Chapter of the Week: #76

Hi Carl
Initially there did seem to me that there was a strong emphasis on the intellectual aspects of tao dissecting things to the point of no point (if you get my point)
And there is a place for that but that’s not a definition of tao IMMHO
It’s a bit like TTC 24
I felt it was limiting the discussion where Joe average maybe didn’t feel comfortable
And there is one thing I cant stand its people telling me what TAO is, I am more than willing to listen to someone’s opinion but that is just that there experiences with tao not mine, I find tao is different for everyone and of the moment
I no there are basic principles of tao and an underling essence.
I am not a big one for following the party line myself lol
And I try not to let my ego get the better of me I am always willing and eager to learn

If a man speaks or acts with a pure mind joy will follow him as his own shadow

he gou RD BOB


  • edited August 2008
    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 76
    A man is supple and weak when living, but hard and stiff when dead. Grass and
    trees are pliant and fragile when living, but dried and shriveled when dead.
    Thus the hard and the strong are the comrades of death; the supple and the weak
    are the comrades of life.

    Therefore a weapon that is strong will not vanquish;
    A tree that is strong will suffer the axe.
    The strong and big takes the lower position,
    The supple and weak takes the higher position.

    Read commentary previously posted for this chapter.
    Read notes on translations
    Now, do it too at Wengu!
  • 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.]

    This chapter reads a little odd to me. I usually correlate death with supple and weak; life with hard and stiff, i.e., life must resist entropy. Resistance is ‘keeping a stiff upper lip’, putting up a strong and hard wall (cell wall, lipid membrane, etc.) to keep entropy at bay for life’s moment in the sun. Death returns us to the amorphous whole — [chref=14]returns ‘us’ to that which is without substance[/chref]. Hard and stiff is hardly that which is without substance. Ironically, I find that adopting death as a [chref=28]model[/chref] for living life makes life more alive. [chref=75]Setting too much store by life[/chref] has the unintended consequence of diminishing life.

    Certainly though, death is initially hard, stiff, dried and shriveled. But, the initial state of most everything is illusionary. As composted dead stuff demonstrates, death is entropy, embodying the opposite of hard, stiff, dried and shriveled. While [chref=40]weakness is the means the way employs[/chref], living things need strength to maintain homeostasis. Life must act! Humanity over acts and reacts and so needs to [chref=43]know the benefit of resorting to no action[/chref]. Our problem lies in the lack of balance civilization fosters. Civilization enables us to be less pliant and yielding than we might other wise be in the wild.

    Also, the ‘yin and yang’ of this chapter is odd. Yin corresponds to supple and weak, yang to strong and hard. Yang is above ‘superior’, yin is below ‘inferior’. Of course, once we bring [chref=56]mysterious sameness[/chref] into view the whole picture collapses into a [chref=15]subtle, makeshift ,tentative, vacant, murky[/chref] mess of words. Isn’t the Taoist point of view nifty!

    The weak and fragile translation?
    People, of life weak and delicate,
    Their death hard and unyielding.
    Plants, of life soft and yielding,
    Their death withered and haggard.
    Therefore the hard and unyielding, of death only,
    The weak and fragile, of life only.
    Destuction is normal for the use of strong weapons,
    Breaking is normal for the strong tree.
    The big and powerful dwell below,
    The weak and fragile dwell above.

    The hard and unyielding literal?
    person of existence (life) also (too; either) weak (delicate),
    his (her; its; their; they; that; such) die (death; extremely; rigid) also (too; either) strong (firm; unyielding).
    grass (careless; hasty) tree (wood) of existence (life) also (too; either) soft (supple, yielding) fragile (brittle; crisp),
    his (her; its; their; they; that; such) die (death; extremely; rigid) withered (haggard).
    therefore the strong (firm; unyielding) die (death; extremely; rigid) of on foot (empty; only; follower; believer; imprisonment),
    the weak (delicate) existence (life) of on foot (empty; only; follower; believer; imprisonment).
    this use (take; because of) weapons stubborn (strive, strong) standard (norm, follow) extinguish (put out; destroy,
    tree stubborn (strive, strong) standard (norm; follow) break (lose; bend).
    big and powerful (powerful; formidable) be situated in (manage, dwell; live) below (down; under; underneath; lower; inferior),
    weak (delicate) be situated in (manage, dwell; live) upper (higher; superior; previous; fill; supply; serve)
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