Chapter of the Week: #52 [Archive]

Why do all reality show contestants blame the editing? You can't edit in something that wasn't there. And Barbara, since you already know that, I'm sure by "editing" you mean taken out of context. Please provide examples, as Luke has from his family.


  • edited January 2005
    Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. Chapter 52 was originally featured on the 2nd week in January.

    Note: The Tao Te Ching can be obscure, especially if you think you're supposed to understand what it's saying! We find it easier and more instructive to simply contemplate how the chapter resonates with your personal experience. Becoming more aware at this fundamental level simplifies life. This approach conforms to the view that true knowing lies within ourselves. Thus, when a passage in the scripture resonates, you've found your inner truth. The same applies for when it evokes a question; questions are the grist for self realization.

    Chapter 52
    The world had a beginning
    And this beginning could be the mother of the world.
    When you know the mother
    Go to know the child.
    After you have known the child
    Go back to holding fast to the mother,
    And to the end of your days you will not meet with danger.

    Block the openings,
    Shut the doors,
    And all your life you will not run dry.
    Unblock the openings,
    Add to your troubles,
    And to the end of your days you will be beyond salvation.

    To see the small is called discernment;
    To hold fast to the submissive is called strength.
    Use the light
    But give up the discernment.
    Bring not misfortune upon yourself.

    This is known as following the constant.
  • edited December 1969
    My life is like taking a walk. A walk has its beginning in what came before. Before is the [chref=4]forefather[/chref], born of the mother of world. Whether it is my whole life, or simply a stroll through the woods, the process is the same. I pass through, notice, and come to know the leaves, branches, bugs, rocks, cloud... the myriad 'children'... The only danger lies in losing my way. I remain 'found' when I can give up the discernment of the small. It only seems real. All that remains then is the light of consciousness, and I find that I'm back holding fast to the [chref=20]mother[/chref].

    Of course, my mind is always seeing the small, discerning things day and night. How do I give up the [chref=16]discernment[/chref]? I've found the answer for me lies in holding fast to the submissive (as I'm able). Is giving up the discernment a call to cease thinking (and speaking)? That interpretation is too small. My problem comes not from discernment per se, but from how small and narrow my discernment becomes when I believe that what I see is truth. That's when I lose the mother and bring misfortune upon myself.

    So, my model is to know discernment, [chref=28]but keep to the role of[/chref] giving up the discernment. Though this sounds [chref=78]paradoxical[/chref], it is really just following the constant rather than my emotional leanings at any given moment. Following the constant feels like keeping my balance when walking on a rail. It's never 'done', it is a constant teetering, tottering, and [chref=40]turning back.[/chref] Keeping balance requires constant vigilance. A parallel to this is Christ's "But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up." And again, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
  • JoeJoe
    edited December 1969
    ?Go on to know the child?, for me relates to Chapt. 1, about letting yourself have desires to observe it?s (the way?s) manifestations. I think of the child as when each of us follows our desires, usually without much thought, and we regularly run into danger, and experience problems (Buddhist idea of suffering).

    When I can block the openings, and shut the doors, then I?m leaving behind desires, by turning back inside toward the way. I?ve started experiencing this with Buddhist mindfulness meditation, where I?m focusing on the moment, fully present with whatever the situation is. (It could be focusing on breathing in and out, it could be washing dishes.) Then my ?monkey mind? is not off and running, following every thought (desire) that comes along, but is instead ?contained? in the ?room? of reality.

    Seeing the small is called discernment, relates to another chapter about hammering something to a point, which to me is focusing on details and missing the big picture. It?s too easy to get caught up in a particular desire, and keep pursuing that, to the exclusion of everything else. I particularly notice this when I?m focusing on something I?m interested in (like the weekend football games), and I get short-tempered with my family if they interrupt me. If I can give up the discernment, I?m more able to pull back and remember that my family is one of the biggest priorities in my life, and are much more important in the big picture of my life.

    I?m able to hold fast to the submissive (the mother), when I?m embracing and accepting reality, and letting go of illusions (desires) which seem strong, but actually always crumble and fade. (Everything?s ultimately transitory). With this approach, I?m more able to use the light to see reality clearly. Giving up the discernment again is about my giving up attachment to the details of life, which on the surface seem to be solid activities, they seem real but are transitory. This is definitely following the constant.

    One last thought. Block the openings brings to mind shopping at a supermarket. I often feel overwhelmed by all the choices/varieties. Which is ironic, because I usually want to have plenty of options when I shop. I feel more bombarded by things than, say, when I?m in the forest. And yet, the forest has many different colors, sights, variations in plant life. Why is the forest relaxing and the supermarket overwhelming? (Something I?m pondering these days.)
  • edited December 1969
    Go back to holding fast to the mother,
    And to the end of your days you will not meet with danger.

    This brings to mind "Nothing real can be threatened; nothing unreal exists" from the Course in Miracles (first line) and "the tao seeks out and moves through the empty spaces of life." Emptiness cannot be put in danger.
  • edited December 1969
    Hi Joe, We really miss seeing you at service now that you've moved. But now we can hear what you would say if you were here- and you are virtually- Neat! You put things in a very thoughtful, understandable and practical way. It's very helpful for me.

    I find myself dwelling on things that are really transitory but seem so real. I think they will bring me happiness but basically don?t serve me. When I become aware of the futility, instead of fighting it I?m now saying, "there you go again" and it seems to float away (depending on the depth of my desire). I often then become enveloped in the silence of this eternal moment. I feel graced for as long as it lasts. That?s when I?m patient and follow. I don?t try to control. As I get older I?m more aware of the transitory nature of life. I do still hold on and try to control. I don?t know what comes first. Do I go with the flow more when I?m happy with that flow or when I?m happy do I go more with the flow almost whatever it is? It?s harder for me to be relaxed when reality doesn?t measure up to my expectations. There is where my troubles lie. I?m graced when I?m graced (happy) and dis-graced when I?m dis-graced (unhappy). It sure feels better when I?m not fighting what is naturally so...but I?m only human. I do love the verse that serves like an angel at my side "The spirit of the valley never dies, This is called the mysterious female......Dimly visible, it seems as if it were there, Yet use will never drain it." It?s never too late.
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