Chapter of the Week: #23 [Archive


Thanks for dropping by - like I said it's early days yet and I'm looking forward to developing it further.


  • edited January 2006
    Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. Chapter 23 was originally featured on the 2nd week in January, 2006.

    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 23
    To use words but rarely
    Is to be natural.

    Hence a gusty wind cannot last all morning, and a sudden downpour cannot last
    all day. Who is it that produces these? Heaven and earth. If even heaven and
    earth cannot go on for ever, much less can man.
    That is why one follows the way.

    A man of the way conforms to the way; a man of virtue conforms to virtue; a
    man of loss conforms to loss. He who conforms to the way is gladly accepted by
    the way; he who conforms to virtue is gladly accepted by virtue; he who
    conforms to loss is gladly accepted by loss.

    When there is not enough faith, there is lack of good faith.
  • edited December 1969
    [cite] Luke Abbott:[/cite]Chapter 23
    To use words but rarely
    Is to be natural.

    So, who is going to respond after that? :twisted:
  • edited December 1969
    [cite] Topher:[/cite]So, who is going to respond after that? :twisted:
    Who else... :oops:

    [Note: I italicize phrases I borrow from the chapter, and link to phrases I borrow from other chapters to help tie chapters together. While making it more tedious to read, :? the Tao Te Ching is best pondered in the context of the whole.]

    To use words but rarely, Is to be natural applies even more to thought - that conversation I have with myself. Natural to me refers simply to the Nature that I observe 'out there'. And sure enough, I've yet to see a tree, rock, or bird use words. On the other hand, the brain that makes my words possible is natural (in origin and process). So?

    The 'problem' with words lies in their tendency to blind me to what is natural. First, words are simply 'preconceptions', instilled in me from infancy, which symbolize sensation; they are not the sensations themselves. Right off the bat, this separates me from how things naturally are. More importantly, the 'few' thousand [chref=70]words[/chref] which make up my conscious thought only scratch the eternal surface of nature's reality. Indeed, words and [chref=56]mysterious sameness[/chref] are like oil and water. Yet, I used to trust them whole heartedly, which further separated me from the 'whole'. I ended up feeling disconnected and yearning to [chref=16]return[/chref] to the natural. Religion is simply symptomatic of this sense of disconnection. And so, might we not also say, To use religion but rarely, Is to be natural.

    What ever I conform to becomes my life. So, we must be careful what we wish for, eh? This is why having [chref=9]wealth[/chref] - gold, rich foods, or whatever - often traps us in unintended consequences. We become gladly accepted by it, and end up feeling even more disconnected from what is natural, i.e, wealth is an artifact of civilization unknown in the wild.

    I understand 'When there is not enough faith, there is lack of good faith' better when I think of faith and trust as one. In fact, other translations use trust. Faith, like trust is either enough or absent. The word 'try' is sometimes avoided in Eastern 'spiritual' disciplines. The idea being, I suppose, 'trying' is simply approaching life with not enough faith.
  • edited December 1969
    Hence a gusty wind cannot last all morning, and a sudden downpour cannot last
    all day.

    ...reminds me of the impermanence of everything. Some other chapter says that The Way is the thread throughout everything, and this thread is the only constant and so:
    That is why one follows the way.
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