Chapter of the Week: #27 [Archive]

During my late teenage years I began to feel quite bewildered about life in general. I decided to read the Encyclopedia, cover to cover, thinking that doing this would teach me what I needed to know. Events changed and led me to emigrate to Australia instead, and from there, on and on for years. Talk about [chref=53]by-paths[/chref].

Now, after decades of travel, work, study, exploration, reflection,... on up to this moment, I'm still where I was as a youth - bewildered. No, it's not because I never did read the Encyclopedia! The difference is, back then I wanted to define the [chref=21]indistinct and shadowy[/chref]; now I simply attempt to [chref=65]conform[/chref] to it as best I can. Back then I thought I could 'find out'; now I know that there is no 'out' to find, per se. It is all 'in'. The 'out' is but a reflection of what is 'in'. To correlate it:

illusion = out, [chref=27]clever[/chref], linear, part, knowledge, sound, work, human, life, energy, matter,
reality = in, [chref=27]bewildered[/chref], circular, whole, knowing, silence, rest, animal, death, time, space,

These two groups appear to our senses as polar opposites, thanks to our biology. In truth, they share a [chref=56]mysterious sameness[/chref], which we can only feel from with 'in'. There's that 'in' again. How do we get 'in'? That is easy...

[chref=56]Block the openings;
Shut the doors.
Blunt the sharpness;
Untangle the knots;
Soften the glare;[/chref]

How do we do that? Again, that's easy...

[chref=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. [/chref]

How do we first do 'this' to have 'that'? No problem... If you are alive you are on your way....

[chref=51]The way gives them life;
Virtue rears them;
Things give them shape;
Circumstances bring them to maturity.[/chref]

There, I did it. I solved the 'worlds problems' :wink:. Now, I can go have lunch... :)


  • 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 27
    One who excels in travelling leaves no wheel tracks;
    One who excels in speech makes no slips;
    One who excels in reckoning uses no counting rods;
    One who excels in shutting uses no bolts
    yet what he has shut cannot be opened.
    One who excels in tying uses no cords
    yet what he has tied cannot be undone.

    Therefore the sage always excels in saving people, and so abandons no one;
    always excels in saving things, and so abandons nothing.

    This is called following one's discernment.

    Hence the good man is the teacher the bad learns from;
    And the bad man is the material the good works on.
    Not to value the teacher
    Nor to love the material
    Though it seems clever, betrays great bewilderment.

    This is called the essential and the secret.

    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.

    From a 'Worldly' point of view, "One who excels in..." seems to imply perfection. Not just the simple kind either; it's miraculous, e.g., he ties using no chords, yet what he has tied can't be undone. I'm impressed. :)

    Sarcasm aside, what does this imply from a Taoist point of view? For me this points to how to approach life. Excels in traveling is not about skill as such, but rather about perception. Thus, [chref=47]without stirring abroad, one can know the whole world; without looking out of the window, one can see the way of heaven.[/chref] The secret lies in not what we see, but how we see - not in what we do, but how.

    Excels in speech is not so much about being a great orator. Hitler was that after all. Thus, [chref=8]in speech it is good faith that matters,[/chref] until the time comes where [chref=5]much speech leads inevitably to silence.[/chref]

    Making slips is also about dwelling on the difference between how things are and how I wish they were. When I am sincere and humble in speech, I never feel I am making slips, even though I am, i.e., I'm no orator. In other words, when I [chref=28]know honor, but keep to the role of the disgraced[/chref], I excel in being natural.

    The key for me is discernment. Does "always excels in saving people, and so abandons no one; always excels in saving things, and so abandons nothing", mean I should never throw away my trash, and I should spend every waking moment saving people? This shows why following one's discernment is so important. Personally, I abandon no one and nothing by simply paying attention, watching, observing, noticing, caring, being mindful. At its deepest, this connection feels like I [chref=49]have no mind of my own. I take as my own the mind of the people.[/chref] I should add that when watchfulness is 'present', I do tend to excel in leaving no tracks, making no slips, etc., though not to the point of miraculous... :roll:

    The good man is the teacher the bad learns from; And the bad man is the material the good works on describes my relationship with myself over the years. Mind you, let's not forget the Taoist view of [chref=2]'good' ... 'bad'[/chref], eh?... :cry: :D :|
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