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Verse Twenty Nine


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 4

Verse Twenty Nine
by Yi Wu

If one wants to possess the world and act upon it,
I know that he cannot get it.
The world is a sacred vessel;
It cannot be acted upon.
To act upon it is to destroy it.
To grasp it is to lose it.
Therefore, in all things,
Some lead, some follow,
Some blow warm, some blow cool,
Some are strong, some are weak,
Some destroy, some are destroyed.
Therefore, the sage avoids the extreme,
The extravagant, and the excessive.

Verse Twenty Nine
by Witter Bynner, 1944

Those who would take over the earth
And shape it to their will
Never, I notice, succeed.
The earth is like a vessel so sacred
That at the mere approach of the profane
It is marred
And when they reach out their fingers it is gone.
For a time in the world some force themselves ahead
And some are left behind,
For a time in the world some make a great noise
And some are held silent,
For a time in the world some are puffed fat
And some are kept hungry,
For a time in the world some push aboard
And some are tipped out:
At no time in the world will a man who is sane
Over-reach himself,
Over-spend himself,
Over-rate himself.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2008

This verse seems to be saying that willful approaches to life don't work. Life has its own ways, and we should respect them and act in harmony with them. It's certainly a realistic, face-the-facts verse. Some are ahead. Some are held back. We experience good times and bad. Douglas talked about God's will as being just what is happening right now. One accepts that what is happening is God's will, and one then acts accordingly.

I'm sure someone can say it better than I have. I'm never sure where will comes into the picture. Will seems to me like an afterthought to action. I'm just not sure how or if will directs our lives. I'd welcome your ideas on the subject.

Thanks,
Jim


From: simon
Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2008

This verse contains an interesting observation of the world, doesn't it?
Quote:
Those who would take over the earth
And shape it to their will
Never, I notice, succeed.

Makes me think of the 'law of opposites': how "trying" seems to result in the opposite of what was intended (fighting for peace, passing laws to try to force people to be 'virtuous', intensive agriculture methods that kill off all micro-flora and fauna in the soil, overgrazing that causes desertification...)

Your question about 'will', Jim... Links in my mind with the wonderful question from Hafiz :
"How is it that invisible thoughts can lift heavy matter
And build cities and armies and altars?"

Either way, the tensions that "trying" puts onto shoulders and into muscles fall away with seeing
Quote:
To grasp it is to lose it.

The last line seems to talk about knowing one's limits:
Quote:
At no time in the world will a man who is sane
Over-reach himself,
Over-spend himself,
Over-rate himself.

But where are these limits?
Looking 'in' (or however one likes to put it) ... well, you get my drift!
The limits belong to...

I don't know exactly when these lines were written, but it could have been this morning, some things don't change with time, no-thing also!
It reads very 'modern' to me anyway.

love to all,
simon


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2008

Hi Simon,

I like what you say about trying. Trying and will are related concepts. One certainly does not have to try to See. It just happens on its own. Spontaneity is a theme that comes up repeatedly in the Tao Te Ching. This spontaneity results in "the tensions of trying falling away." Relax. It happens on its own. That's a big theme in these verses. For me, it's a theme of Seeing as well. Seeing is easy and natural.

Love,
Jim


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Wed Apr 23, 2008

"Seeing is easy and natural."

Hi Jim

I like your short but succinct statement re: Seeing.

I only seem to be able to take in or favour brief and clear statements, as teachings, as i get older.

Re: "The wilful approach to life not working"
It makes me think of my Tai Chi teacher who always tells us to relax and not " do " Tai Chi.

He also talks about practising " slob Tai Chi " the form with minimal effort, except an alive spine, to see how it feels.

Easy and natural.

Steve


From: Luc
Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2008

Well I drop in a little late maybe, but willing and trying are important issues for me.

The Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita) in Buddhism says :

There is no wisdom or any attainment.
With nothing to attain, Bodhisattvas relying on Prajnaparamita
have no obstructions in their minds.
Having no obstructions, there is no fear

This one phrase moves me. If there is no attainment, if willing and trying don't really exist, then there is no obstruction in my mind. Willing keeps me from seeing, even from Seeing, or maybe most of all from Seeing.
It puts an obstruction in my mind, keeping me from seeing what I don't want, what I don't expect.
And that obstruction implies fear. The fear of failure, of not reaching what I want to reach.

Luc


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sun Apr 27, 2008

Hi Luc,

In my opinion, will is nothing other than want or desire. Wanting to See is just fine, but Seeing is better. Wanting to See may be important in the beginning, but it adds nothing to Seeing itself. It is, as you say, a mere mental obstruction that takes one away from Seeing.

Jim


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