Monday, December 11, 2017

Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu (Translated by Arthur Waley)

81 are the principles of Lao Tzu. Tao cannot be explained and can only be experienced. The only thing is that when someone puts it across like Lao Tzu does, we can only nod in agreement if we have experienced it sometime. But if there is one thing we learn from the Tao it is that the world's principles are of seeming paradoxes. Certainly of least effort, of softness, of yielding, of weak, of being supple, of bending and bowing, of egolessness, of dignity, of beauty, of receptivity, of unity, of contentment. The symbols are of supple and weak plants, of water, of low lying lands, of empty spaces, of those who stand behind and desire no war.
Translated by Arthur Waley

"True wisdom is different from much learning
Much learning means little wisdom"

He talks of doing things without doing. Of being soft. Of bending. Of being gentle. Of not having any firm likes and dislikes. Of seeing things as they are. And buy being so, achieving all and more. Some lines that I noted down.

He who rids himself forever of desire can see the Secret Essence.

He speaks of the danger of choosing one - because it will give rise to another. When we are attached to beauty we face ugliness, when we choose virtue we encounter wickedness - better not to be attached to one.

Rule people by employing their hearts, filling their bellies, weakening intelligence, toughening sinews; make people knowledgeless and desireless."

The way is to be empty - but can draw without needing to be filled. Valley spirit never dies. Draw as much but it never dries.

Put yourself in the background but always to fore; remain outside but always be there, strive for no personal end - to ever last.

The highest good is like water - benefits all but does not scramble, content with the places that all men disdain. Profound thought, gentleness in friendship, true words, order in government and no strife.

When your work is done, then withdraw.

Rear them but do not lay claim to them, control them but never lean upon them, be chief among them but do not manage them.

It is in the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel, the house, depends. Just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognise the usefulness of what is not.

He who is dealing with the empire regards his high rank as though it were his body is the best person to be entrusted with the rule. He rules his subjects as one should love one's body.

Do not fill yourself to the brim. Then you will endure all wear and need no renewal.

Strive towards void, quietness. The root of all things is quietness. Submission to fate. He who has room for everything has no prejudice.

The sage says not a word. The work gets done. And people say it happened on its own.

It is only when one thing appears that the other arrives.

It is only when there is desire that people sway. Give them things to do, that occupy them, keep them busy.

Banish learning and there will be no grieving. 

To remain whole be twisted, 
To become straight,let yourself be bent, 
To become full, be hollow
Those that have little may get more
Those that have much are perplexed

It is by not believing in people that you turn them into liars.

The small man, a man of consequence, will not be separated from his baggage wagon
The lord of 10000 chariots allows himself to be lighter
If he is light the foundation is low
If he is active, the lord and master is lost

Perfect activity leaves no track behind it.

Return to a state of infancy, to the state of the uncarved block
The greatest carver does the least cutting

Discard the absolute, the all-inclusive, the extreme

Fulfill purpose without boasting, pride, as a step that could not be avoided, without violence

Even when he conquers, does not regard weapons as lovely things.

The uncarved block is greater than anything under heaven
Once the block is carved there will be names
As soon as there are names, it is time to stop

Understand, conquer yourself,

Being content with what you have is to be rich

Tao produces but takes no possession
By not making a show of greatness, achieves greatness

Tao is to use, not see or listen

Dim the light before it shines bright, do the opposite of what needs to be done first, soft overcomes hard, weak overcomes strong

Get things done without doing
And 10000 things are transformed

After Tao was lost came power
After power was lost came human kindness
After human kindness was lost came morality
After morality was lost came ritual
Ritual is husk
Full grown men takes his stand upon the sorted substance and not husk

Humble is the stem upon which the mighty grows

Tao - the only motion is returning, weakness is the only quality, being is the product of non-being

Great form comes without shape, great music comes with faint notes, large squares have no corners

No man of violence can come to a good end

Teaching without words, action that is actionless, few understand it

He who grudges expense pays dearest in the end
He who has hoarded most will suffer the heaviest loss
Be content with what you have, none can despoil you
Who stops in time, nothing can harm

The most perfect seems to have something missing but works perfectly
Most full seems empty but never fails
Most straight seems crooked
Great skill appears clumsy
Staying still overcomes heat
Limpid calm puts everything right

No lure greater than to possess what others want
No disaster greater than not to be content with what one has
No presage of evil greater than that men should be wanting to get more

He who has once known the contentment that comes simply through being content, will never again be otherwise than contented

The further one travels, the less one knows
The sage arrives without going, sees without looking
Does nothing, achieves everything

Tao consists in subtracting day by day
Till one has reached inactivity
By this inactivity, everything can be activated

No heart of his own, the heart of the people as his heart
Good and bad he approves, and thus he gets goodness
For the world's sake, he dulls his wits
Seems dazed with fright

He who aims at life achieves death
He who has a true hold on life is not touched by animals or weapons, has no death spot

Rear but do not claim, content without leaning, be chief without managing

Strength means holding on to what is weak
An infant has the highest power, soft bones, strong grip
But to fill life to the brim is to invite omens,
Vigour invites decay

Those who know do not speak, who speak do not know

Do nothing, and people transform
In inactivity, people become prosperous
I have no wants, people return to the uncarved block

When the ruler looks depressed, people are happy and satisfied
Upon bad fortune, good fortune leans
Sage squares without cutting, gives light without shining

Running a large kingdom is like cooking small fish

A large kingdom must be like the low ground towards which all streams flow. The point where all things converge. Must be the female and get underneath to conquer the male. Large kingdoms needs inhabitants. Small kingdoms need some place to send surplus inhabitants

Tao is like the south west corner of the house, the treasure of the good man

Everything difficult must be dealt with when easy, when small

Deal in state of not-yet-being, put in order before confusion

He who acts harms, who grabs, lets up

Heed the end no less than the beginning
And your work will not be spoiled 

The more knowledge people have, the harder they are to rule
Those who rule without giving knowledge bring a stock of good fortune to the land

In order to be above, speak as though you are lower to the people

Only he that pities is truly brave,
Only he who is frugal is profuse
Only he who refuses to be foremost is capable of being the Chief of Ministers

The best charioteer does not rush ahead
The best fighters do not make a display of their wrath
The greatest conqueror wins without joining issue
The best user of men acts as if he were their inferior
This is the power of not contending

It is he who does not delight in war that wins

When you doubt your ability to meet the enemy's attack, take the offensive yourself. 
If you doubt your ability to advance an inch, then retreat a foot

To know when one does not know is best
To think one knows when one does not know is a dire disease
Only he who recognises this disease as a disease
Can cure himself of the disease
The Sage's way of curing the disease
Also consists in making people recognise their diseases as diseases and thus ceasing to be diseased

If you do not harass people they will not turn away form you
Know your value, but do not place yourself high

Conquer without striving, get answers without speaking, get things without beckoning
Coarse are the meshes but nothing slips through

He who tries to do the master carpenter's chipping will most likely cut his hand

People starve because people above them eat too much
People are difficult to keep in order because those above them interfere
People attach no importance to death because those above them are too grossly absorbed in the pursuit of life

When he is born, man is soft and weak: is death he becomes stiff and hard 
When things are alive they are supple and soft, but when they are dead, they become brittle and dry
What is stiff and hard is companion of death
The hard and mighty are cast down; the soft and weak are set on high.

Nothing under heaven is softer or more yielding than water
But when it attacks things hard and resistant there is not one of them that can prevail
The yielding conquers the resistant and the soft conquers the hard

It is Heaven's way, without distinction of persons, to keep the good perpetually supplied.

True words are not fine sounding, 
Fine sounding words are not true 
The good man does not prove by argument
And he who proves by argument is not good
True wisdom is different from learning
Much learning means little wisdom

For Heaven's way is to sharpen without cutting
And the Sage's way is to act without striving

My big lessons. About spending. About weakness. About softness. Read and reread. It's a never ending story. But more importantly, practice. Tao is not to listen and see, but to be.

No comments: