Chapter of the Week: #36 [Archive]

:idea: misunderstandings and understanding are two sides of the yin-yang coin, so with one we'll get the other... yes? ...


  • edited April 2006
    Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. Chapter 36 was originally featured on the 3rd week in September.

    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 36
    If you would have a thing shrink,
    You must first stretch it;
    If you would have a thing weakened,
    You must first strengthen it;
    If you would have a thing laid aside,
    You must first set it up;
    If you would take from a thing,
    You must first five to it.

    This is called subtle discernment:
    The submissive and weak will overcome the hard and strong.

    The fish must not be allowed to leave the deep;
    The instrument of power in a state must not be revealed to anyone.
  • edited December 1969
    [cite] Luke Abbott:[/cite]If you would have a thing laid aside,
    You must first set it up;
    Hmm . . . This chapter appears to have a loophole or catch. Here's an example. It's understandable to believe that if you want to set up a saltshaker, it first needs to have fallen over. but for it to have fallen over, it firsts needs to have been set up. but to have been set up, it must fall over (or laid aside or whatever you want to call it). And the prossess continues. Well, what's it's original state?

    Let's take the big bang (or the horrible space kaplooee! if you want to call it that). For the big bang (active) to occur, there would have to nothing (passive) which there was. (That could hint that the original state of the salt shaker was in it's passive state. In other words, it fell over) but, for there to be nothing, there need to be something and vise versa.

    Does anybody have a theory or hypothisis (or hypothithith as I call it) for this confusing quandry :roll:?
  • edited December 1969
    I love this one :!: It helps me let life be. Of course I have to keep the process portrayed here on the tip of my mind, otherwise instinct overtakes me. For example, If you would have a thing weakened, You must first strengthen it helps me diffuse judgements I make about my own, or other people's, 'selfishness', i.e., you must be selfish before you can be selfless. Selflessness come naturally just as climbing down a mountain must follow climbing up a mountain. The submissive and weak are the inevitable end of the short lived hard and strong. And so the submissive and weak are the gateway to my own sense of eternity.

    The common understanding of must not, in the fish must not..., easily conveys the notion of our culture's illusion of free will / choice. Thus, for me, the fish can not... expresses really better. This give and take process can only be known from the depths of our being. Unless I realize, re-realize and verify it through continuous personal experience, it's remains only an abstract idea... [chref=43]words.[/chref]. It has to be visceral - moment to moment - to be revealed. The notion that one can reveal such knowing to others in any objective way is nonsensical.
  • JoeJoe
    edited December 1969
    I think about how the chapter talks about how if you want things one way, you must first do the opposite way. I find it important to remember that I cannot control this kind of process; it has to happen in it?s own time. In any ?undesirable? part of my life, who knows how long I might keep pursuing that particular desire, before I truly let go and no longer desire that activity.

    I find myself observing the myriad desires going on, and often feel powerless to let go of that desire while it?s actually happening. And I mean truly letting go, not simply saying no to the satisfaction of the desire. For example, if I desire a chocolate bar, but tell myself no, that?s not really letting go of the desire. That?s simply not taking action to satisfy it, but the desire is still there.

    I also find myself emotionally wishing I could control the setting up and laying aside of desires for those I love. Especially with my 9 year old daughter. I see the desires she pursues, and wish that I could help her through the frustrations of whatever the situation is. But it?s always easier to identify a process in someone else, and have ?advice?, than to squarely look at the dynamics happening in my own life.

    Carl?s comments about having to experience things ourselves, rather than as ideas someone tells us about, really rings true for me. These days I see that what I ?know?, what little wisdom I have, has come from the many experiences in my life. Experiences that have sunk in at the ?cellular? level, not at the intellectual level. I can?t pick out some experiences as worthwhile, and some not; they all come together to make me who I am. Which is perhaps why I?ve always shied away from religions or spiritual pursuits that have a well-defined route you should follow to find peace, contentment, whatever. I don?t think we can just pick up a spiritual syllabus, follow specific steps ABC, and there we are in ?enlightenment?, or whatever the goal is.
  • edited December 1969
    TaoNut says,
    Does anybody have a theory or hypothisis (or hypothithith as I call it) for this confusing quandry ?

    You?ve taken a wonder-full ?turning back? step and have peeked over the edge. I can?t resist the opportunity to pontificate:

    A mystery only becomes a ?quandary? if you need to resolve it. The marvelous thing about mystery is how it opens the mind to the ?unknowable?. When you accept and embrace the ?unknowable? as just that, you ?know it?. When you love the ?unknowable? as deeply as the ?knowable?, there?s no quandary.

    In other word, to know, in the Taoist sense, does not refer to what you can think or speak about, i.e., ?understand? in the usual sense of the word ?know?. Indeed, the deepest knowing experience is that broad pre-thought experience which we (and all creation) share in, but which remains anonymous. Instead, it?s the tangible side of existence that commands our attention. Moreover, we ceaselessly rationalizes the intangible until we?ve cobbled together a tangible dogmatic face for it to which we can relate. The word / concept of God is a good example.

    The treasure of the Tao Te Ching is that it leaves so much of the mystery in tack, and instead attempts to draw us deeper into our secret and mysterious space within. [chref=4]Darkly visible, it only seems as if it were there. I know not whose son it is. It images the forefather of God. [/chref]

    Of course many of us fear that space and so adopt one of the myriad tangible faces with which human culture has veiled [chref=56]mysterious sameness[/chref] over millennia. Politics, art, literature, music, food and so on exemplify this. The more insecure we are with the intangible, the more fiercely we conform to and support various facets of culture... [chref=12]The five notes make his ears deaf[/chref], and so on.
  • edited December 1969
    "you must be selfish before you can be selfless'. Absolutely, selfishness is a pure state. Babies are selfish. As they grow, they're taught to share, 'for the good of all'...yet what is charity but selfishness turned outwards-we want others to have what we have, to be like us, to raise up to our level-how egotistic is that?
    In my field, juvenile corrections, we base our program of reformation on teaching youths how to think about others, when in my mind thats ultimately impossible. they should be taught how to think better about themselves...(we also teach them to be victims when they DO think about themselves, but thats for another discussion)
    We create in order to share what we have, what we knwo, to gain attention for these things...the only true art is that which you create and keep for yorself, not for public consumption. How many hill folks sat happily in their cabin for decades strumming their guitar, until a field anthropologist came along with their recorder and made them share their music with the world? Emily Dickinson kept her poems in a dresser drawer, never attempting to publish her work...
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