Chapter of the Week: #26 [Archive]

What Does a Taoist Eye See?
A Taoist eye [chref=71]knows[/chref] 'things as they are'. How do you know when you know 'things as they are'? First, knowing - in the Taoist sense - is a feeling, not thoughts we think. Without such knowing, even the best intentioned and reasoned thought soon fizzles out ? New Years resolutions come to mind. And so, [chref=70]words are very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice, yet no one in the world can understand them or put them into practice.[/chref]

Thinking is ephemeral and without substance. This is why [chref=67]the whole world says that my way is vast and resembles nothing. It is because it is vast that it resembles nothing. If it resembled anything, it would, long before now, have become small. [/chref]

Thought, no matter how sound, has no control over emotion. Emotion is what drives action and attention. Only patience can overcome emotion. What is patience? Maybe it is the 'yin' of emotion's 'yang'. Patience is [chref=78]water[/chref]. Patience is the Taoist approach to life. Patience is the [chref=61]stillness to take the lower position[/chref].

This is the irony: [chref=53]the great way is easy, yet people prefer by-paths[/chref]. However, with patience, 'it' is [chref=64]easy[/chref] from beginning to end. Lack of patience is what drives us off on to our by-paths. Patience is what the Taoist eye 'sees'.

What Does a Taoist Heart Desire?
Patience! And, what is patience but simply [chref=16]holding firmly to stillness[/chref]?

So, why can [chref=70]no one in the world can understand [this] or put [it] into practice[/chref]? Desire. [chref=19]Desires[/chref] smother patience and fill emptiness [chref=9]to the brim[/chref]. Thus, a Taoist [chref=15]desires not to be full.[/chref]

Patience isn't 'rational', it is an attitude, an emotion. Attitudes just are; they are beyond, beneath (or some other preposition) logical understanding. Though we can rationally know that patience is a virtue, that knowing cannot by itself make us more patient. We can only be more patient when we feel a '[chref=37]desire[/chref]' to be so. It may be [chref=70]very easy to understand[/chref], and yet understanding can never bring us to emotionally feel the sanity which patience brings: Patience is the emotional '[chref=41]image[/chref]' of simply [chref=48]doing less and less until one does nothing at all, and when one does nothing at all there is nothing that is undone.[/chref]

So, Now What?
The idea that [chref=64]it is easy[/chref], [chref=2]easy[/chref], [chref=53]easy[/chref], [chref=63]easy[/chref], [chref=70]easy[/chref] comes from the fact that it is easy. It is as easy as taking a breath. The idea that [chref=78] no one can put this knowledge into practice[/chref] comes from the fact that we never [chref=37]remain still[/chref] long enough to [chref=64]deal with things while [they are] still nothing[/chref].

We lack patience. Why? We honestly feel we can 'win'. :lol:


  • edited February 2006
    Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. 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 26
    The heavy is the root of the light;
    The still is the lord of the restless.

    Therefore the gentleman when travelling all day
    Never lets the heavily laden carts out of his sight.
    It is only ( or though) when he is safely behind walls and watch towers
    That he rests peacefully and is above worries.
    How, then, should a ruler of ten thousand chariots
    Make light of his own person in the eyes of the empire?

    If light, then the root is lost;
    If restless, then the lord is lost.

    Read commentary previously posted for this chapter.
  • edited December 1969
    [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.

    I'm heavy, as those who know me will attest. I've occasionally worried about this, feeling that maybe I'm too heavy and 'should' be lighter. Upon pondering this, I realized that such self doubt only occur when I'm lighter and my root is lost. Indeed, when I'm heavy and still, I am pretty much above worries.

    Which brings me to the next paragraph - an odd read, for me anyway. Victor Mair's translation sits a little better with me...

    Thus, the superior man may travel the whole day
    ...without leaving his heavy baggage cart.
    Though inside the courtyard walls of a noisy inn,
    ...he placidly rises above it all.

    This implies that as long as I don't loose my heavy root / still lord, I'll keep my 'eye on the ball', and be at peace in all situations. I've found this to be true. Knowing this is how 'it' works can help inform me about what's really going on in my life. Like my realization above: when I 'see' problems, I am actually 'seeing' symptoms of my own lost root, lost lord. Taking such full responsibility over life's experience actually makes life more peaceful and [chref=57]simple like the uncarved block[/chref]. I don't have to run around in circles endlessly chasing scapegoats... And besides, I'm getting too old for such nonsense.

    Okay now, taking full responsibility wound seem to make life less peaceful, right? Not so when we cease believing in free will and dedicate ourselves to [chref=65]complete conformity[/chref]. Simply being who we naturally are is the easiest [chref=43]thing in the world[/chref] to do.

    [chref=70]easy[/chref]? :wink:
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