Chapter of the Week: #79

A desire for intoxication is a symptom of underlying need. Often desire leads us to actions than don't resolve the need, but rather mask it enough. Allow us to cope

I was thinking more about this in regards to my "desire for intoxication" via tobacco. I finally quite because some of the underlying need was met in other ways. Also, because I began to realize the 'mask' had its own drawbacks (I wanted to finish being a slave to tobacco).

I suspect that we only truly change when we either replace the activity with another than fills the underlying need, and/or (and probably both), we realize the activity isn't really giving us what we need any more. This helps induce us to look elsewhere. Slowly but surely, circumstances bring us to maturity.


  • edited September 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 79
    When peace is made between great enemies,
    Some enmity is bound to remain un-dispelled.
    How can this be considered perfect?

    Therefore the sage take the left-hand tally, but exacts no payment from the people.
    The man of virtue takes charge of the tally;
    The man of no virtue takes charge of exaction.

    It is the way of heaven to show no favoritism.
    It is for ever on the side of the good man.

    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.]

    That the way of heaven is for ever on the side of the good man is another way of saying kindness is its own reward. Thus, I can’t imagine anyone choosing to be unkind. I certainly don’t. My unkindness is just a symptom of my own pain. When I’m content, I’m kinder and gentler. But, like war and peace, these two are dynamic duos. To paraphrase chapter two, [chref=2]cruelty and kindness off-set each other[/chref]. I’ve often found one to be in the guise of the other. I see a parallel in, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. (from St. Bernard of Clairvaux about 1150), and in [chref=38]A man of the highest virtue does not keep to virtue and that is why he has virtue. A man of the lowest virtue never strays from virtue and that is why he is without virtue.[/chref].

    D.C . Lau and I translated the ‘left-hand tally’ portion a little differently though I guess we are saying the same thing, just coming at it from two different angles. The whole notion of peace is curious. Indeed, it’s a tug-of-war, i.e., there is no peace without war. Nevertheless, the heart cries out for peace – peace of mind if nothing else. And with peace of mind the rest will always take care of itself. Taking charge of the tally means noticing the balance of forces at play and how things stack up at the moment. It is easy to not take charge of exaction when I know the tide will turn — ahead today, behind tomorrow. Only by maintaining as large a view as possible can I hope to conform to the way of heaven and show no favoritism. Showing no favoritism is the only gateway to peace of mind of which I am aware. Oh well, as we say, [chref=45]great perfection seems chipped[/chref]. And so this way of looking at life may be the only way I can ‘have my cake and eat it too’.

    A translation, although unorthodox, can be satisfactory:
    Along with great resentment must exist remaining resentment.
    Peace, although unorthodox, can be satisfactory.
    That is because the wise person manages the unorthodox contract, and doesn't punish the people.
    In having kindness takes charge of the contract,
    In not having kindness take charge of the penetration.
    Nature's way is without match.
    Constantly helping the kind person.

    Although, the literal seems no less unorthodox
    gentle (together with; and) big (great) resentment (enmity; blame) certainly (must; will) have surplus (remaining) resentment (enmity; blame).
    peaceful (quiet; safe) can (may) the left (strange, unorthodox, wrong) do (act; act as; become; be; mean) good (satisfactory; kind; be expert in).
    this (that) use (take; because of; so as to, and) wise person hold (grasp; manage) the left (strange, unorthodox, wrong) engrave (agree; contract),
    but (yet, and) not duty (responsibility, punish) at (in) people.
    have virtue (moral character; mind; kindness) take charge of (attend to; manage) engrave (agree; contract),
    nothing (nil; not have; without) virtue (moral character; heart; mind; kindness) take charge of (attend to; manage) thorough (penetrating).
    sky (heaven, nature; God) road (way, path, speak) nothing (nil; without; not) parent (relative; match; intimate).
    ordinary (normal; constant) give (offer; help; and, together with) good (perfect; kind; friendly) person.
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