(Te) will grow.
Cultivate it in the nation,
And Virtue(Te) will be abundant.
Cultivate it in the universe,
And Virtue(Te) will be everywhere.

(Cultivate yourself, and his Te will be fulfilled. When it comes to a family, his Te is bound to be generous. To spread to a village, his Te will surely come a long way; When it comes to a country, his Te will be abundant. When it comes to the world, his Te is bound to prevail.)

Therefore look at the body as body;
Look at the family as family;
Look at the village as village;
Look at the nation as nation;
Look at the universe as universe.

(So, as long as I cultivate Te in me, I can look at other people. From my family to observe other families; From my village, observe other villages; From my present world, I look at the past and the future.)
How do I know the universe is like this?
By looking!

(Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)
(How can I know the situation of the world? This is the reason.)

Image may contain: plant, flower, outdoor and nature

The imag eisfrom Lynn Yang

 

Lao Tzu explained that cultivating Te starts from oneself, then moves to family, then the village, then to the world. It coincides with Chinese saying:
“Cultivate oneself, keep one’s family in order, then run the country well and ultimately you will conquer and bring peace to the world.” (修身,齊家,治國,平天下)

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 53

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使我介然有知,行於大道,唯施是畏。
大道甚夷,而民好徑。
朝甚除,田甚蕪,倉甚虛;服文綵,帶利劍,厭飲食,財貨有餘;是謂盜夸。
非道也哉!
If I have even just a little sense,
I will walk on the main road and my only fear
will be of straying from it.
Keeping to the main road is easy,
But people love to be sidetracked.
When the court is arrayed in splendor,
The fields are full of weeds,
And the granaries are bare.
Some wear gorgeous clothes,
Carry sharp swords,
And indulge themselves with food and drink;
They have more possessions than they can use.
They are robber barons.
This is certainly not the way of Tao.
(Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English )

Lao Tzu warned the rulers of the nation not to become the leader of the robbers. No matter how thoroughly Lao Tzu understood the Tao and how well he applied Tao in his life, he still worried and feared how he could introduce Tao to the rulers well.

It is because Tao is broad and flat but people prefer footpaths.
The rulers have a palace, wearing luxury garments and enjoying life themselves, whereas the field is uncultivated, the granaries are empty. They possess more than they need. Lao Tzu gave them harsh words and called them the head of the robbers. He told them that this is contrary to the Tao, not Tao! We can feel from this text how heavy a burden he felt from the rulers and how much caring he felt for the people.

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 52

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天下有始,以為天下母。
既得其母,以知其子,既知其子,復守其母,沒身不殆。
塞其兌,閉其門,終身不勤。
開其兌,濟其事,終身不救。
見小曰明,守柔曰強。
用其光,復歸其明,無遺身殃;是為習常。
The beginning of the universe
Is the mother of all things.
Knowing the mother, one also knows the sons.
Knowing the sons, yet remaining in touch with the mother,
Brings freedom from the fear of death.
Keep your mouth shut,
Guard the senses,
And life is ever full.
Open your mouth,
Always be busy,
And live a life beyond hope.
Seeing the inferior is insight;
Yielding to force is a strength.
Using the outer light, return to insight,
And in this way be saved from harm.
This is learning constantly.
(Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)

Tao is the beginning of the universe, the mother of all things. Since the mother who knows all things is the Tao, it naturally follows that all things in the world are children of the Tao. Since we know that all things in the world are children of the Tao, we must look back and guard our mothers and abide by this principle of keeping the roots forever. Then there will be no great danger.

Plug your senses, close the door to craving, and there will be no scourge of it in its lifetime. If the opposite path is chosen, it opens the aperture to put your life in danger. Those who can see the small are people who understand the Tao. Those who can keep and hold the weak will gain strength and are the real winners. When practicing to use light to gain enlightenment, you will be led to eternity.

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 51

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道生之,德畜之,物形之,勢成之。
是以萬物莫不尊道而貴德。
道之尊,德之貴,夫莫之命常自然。
故道生之,德畜之;長之育之;亭之毒之;養之覆之。
生而不有,為而不恃,長而不宰,是謂玄德。
All things arise from Tao.
They are nourished by Virtue (Te).
They are formed from matter.
They are shaped by environment.
Thus all things respect Tao and honor Virtue (Te).
Respect of Tao and honor of Virtue (Te) are not demanded,
But it is natural to do so.
Therefore all things arise from Tao.
By Te they are nourished,
Developed, cared for,
Sheltered, comforted,
Grown, and protected.
Creating without claiming,
Doing without taking credit,
Guiding without interfering,
This is Primal Virtue.
(Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)

The Tao Te Ching consists of Tao and Te. They are equally important. Tao generates all things while Te nourishes them, even though all things have various shapes and the environment help them grow. Both Tao and Te are respected and honored by them. Why? Though Tao generates all things it never interferes, and Te nourishes all things, it never dominates, letting them grow naturally. Tao begets them and does not take their possessions, while Te sustains them but does not bear the credits. Guiding them without dominating them, this is called the profound Te.

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