Chapter of the Week: #45 [Archive]

oh man, kids crazy about them, so we spend alot of time watching shows and reading about will end up the same way, and wont even last as long as they did...


  • edited June 2006
    Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. Chapter 45 was originally featured on the 3rd week in November, 2004.

    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 45
    Great perfection seems chipped,
    Yet use will not wear it out;
    Great fullness seems empty,
    Yet use will not drain it;
    Great straightness seems bent;
    Great skill seems awkward;
    Great eloquence seems tongue-tied.

    Restlessness overcomes cold; stillness overcomes heat.

    Limpid and still,
    One can be a leader in the empire.
  • edited December 1969
    Restlessness overcomes cold and so on, models how the exterior of 'things' is simply a reflection, and thus symptomatic, of a [chref=21]shadowy[/chref] interior really. So, if you see me strutting around boasting of my wondrous attributes you may be certain that this is driven by a deep underlying sense of insecurity within me. I'm just compensating for what I lack within myself.

    Of course, we don't innately tend to see life thus. We're biologically set up to 'judge the book by its cover' and react accordingly. In doing so, though, we are not reacting to how things are, i.e., underlying realities, but rather to how things seem. And so nothing ever really changes despite our best intentions.

    Being a leader in the empire (even if that empire is just my simple life) entails dealing with various degrees of chaos - ah, such is life. The more limpid and still my interior, the more graceful I manage the chaotic exterior ebb and flow that is my life.

    I most easily understand "Great fullness seems empty, Yet use will not drain it;" and so forth, when I reflect on how fullness and emptiness produce / [chref=2]off-set each other[/chref]. When I know that both 'what is' and 'what is not' are co-generated, I know that use will not drain it.

    So what? I think one of the most disconcerting things in life is the mistaken sense we have of a linear finality... absolute endings, failures, death, loss... and such. The sense of such finality is a biologically induced illusion to make us take life seriously. That's fine, but I prefer a tad more [chref=37]peace[/chref] in my life so I'm not going to play biology's / nature's game whole hog if I can help it. Thus, I could add another line to this chapter... Great life seems dead,... each is diminished by fearing the other.
  • JoeJoe
    edited December 1969
    I see great perfection as being reality, how things actually are. Being chipped is when I see reality through my desires. The more I can step back and see how transitory all these desires are, the more I can see the true perfection of reality, and be content instead of chasing after desires and trying to change reality.

    For me, restlessness and stillness has a connection with ?taking no action? from other chapters, in that it speaks to being in balance. It?s not that I should literally take no action, but that the more I?m centered and balanced within, the more I just naturally will move from restlessness to stillness, back to restlessness, as my life progresses.

    Great eloquence seems tongue-tied reminds me of the illusion of fulfillment of desire. The more I pay attention to the true nature of this illusion, and I use the uncarved block to press down on desire, the less inclined I am to want to say something about whatever situation is happening. I?m more likely to recognize the play of desires with the people involved in the situation, and don?t feel a need to try to ?explain or enlighten? the others. I recognize that each of us is most likely to see the reality of a situation, to see beyond the illusions of desire, when we?re ready within ourselves, not when someone tries to use words, which just cannot convey the experience.
  • edited December 1969
    So often, when we see something different from what we're used to, we fear it, we seek to define it, or even to destroy it. We see this with art, with other races, cultures and religions, with those at peace within themselves, and so many other things. That's easier than trying to understand it, or to admit that something is 'great' other than what we know ourselves. Thats easier than changing or building ourselves up. We look for flaws and excuses.
    When I go barefoot, I'm more at peace with myself and the world than at any other time. Yet it is exactly at these times that others question and confront me the most, seek to find some reason or ugliness behind my nonconformity.
    Again a quote comes to mind, from Jonathan Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world, you will know him by this sign: all the dunces will be in confederacy against him."
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