Dao De Jing
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Verse Twenty Five


From: jimclatfelter

Posted: Fri Mar 21, 2008

Bradford Hatcher, 2005

There was something in chaos (yet) complete
Before heaven & earth came to be
So silent, so remote
Standing alone without change
Acting everywhere and without limit
(It) may be regarded as mother to (all) under heaven
We do not know its name
A word for it speaks of a path
(If) pressed to develop its name speak of greatness
Greatness tells of journeying on
Journeying on tells of the far beyond
The far beyond tells of coming back
In this way the way is great
Heaven is great, earth is great
And sovereignty, too, is great
Between the horizons are four (kinds of) greatness
And sovereignty has its place as one among these
Humanity takes the earth as law
The earth takes heaven as law
Heaven takes the way as law
The way takes its own nature as law

Verse Twenty Five
Herrymon Maurer, 1985

Something there is without form and complete,
Born before heaven and earth,
Solitary and vast,
Standing alone without change,
Everywhere pervading all things,
Mothering all beneath heaven.
I don't know its name;
I style it Tao,
And for want of a name call it great.
To be great is to go on.
To go on is to be far.
To be far is to return.
Therefore,
Tao is great.
Earth is great.
Man is great.
The universe has four greats,
And man is one of them.
Man follows earth;
Earth follows heaven;
Heaven follows Tao;
Tao follows itself.

Verse Twenty Five
David Lindauer

A presence of a thing mixed completely
Before the birth of heavens and earth
So lonely, so deserted
Standing alone yet without deviating
Working everywhere yet lacking danger
Action of the mother of the world can happen.

I have no knowledge of its name
Giving a word, I say tao.
Stubbornly trying to name it I say great
Great, I say passing by
Passing by, I say far-reaching
Far-reaching, I say returning.

So tao is great, heavens are great, earth is great
Kings are also great.
In the center of the universe are four greatnesses
Yet kings stand still, blending them into one.

Man is an offshoot of earth
Earth is an offshoot of the heavens
The heavens are an offshoot of tao
Tao is an offshoot of the natural.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Mar 21, 2008

For many years this was my favorite verse. Whenever I came across a version of the Tao Te Ching I hadn't seen before, I would look at this verse first to get an initial impression.

It begins with what looks like a Genesis story. Order is born out of chaos, out of a presence that is silent, vast, changeless, alone, constant, and complete. It seems to me that this is equivalent to the inward view. It pervades all things, acts everywhere without limits.

This presence doesn't have a name. He "styles" it Tao. He gives it a nickname, an alias, a pseudonym. He doesn't name it as we name the "ten thousand things" of the outward view. It's the non-presence in the midst of presence. It has no distinguishing marks. Yet is is the "mother" of of all things. It's the origin and ground. It's the ground and the support. It's the origin and the nourisher, the mother of what is.

Then he calls it great. He says it goes out and then returns. This reminds me of Douglas's stages of life. After the infant stage, our attention goes out to the far side in the growing up process. He says that to be far tells of returning and coming back. We regain consciously what the infant had unconsciously. We have to go out in order to return. We go from unconsciousness wholeness to 3rd person separation to the conscious wholeness of the 1st person.

Humans follow earth. Earth follows heaven. Heaven follows Tao. Tao follows itself. Tao is natural and spontaneous. It gives rise to a harmonious universe. Isn't this the hierarchy of heaven and earth? It puts human existence into a cosmic and hierarchical context.

This verse is packed with meaning, with parallels to headless seeing, and its development in human awareness, and to the hierarchy of heaven and earth. Great stuff!

Jim


From: Janet
Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2008

hi jim,

not sure if i 'get it' quite right. but, just a sense (a simple one)....

the verse tells me that everything follows -in an endless circle. i don't see a beginning, or an end. wherever it leads, it also returns. Here, stillness, emptiness, and changeless, for the continuously moving universe There. these aspects are complementary. the tao is wholeness. headless exercises point ways to look for yourself (first hand).

love,
janet


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2008

Hi Janet,

I agree with you on this. There is a radical wholeness to what is present right now. What is present right now is all that is, and all that was or will be. It's never been any different, and it never will be. There is nothing outside or beyond it. There is a joy and satisfaction in seeing this and living it. I may not be aware of this always, but I am aware of it a great deal of the time, and the feeling of satisfaction carries over. Even if the feeling dims, the design of seeing doesn't change. Wholeness remains, and it remains accessible. As you say€no beginning and no end.

Thanks for your comments,
Jim


From: simon
Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:20 am

On first reading, I find this a curious verse.
The precedent verses seem to point at the futility of playing the "face game": that assuming an identity or 'trying' too hard is unnatural and a waste of energy. An interesting point as it sometimes seems that such "putting one's self forward" type behaviour is called for in social or work situations...
This verse, however, seems to take a different tack.

Quote:
Something there is without form and complete,
Born before heaven and earth,
Solitary and vast,
Standing alone without change,

This reminds me of what can be seen.felt sometimes in meditation: to use headless terminology I would rabbit on about the void 'before' it is filled (if that makes any sense to anyone!)
The 'circular' idea (Yes, Janet, I see a wholeness here, too) of
Quote:
Greatness tells of journeying on
Journeying on tells of the far beyond
The far beyond tells of coming back

And then all is brought together again with 'man' at 'proper.real place' (the one place one has never -in truth - left)
Quote: And sovereignty has its place as one among these

Quote:
In the center of the universe are four greatnesses
Yet kings stand still, blending them into one.

This is a fine description of Seeing: everything is in place :-
just an absence of any 'one' to take the credit... nothing 'superior' or 'inferior', What satisfaction and simplicity!
The - how to say - feeling of sovereignty ... brings Thomas Traherne to mind
"You never enjoy the world aright,
till the sea itself floweth in your veins
till you are clothed with the heavens
and crowned with the stars..."

It continues (if memory serves)

"Till your spirit filleth the whole world, and the stars are your jewels...
till you are intimately acquainted with that shady nothing out of which the world was made..., you never enjoy the world."

(Centuries I v.29-30)
This is our birthright, and seeing brings it / us home.

Great verse, puzzling in my translation: the ones you chose make it more 'approachable', Thanks Jim!


From: Janet
Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008

hi jim and simon,

thank you for bringing more clarity. it seems to me, that it is continually creating out of itself, and returning to dissolve into itself. though, i find no beginning or ending. it doesn't miss a beat, ya know?

its freedom from the personal. aaaahhhh, relief!

to add to that, there is nothing to add. it surprises me that we still continue to point out behaviors that we perceive as not following 'headlessness' or 'tao'. when what is, is already whole, as it is. everything is just following its course.

i know i always point that out! you are all probably tired of that! but, it may be to balance the view. i don't know....and....you can't blame me!

love,
janet


From: Janet
Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008

hope there are no objection to my posting these words. i see a relation to the present discussion. thanks.

The scriptures even proclaim aloud: "There is in
truth no creation and no destruction; no one is bound,
no one is seeking Liberation, no one is on the way to
Deliverance. There are none liberated. This is the
absolute truth." My dear disciple, this, the sum and
substance of all the Upanishads, the secret of secrets,
is my instruction to you."

- Shankaracharya


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008

Quote: its freedom from the personal. aaaahhhh, relief!

to add to that, there is nothing to add. it surprises me that we still continue to point out behaviors that we perceive as not following 'headlessness' or 'tao'. when what is, is already whole, as it is. everything is just following its course.

i know i always point that out! you are all probably tired of that! but, it may be to balance the view. i don't know....and....you can't blame me! "

Hi Janet

I enjoyed reading the above.....Every"thing" is arising and passing yet aways completely whole ......maybe the pointing out of behaviour that causes suffering or is immature is just another naturally arising action too.

The tension of understanding and ignorance we all experience.......the ying and yang etc
I am not sure exactly how to put it .

Maybe there is the opposites and that which beyond the opposites and is at peace while the opposites change like a kaleidoscope night and day........... The Headless space, silent and still............ho hum : )

Regards

Steve


From: Janet
Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008

Steve Palmer wrote:
The tension of understanding and ignorance we all experience.......the ying and yang etc
I am not sure exactly how to put it .

Maybe there is the opposites and that which beyond the opposites and is at peace while the opposites change like a kaleidoscope night and day........... The Headless space, silent and still............ho hum : )

hi steve,

that is a wonderful way to put it! i like that very much!

i really like that you say 'we all experience'. no one is excluded from understanding and ignorance. we share it.

btw, i get the feeling you understand what i was trying to say. you said it very well.

love,
janet


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