Chapter of the Week: #33 [Archive]

There's no furniture in this place. Are you sure this isn't a Zen lounge? Or is this how Taoist do things? :)


  • edited March 2006
    Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. Chapter 33 was originally featured on the 4th week in August.

    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 33
    He who knows others is clever;
    He who knows himself has discernment.
    He who overcomes others has force;
    He who overcomes himself is strong.

    He who knows contentment is rich;
    He who perseveres is a man of purpose;
    He who does not lose his station will endure;
    He who lives out his days has had a long life.
  • JoeJoe
    edited December 1969
    Hey Kids!

    Getting back into Taoist discussions, especially not face-to-face, will take me a bit to get used to.

    I think the biggest thing that strikes me about this chapter is how all this relates to letting go. How many times do I try to actively be content, to overcome or know myself, and instead do just the opposite? I can think of overcoming myself in terms of not blindly pursuing whatever desires are happening for me. Whether I satisfy a desire or not doesn't seem important, it's whether I can let go enough of the desire to let it reach it's "natural" conclusion. (If I could always identify what that "natural conclusion" is, boy wouldn't that help!)

    I read some discussion from a couple months ago, about how you would live your days if you knew you would die in 30 days. I found the discussion interesting, in that we all know we're going to die sometime. Whether it's 30 days, or 30 years, probably most of us won't think it's enough time. "He who lives out his days has had a long life", seems to point to the quality of whatever time we have left, not the quantity. And we're all faced with small "deaths" all the time; the end (death) of a dinner with family, building that wall for the new construction project, driving to the grocery store, etc., etc.

    For myself, I have a hard time fully living the moments (days) of whatever I'm doing, without thinking about other things in the future. This is probably nowhere more apparent than with my 9 yr. old daughter. I seem to miss a lot of fullness of the moment with her, trying to get on to the next thing in a busy day. At times like those, it helps to look back at that moment, and be honest about what my desires were, and how helpless I was to let go of them in favor of something (someone) more important in the overall big picture. (At times like those, which there are many, I certainly don't feel like a creature with free will.)

    I look forward to reading anyone else's thoughts on how this chapter pertains to their day-to-day struggles in life.

  • edited December 1969
    What is the most important aspect of life, bar none? What does everything hinge upon?

    I can think of nothing more crucial that self-integrity. It is the foundation upon which qualities such as patience, compassion and love rest. But, self-integrity is abstract. What is it really?

    Knowing myself, being content and grounded - not losing my station - all correlate with integrity. Of these, knowing myself is fundamental. Without this knowing, my integrity is always influenced by [chref=51]circumstances[/chref], and thus precarious and tenuous at best.

    What is self-knowing, really? What assists or hinders it?

    I can't imagine any knowing, let alone self-knowing, without honesty. If I'm deceptive, others can't know me, and if I'm self-deceptive, I can never know myself. Thus, self-honesty is the foundation upon which self-knowing rests.

    What is self-honesty, really? What assists or hinders it?

    What hinders it is easy: my survival instincts of fear and need as they play out in my mind (i.e. thought induced insecurity and needs - 'my agenda'). What assists me in becoming more honest? Simply realizing there is no other path to contentment. Only through self-honesty can I truly live out my days. The deeper I realize this, the more I'll face my fears and suspend my needs.

    Thus, my life is a dynamic quest for self-integrity. My brains ability to leave this eternal moment and create an dream world of 'make believe' fosters self-deception. My brains ability to notice that I'm doing this is my only way to overcome myself and 'wake up'.
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