Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 16


Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind become still.
Ten thousand things come into being,
And I have watched them return.
No matter how luxuriantly they flourish,
Each must go back to the root from which it came.
Returning to the root is called acceptance,
It is the fulfillment of one’s destiny.
That each must fulfill his destiny is the eternal pattern,
To know the eternal pattern is to be illuminated.
He who knows will not be withered by misfortune.
He who knows the eternal pattern is all-encompassing,
He who is all-encompassing is entirely impartial,
Being impartial, he is kingly,
Being kingly, he is like heaven,
Being like heaven, he is at one with Tao,
Being at one with Tao, he is, like it, imperishable,
Though his body may disappear into the ocean of existence,
He is beyond all harm.

Image result for 尹喜與老子相片
Image of a white-haired old man riding a blue ox is from 搜狐

Reading this chapter, I started to make a comparison between Confucius and Lao Tzu:

Confucius spent all his life teaching people how to live decently on earth — with moderation and by conforming to the law of morals that guide a man’s conduct: of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and faith.

On the other hand, the Tao, the Way of Lao Tzu, is the teaching of the Divine. Lao Tzu came to pass on the message that the purpose of man’s journey on earth is to go back to the origin, to retrieve one’s true self.

When speaking about the Divine, I can’t help but recount the story of how the Tao Te Ching came into existence. Here is the story I heard.

Two thousand years ago, after seeing the world in chaos, Yinxi resigned as the top officer in the army and requested to be assigned to a small officer position in northwest Huanu Guan. While hiding there, he was able to become a monk.

One night, Yinxi gazed at the sky on the top of the building, and he saw that a purple cloud in the east had gathered up to many miles, and the shape was like a flying dragon rolling from east to west. He knew that it was a propitious sign and that a great sage was passing through the area. So he took a bath and put on clean clothes, and waited patiently for him.

Sure enough, the purple cloud was getting closer and closer. When Yinxi looked more closely, he saw a white-haired old man riding a blue ox coming from the east. This old man was Lao Tzu. Yinxi begged Lao Tzu to stay and tried to learn from him. When it was time for Lao Tzu to leave, Yinxi implored him to write down a book for later generations. Lao Tzu consented and left behind the famous Tao Te Ching, written in 5,000 characters, at Han Valley Pass. After finishing it, he got back on his ox and continued to ride to the west, never to be heard from again.

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