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Verse Thirty One


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri May 02, 2008

Verse Thirty One
Witter Bynner, 1944

Even the finest arms are an instrument of evil,
A spread of plague,
And the way for a vital man to go is not the way of a soldier.
But in time of war men civilized in peace
Turn from their higher to their lower nature.
Arms are an instrument of evil,
No measure for thoughtful men
Until there fail all other choice
But sad acceptance of it.
Triumph is not beautiful.
He who thinks triumph beautiful
Is one with a will to kill,
And one with a will to kill
Shall never prevail upon the world.
It is a good sign when man's higher nature comes forward,
A bad sign when his lower nature comes forward,
When retainers take charge
And the master stays back
As in the conduct of a funeral.
The death of a multitude is cause for mourning:
Conduct your triumph as a funeral.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri May 02, 2008

"Conduct your triumph as a funeral."

There's no joy in putting other people down. Joy comes from putting myself down, down to the lowest spot in existence, to the place where I am in receipt of all that is on offer. In this sense, my "lower" nature becomes my "higher" nature. Lao Tzu (in a later verse) uses the metaphor of rivers flowing to the ocean. The ocean, by lying low, absorbs the rivers. It is like "the master" who "stays back" in this verse. Stay back. Keep low. Stay (consciously) centered.

Of course, all this applies in a collective and political sense as well. I don't know if this is anything we want to talk about here. I imagine most of us would share similar political perspectives, and would share the attitudes about war expressed in this and the previous verse. There must be ways in which our Seeing informs our political attitudes.

"A bad sign when his lower nature comes forward,
When retainers take charge
And the master stays back."

Who are the retainers? Who is the master? This is the same metaphor as the rivers and the ocean. It's a bad sign when master, the ocean, the center is ignored.

Sometimes people read many of Lao Tzu's verses as only political, but isn't there an inner politics that can be applied on a personal (first-personal) level as well? Neither level should be overlooked.

Jim


From: simon
Posted: Mon May 05, 2008

The term " a vital man " is very expressive, isn't it?

There is that experiment that uses coloured dots put on each participants forehead, which cannot be seen by the wearers....
You know it?
Your idea, Jim,
Quote:There must be ways in which our Seeing informs our political attitudes.
brought it to mind. (If you don't know this one I'll post it - I don't want to anticipate what you might make of it - look for yourself!)

I love the description:
Quote:
There's no joy in putting other people down. Joy comes from putting myself down, down to the lowest spot in existence, to the place where I am in receipt of all that is on offer.

Exactly like that here, too
Best to all
Simon


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Mon May 05, 2008

Hi Simon,

Yes, I have done that experiment. I believe it was called The Unclassified. I hadn't thought of it as political, but I can see now that it is. It takes many people to perform the experiment, and it takes logic and cooperation to sort out the color groups. This verse uses the word triumph. It seems to me that there must be two kinds of triumph. One is the triumph that happens from solving problems through cooperation. The other is prevailing over others. There are two kinds of games we can play. One is cooperative; the other is competitive. Only one brings positive results. Winning over others invites payback.

Best always,
Jim


From: simon
Posted: Tue May 06, 2008

Hi Jim and All,
Ah, the "Unclassified"! Good name for it, thank you. Curious experiment, should be taught in all schools if I had my wish!

There is - at first glance - a strange sentence in this verse:
Quote:
He who thinks triumph beautiful
Is one with a will to kill,
And one with a will to kill
Shall never prevail upon the world.

The newspapers affirm the opposite, and governments too seem to think that killing is at least a required response.
Yet this line carries a truth : I can't yet put it into words, it feels like the force of life "Vs" personal desire...
The Capacity that does not choose or judge what arises in it, yet actively Seeing allows different things to manifest than confrontation... Perhaps, "for humanity to live in society some rules are necessary" becomes true when Seeing is forgotten....
Anyway, Thank God there is no war where I am. Others are not so lucky.

Best to All
Simon


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Wed May 07, 2008

Hi Simon,

I think the name of the experiment may be The Unclassifiable. Richard could tell us the name.

"One with a will to kill shall never prevail upon the world."

You say that "governments too seem to think that killing is at least a required response." The government here in the US certainly thinks that. But the majority of the people are tired of it. So the present government may not prevail in the next election. Maybe the will to kill does not prevail, but it sure does come back again and again. People forget how horrible wars are. Some people are always spoiling for a fight. War then peace then war then peace. How to break the cycle? All I know is to reclaim the place within where there is no war or opposition - and to point others to that place as much as they will allow.

Jim


From: simon
Posted: Fri May 09, 2008

Hi Jim and All,

Yes, turning the attention and sharing that is the only way I have found to escape from "the law of opposites" (re-actions to situations that tend to worsen the problem)

It occurs to me that not to "See for one's self" is to live in ignorance - and actions conceived in ignorance have little chance of meeting the need...

You say
Quote:
and to point others to that place as much as they will allow.

This is a keen point: "allowing the Capacity" speaks clearly to me !

Allowing ! is there anything else required?

Simon


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