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Verse Twelve


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2007

Verse Twelve

translated by John C. H. Wu, 1961

The five colours blind the eye.
The five tones deafen the ear.
The five flavours cloy the palate.
Racing and hunting madden the mind.
Rare goods tempt men to do wrong.

Therefore, the Sage takes care of the belly, not the eye.
He prefers what is within to what is without.

Verse Twelve

translated by Red Pine, 1996

The five colours make our eyes blind
the five tones make our ears deaf
the five flavours make our mouths numb
riding and hunting make our minds wild
hard-to-get goods make us break laws
thus the rule of the sage
puts the stomach ahead of the eyes
thus he picks this over that

Verse Twelve

from Spirit of the Tao Te Ching by Jeff Rasmussen, 2000

Colors blind
Tone deafens
Flavor dulls

Grasping maddens
Acquiring impoverishes

Let go of the outer and choose the inner


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2007

Here's a quote from Douglas.

"Emptiness is a favourite synonym for the Tao, which is like enclosed by a pot and without which it is useless, and like the still hub without which a wheel cannot turn, Taoists also describe it as the Void, the Valley, the inexhaustible and bottomless and formless Origin of all forms, the Uncarved Block, the Always-so, the Primal Simplicity, the Quietness, Darker than any Mystery. Most significant of all, it it This and not That. In other words, it is right here. What one really is, one's own True Nature as well as the Nature of Things."

We've come across several of these names for emptiness already. The wheel and the pot were in Verse Eleven. In Red Pine's version we have the words that Douglas says are most significant of all€This and That. And in Rasmussen's version the words are inner and outer. In Wu's version they are within and without. If all this isn't what Douglas called the Grand Design, I don't know what it is. And I don't know how it could be put more simply and directly. To me, this is headless seeing, pure and simple.

Jim


From: Janet
Posted: Sat Nov 24, 2007

hi jim, and all,

well, my take on this verse is focusing inwardly rather than on outward things. it works well in every situation. Here, is where i am content, satisfied, and steady, no matter what the changing things are that appear. outwardly there are distinctions, nuances, and comparisons that are made. inwardly all that dissolves into no-thing.

a recent example i can use is in my health. my body has been challenged with illnesses that have effected it. most recent, my whole left side is challenged after a stroke. i felt i was really struggling in everyday tasks, mostly due to extra effort to move the left side, and to cope with extreme pain that has been the returning sensation i received. i felt i was using a lot of force to 'move the world'.

anyway, i had to ask myself, how much effort is necessary? what am i doing? i had to let all my ideas go of the physical. letting 'effort and doing' fall away. been practicing it, just focusing inwardly, and letting the world move at it own pace. i really feel much more connected to my being, and not the physical condition. the world moves slowly right now, but less effort, tenseness, and some pain relief from my left side.

the sensations from the left side were such a focus before, where now, i admit there is only a sensation of heaviness, and some pressure when the world moves. i experience pain, but not such a focus. i feel some relief with this practice. i will continue for as much as its improved so far, and see what happens next.

love,
janet


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007

Hi Janet,

Quote: my take on this verse is focusing inwardly rather than on outward things. it works well in every situation.

It does seem to be saying that the inner comes first€before the outer. I'm glad this approach has helped you with the pain you have felt after the stroke. I've had health problems at times, but I haven't had to deal with lasting physical pain like you describe. Still it makes sense that taking the focus off the pain and bringing it inward would help. Thanks for sharing that.

Love,
Jim


From: Janet
Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2007

jimclatfelter wrote: It does seem to be saying that the inner comes first€before the outer.

hi jim,

yes, thats a good way of putting it. maybe its shifting the focus, is all. it doesn't do away with the experience one has, but as the saying goes, 'first things, first'.......then, i suppose, everything else follows. maybe it gives one another perspective for the experience thats being lived.

thank you.

love,
janet


From: Janet
Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2007

hi jim and all,

don't just go by me and my experience. there are many more experiences and examples given in life that you may relate to this verse.

its just easier for me to see the meaning of the verses from my own experience. so, that is my expression. it is NOT to take away from your expression. well, just wanted to make that statement.

thank you.

love,
janet


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2007
:
Hi Janet and All,

I have always been a little puzzled about this. As I read Lao Tzu€in this verse€and Douglas, they say to prefer the inner over the outer, this over that. Douglas even talks about who I really, really, really am. I understand the importance of the inner dimension in making me whole, but I don't understand how it is somehow better or more important and real than the outer dimension. The two always come together. They seem like equal halves of my presence and my life.

I do understand that there is much confusion over the inner dimension, confusion that headless seeing instantly clears up. As we grow up, we are trained to ignore the inner dimension. Some of us sense that there is more. And some of us have been lucky enough to find the missing half, the half where everything is missing. It was a great discovery for me. But am I now to think that what I have discovered is to be preferred over what I was already aware of€the outside world, the ten thousand things?

I'd like to know what others think. Is the inner greater than the outer? In what ways is it greater? Are there ways in which the outer is greater than the inner? Do you think that the inner and outer are equal partners or complements?

I really like to know your opinions.

Thanks,
Jim


Home: Steve Palmer
Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2007

Hi Jim

I have read other posts by you on the inner and the outer being of equal value / interest and found them very balanced (no pun intended ) and inspiring.

Douglas pointed in both directions and surrender to the bigger / inner / clear/ / mysterious / who you really really are / The busted open for love one / spacious one...etc... benefits 100 percent the little worldly one in the mirror, because they are not two in essences.
How can they be separate ?

One of Douglas's last poems talked of gratefulness. Looking in both directions is the Source / Great Fullness which when seen / noticed brings a feeling of gratefulness and the desire to trust the Source with the details of the little ones life.

"Do Not Go Ungrateful "

Do not go ungrateful into your everlasting bliss, but let your gratitute

surface with your mounting amazement that anything at all exists and that

only the first person singular present tense is really and truly awake and

is none other than the Love that makes the world go round and leaves

no -one whatever out........written by Douglas Harding on his 97th

birthday ( February 12, 2006 )

Love

Steve


From: jimclatfelter

Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2007

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your response. That's a nice poem that Douglas wrote. Amazement that all this is here and that I am here to be aware of it€that sums up how it feels.

I think I am confusing myself about this whole matter. As you say, seeing the aware capacity here adds 100% to seeing the things of the world, including my own image in the mirror. I suppose I feel that what is important is to add this empty side back into the picture. That is what gives life to all things and to my existence.

Thanks,
Jim


From: orebor
Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2007

Hi all,

Jim wrote:
I understand the importance of the inner dimension in making me whole, but I don't understand how it is somehow better or more important and real than the outer dimension.

Neither do I. I must be interpreting it wrong, somehow. I cannot find this in-out distinction while headless. What is out there? Me among everything. What is in here? All things with me.Where is this in-place? I SEE no where it is not. Where is then this out-place? Everywhere, here too. No thing is separated from anything in this in-out-kind of way. No inside-outside borders between anything, just as there are no borders around it all. The sense of IN and the sense of OUT are completely coinciding everywhere.

It must be a problem with words again, with language. Words distinct. Words separate and border of. IN usually also means not-out and vice versa. Words exclude as much as INclude... Maybe it's better understood as "prefer including over excluding" or something.

A thought just occured: maybe Lao-Tzu is saying this to people not familiar with any headless-like experience, people that only know an outside that is completeley distinct from inside, people for whom every experience (through the senses) indeed soon pails, something that just does not happen while headless. Maybe he means to direct their attention inwards, so they may experience the total in-out-merger that any headless-like experience brings. Maybe he is not describing the experience, but luring those that don't know it to where they might find it. Just as Douglas Harding did with us

This way this verse does make sense to me. I've noticed that all kinds of murky flowery statements in spiritual literature, like all those quotes Douglas Harding collected, that were mysterious to me and did not seem helpful in discovering the experience for my self, are now as obvious as cheese (??? I'm dutch, what can I say). It took plain talk, Douglas's writing, using ordinary directions that can be understood without allready knowing what it leads to. Directions how to get there, for people who haven't been there yet and don't know the territory, are not the same thing as beautiful discriptions of the view one experiences once arrived there. The latter are a delightful confirmation of arrival now, but probably won't help one getting there. It didn't for me.

Wow, that was a long ramble-on . That's what you get for asking an opinion, with me

Bye now,
Orestes


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2007

Hi Orestes,

Your "ramble" is much appreciated. To me the distinction between in and out becomes very subtle. What I am seeing, indeed what I am, is a single presence, yet within it are distinctions. The finger that point in points to no color. The finger that points out points to many colors. I don't see a boundary between colors and no color. They are just aspects or directions or ways of looking. When I take in the whole view, I am certainly aware of this bare capacity that is always with me. I don't so much look at it as look through it. Yet I am aware of its presence. I look through this to see that. I don't "pick this over that" really. I include both. As you say, it's probably a problem with words and language.

Maybe seeing can be described as "seeing" or including this emptiness or transparency which I see through.

Jim


From: headexchange
Posted: Thu Nov 29, 2007

I think language makes it sound like the emptiness is separate from the filling. It's a useful distinction, but the experience is non-verbal and not-two. Seeing this, language is then a great tool, not a problem. As Rumi says, language is inside seeing:

Again I€m within myself. I walked away, but here I come sailing back, feet in the air, upside-down, as a saint when he opens his eyes from prayer: Now. The room, the tablecloth, familiar faces€ Listen, if you can stand to. Union with the Friend means not being who you€ve been, being instead silence: a place: a view where language is inside seeing. (Rumi)

Richard


From: Janet
Posted: Thu Nov 29, 2007

hi jim and all,

i don't know that i'd say there is a preference for the inner over the outer.
like everyone has pretty much said, they are not two. but, clearly there is a distinction. with that, it's a little like peace or a settling of it all right here. now, its recognised, and it brings it all together, which is what it is already without effort. with this clear recognition, i know its always available to me. sure, i still doubt, and then i turn to it! its instant!

knowing who i really really am, illuminates the world. i think that is what i was referring to before when i said first things first. maybe that is more clarity to whoever is reading these words.

realizing capacity for the whole world, every bitty thing, softens the sharp edges (like coping with pain, and whatnot). its easy to experience fun, joy, etc., and its the other stuff like pain, sadness, and loss that challenges. but, it all comes out of the same capacity. why not be the capacity for it all? (is that a question or statement?)

wonderful discussion.

warning: i have no sage to quote or refer to. you're on your own. so, read with caution!

love to all,
janet


From: Luc
Posted: Thu Nov 29, 2007

For me in and out are just words, meaningful if I try to explain Seeing to others. In is not better or greater than out, because both can't be separated.
It is maybe easier when I close my eyes. Then the visual 'out' disappears, but I can't decide whether what I hear and feel then is in or out. No borderline ...

Lau Tze, as I see it, is pointing out in this verse that the variety of things and experiences can drag us along. We then forget the Void in which they appear and that is our true Nature. We see ourselves as little persons in the world, running from one experience to another.

Maybe for a time we have to prefer what is inside - our self-inquiry - in order to be able to look past or through the endless variety of sensations and experiences and find the Silence, in which they appear. And once found, we discover that this Silence is inside everything, as much as everything appears in It. I loose my head and gain the world, as Douglas put it !

Luc


From: ja_juan
Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009

This is a good verse for the greedy little "bussinessmen of living".

Many sensations, materiality and craving about it, makes the sense organs go numb.
It's not that it's bad, it's just a less effective way of living because you begin losing the things you crave for.
So, "investing" your attention this way is bad.

Instead, slightly change your world view, be space for sensations and everything begins to flow again.
Flow = life. Richer life.
You seem to lose what you let go of by being space for it, but instead you gain the whole phenomenon of the cosmos that now has begun flowing inside you.

I was reading a meditation booklet once, and it was mentioned there (not the exact words):
Let the sensation or pain to flow in you. Be space for it. You'll see that it begins to move and change and many new things will appear and disappear.

If you're after only one thing or after worldly goods, instead of being curious for the world, your senses will soon get bored and you will lose even that.

-Be "nobly avaricious" by chosing the inside nothingness.
It pays back more.
-By chosing material things over the void, you're not as greedy as you CAN be... and this is "bad business".
-Accept every present that is given to you by accepting nothing in particular.


Headless on Youtube
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