Dao De Jing
Headless on Youtube
Click here for workshops with Richard Lang
Click here for details on the American Gathering


Click here for information on online hangouts
Click here fora free e-course
The Youniverse Explorer is now available
Click here for our online shop
Click here to get the free Headless iPhone app
Click here for downloadable videos of Douglas Harding
Click here for the Latest News
Click here to Donate

Verse Forty Two


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sun Aug 03, 2008

Verse Forty Two
Wing-Tsit Chan, 1963

Tao produced the One.
The One produced the two.
The two produced the three.
And the three produced the ten thousand things.
The ten thousand things carry the yin and embrace the yang,
and through the blending of the material force they achieve harmony.
People hate to be children without parents, lonely people without spouses, or men without food to eat,
And yet kings and lords call themselves by these names.
Therefore it is often the case that things gain by losing and lose by gaining.
What others have taught, I teach also: "Violent and fierce people do not die a natural death."
I shall make this the father of my teaching.

Verse Forty Two
George Cronk, 1999

Out of Tao, One.
Out of One, Two.
Out of Two, Three.
Out of Three, all things.
All things carry Yin and face Yang.
Out of the union of Yin and Yang, harmony.
No one wants to be "orphaned," " widowed," or "unworthy."
But kings and princes use these words as titles for themselves.
You win by losing. You lose by winning.
It has been said, and I agree, "A violent man dies violently."

Verse Forty Two
Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English, 1972

The Tao begot one.
One begot two.
Two begot three.
And three begot the ten thousand things.
The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang.
They achieve harmony by combining these forces.

Men hate to be "orphaned," "widowed," or "worthless,"
But this is how kings and lords describe themselves.

For one gains by losing
And loses by gaining.

What others teach, I also teach; that is:
"A violent man will die a violent death!"
This will be the essence of my teaching.

Verse Forty Two
David Hinton

Way gave birth to one,
and one gave birth to two.
Two gave birth to three,
and three gave birth to the ten thousand things.
Then the ten thousand things shouldered yin and embraced yang,
blending ch'i to establish harmony.
People all hate scraping by orphaned, destitute, ill-fated, but true dukes and emperors call themselves just that.
Some things gain by loss, and some lose by gain.
I only teach
what the people teach:
Tyranny and force never come to a natural end.
I've taken the people as my schoolmaster.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sun Aug 03, 2008

Is this an important verse? I think it contains the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Here's an experiment:

Copy the line below and enter it into Google.

the answer to life, the universe, and everything

It seems they agree!

Here's a different position:

Verse Forty Two
Ron Hogan, ~2000

Chapter 42 starts out
with some cosmic mumbo-jumbo
about Tao making one,
one making two,
two making three,
and three making everything else.

I don't know what it means,
and, frankly,
I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Let's get to the practical part:
Men hate to be called
powerless, insignificant, or unworthy,
but that's how
Masters describe themselves.

Because when we lose, we've won.
And when we succeed, we've failed.

Other people will tell you
what I'm telling you now:
"Live by the sword, die by the sword."
That's pretty much what Chapter 42
boils down to.

More to come (especially about the cosmic mumbo-jumbo),
Jim


From: simon
Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008

Yes, this is an interesting verse!
Not sure that
Quote:
the first starts out
with some cosmic mumbo-jumbo
about Tao making one,
one making two,
two making three,
and three making everything else.

That it is not instantly recognisable in an 'everyday' state of mind does not necessarily mean it is meaningless, does it?
I wonder if there is not a link here to verse 25? the "shady nothingness..."
What do you all make of it?
The "mechanics" of how creation happens is quite strange, seems to require a certain awakeness as it happens very fast!

Over to you!
Simon


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008

Hi Simon and All,

I see a link to verse 25 too. Both seem to be talking about creation, but I like to see them as talking about design, as in the Grand Design that Douglas talked and wrote about.

The words yin and yang occur only in this verse. These refer to the complementary opposites we talked about in the first verses. On the most basic level, yin is the receptive and yang the active. Yin is the container and yang the contents. Yin is the near side of the Tube (of awareness) and yang the far side. The finger points in to yin and out to yang. These most generic of terms could be applied to all the experiments. And here's the clincher: This verse says (in some translations) that yin is on my shoulders, and yang is in my arms. Yin is on my shoulders€just where I long imagined I had a head. Yin is my first person experience of what's right here at my center.

This verse gets the description right€receptive yin and active yang. It also gets the location right. Yin is on my shoulders, at my back. I carry yin and embrace or face yang.

There's a famous quote from Chuang Tzu: One Yin, one Yang; this is Tao. Here's a haiku I wrote based on this design.

Just what is the Tao?
It is yin on my shoulders
And yang in my arms.

Here's another quick verse base on this verse and on the experiments.

Look in and see the yin.
Look out and see the yang.
Look in and out and see the Tao,
And now you see the whole shebang.

This verse contains an experiment that points to the two sides and then goes on to say that the two sides (or forces) blend to achieve harmony. Yang in my arms? Isn't this the experiment where I spread my arms 160 degrees to embrace the world? Yin on my shoulders? Yin is capacity, receptivity€in other words aware space. And the two blend to make a harmonious whole. As Simon recently pit it: each is the other. There's no boundary to be discovered, only a wholeness, a single presence. And this presence is the Tao.

Ron Hogan says that Chapter 42 starts out with some cosmic mumbo-jumbo about Tao making one, one making two, two making three, and three making everything else. It seems clear to me that these three numbers refer to Tao and to yin and yang. And I take them in a design or architectural sense. One is the Tao, the single presence that I am, that we all are. It is life itself. Two is the yin and yang of the experiments€on my shoulders and in my arms. And three is the wholeness, balance, harmony and satisfaction that comes from seeing this design. Three is also the first number with a center€Tao at the center of yin and yang. Tao is both a singularity (one) and a totality (the whole shebang of yin and yang). Three is the triune design of awareness or presence or life.

This is a lot like Douglas's maps. It's an attempt to plot the design of awareness. Many of those maps show the "yang in my arms" side of the equation specifically with a drawing of outstretched arms embracing the world. You can find them right on this website. They also show the "yin at my back" aspect. And together they show the totality and wholeness, as well as the singularity, of the design. The maps show the triune design of sentient life. The numbers of verse 42 do the same thing. One represents the singular presence that is our life. Two represents the two aspects€the near side of yin and the far side of yang. Three represents the triune totality with Tao, life itself, at the center.

Douglas was an architect. He discovered the Grand Design. He drew a blueprint, many in fact. You see them in every book he published. I think the Tao Te Ching is doing the same thing. It isn't so much talking about origins and creation. It's talking about the design of the present moment. In a sense, the past is with us right now in everything we see, everything "in our embrace." And the future is with us too. It's in the unseen potential "on our shoulders." It's within each of us. Time is part of the Grand Design too. It's not a separate matter. It's on show too.

Many commentators say that this verse is connected to verse 40, which talks about this same two-way looking, not in terms of yin and yang, but of the seen (yu) and the unseen (wu). Not all interpreters translate these words as seen and unseen, but many do, and they sure make a good fit with headless seeing. Yin is obviously unseen (seen as an absence) while yang is seen. This ties it altogether for me. And, just to go back to the numbers of verse 42, this triune design makes possible the life of the 10,000 things in all its variety and beauty.

Cosmic mumbo-jumbo? I don't think so. But I can see how people unfamiliar with the experiments would laugh at all of this. If they didn't laugh, it wouldn't be the Tao, as verse 41 tells it.

All for now,
Jim


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008

Another triad that is mentioned (more than once) in the Tao Te Ching is that of Heaven, Man, and Earth. These three aren't meant to be taken literally as the sky above, the mud below. They refer to the unseen yin (heaven) and the visible yang (earth) with mankind (and all sentient beings) in between. That's my view of the matter.

Douglas uses the same terms in many of his articles. And consider The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth. The Tao Te Ching also uses the terms this and that, which Douglas specifically mentions in The Religions of Man.

Language is rich in terms for this basic pattern the experiments reveal!

Jim


From: simon
Posted: Tue Aug 05, 2008

Hi Jim and All,
Yes, this really is a rich verse: I like the view of
Quote:
receptive yin and active yang. It also gets the location right. Yin is on my shoulders, at my back. I carry yin and embrace or face yang.

And while awaiting any "revelation" about the "one, two & three", there are some beautiful descriptions of the "big One"
Quote:
People hate to be children without parents, lonely people without spouses, or men without food to eat,

Quote:
No one wants to be "orphaned," " widowed," or "unworthy."

Yet, as open space or capacity where is the second, the parent or partner, the pride or confidence in a separate identity? No-thing to hang adjectives on!
The first thought that appeared about this "1. 2. 3" has another slant - I share it out of interest rather than an 'alternative'...
There is "that shady nothingness" out of which appears a feeling of existence - call it "I AM" if you will - and the three (a throwback from my Vedic days?) recalls the three Guna or forces -like strands of a rope - of clarity, creation/action and decay or sleep, which I see in action all around... all "creation" is ruled by these three...
Now I am not promoting this as "a final version" - just a suspicion that words, loaded as they are with all their associations, are no match for the unnameable!
There has always been (in my experience) a great simplicity in all these verses - the sort of simplicity that comes from stepping back and taking in the whole view...
Still, I am waiting for the penny to drop!
I enjoy the
Quote:
Just what is the Tao?
It is yin on my shoulders
And yang in my arms.

This shares the feeling of love for all that accompanies seeing here.
What do others find?
Simon


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Tue Aug 05, 2008

Hi Simon,

I like what you say about the second half of the verse containing beautiful descriptions of the big one.

I'm not familiar with the three Guna, but I don't see why they wouldn't be associated with the Three of this verse. I'm not promoting my view of this verse as "final" either. I just like the way it seems to fit so perfectly with the experience and the maps.

I know what I am saying is too detailed and analytical. That's not the spirit of the Tao Te Ching. I like reading my favorite versions of the TTC in one leisurely sitting. That way the flavor of the work comes through beyond the words. Still, this verse seems so obscure with its numbers that I find it useful (if not poetic) to have an idea of what the numbers mean. I think the first part of this verse really all boils down to that haiku:

Just what is the Tao?
It is yin on my shoulders
And yang in my arms.

There's no map here and no numbers, just an implied experiment, a hint that the Tao is in plain sight.

Jim


From: simon
Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2008

Hi Jim & All,
Yes, the
Quote:
It is yin on my shoulders
And yang in my arms.

is a nice, effortless way to be. This was much in mind yesterday - when a curious event happened.
Driving my tractor to mow the paths (grass and brambles almost a metre high) I noticed that recent storms had broken quite a few trees. As the front wheel rolled over one, it twisted the tree up and - like some medieval knight - I was about to be speared by two other branches. No time to panic, the right arm pushed against the branch - I wasn't moving, nor the tractor - just the branch (but I wouldn't put it that way to everyone!) - and it broke. Nice of it to give way, otherwise I would have been speared in the stomach! This branch is at least 4 inches diameter... I am pretty sure i couldn't do that if I tried!
Headless attention is not a luxury. The force of the body cannot be measured just by the muscle power.
The fact that there is mystery is no reason to be vague or lost, either: perhaps mysteries are to be enjoyed?!

As regards "too detailed", I share the same reservation, and I have a great respect for this work: not a verse is superfluous and there is a desire to understand all of them. Yet they all (seem to) point to simplicity, not complication...
Anyway, great fun this voyage through time (2400 years ago?) to the present!

Simon


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2008

In the interest of simplicity and brevity, here's a haiku version of this verse.

Just what is the Dao?
It is yin on my shoulders
And yang in my arms.

Orphaned, abandoned,
Lonely and impoverished,
This too is the Dao.

And so I teach that
Those who live by violence
Die by violence.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2008

For one gains by losing
And loses by gaining.

This is usually interpreted to mean that gaining power or possessions or reputation goes along with the need to protect them, to save face.

Lose face and gain the world! Gain face and lose the truth.

Jim


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2008

I'm posting this here because it talks about Manifest Tao and Unmanifest Tao in terms of Yin and Yang. It seems to belong to this verse that mentions yin and yang, though it relates to other verses too, especially the first one. This verse suggests that Unmanifest Tao is on my shoulders, and Manifest Tao is in my arms. The experiments prove it.

Jim

Diane Morgan / p 25 / Magical Tarot, Mystical Tao / 2003

Since Taoism understands the world as a duality, in Yin and Yang, it shouldn€t come as a surprise that we can think about the Tao in two different ways€a Yang way and a Yin way. The Yang Tao is the Manifest Tao, the Tao-that-can-be-spoken. It characterizes the whole world of becoming. Day and night, male and female, sun and moon are all features of the Manifest Tao, the visible, pulsating, ever-changing, glorious, miraculous world we live in.

But there€s another, deeper Tao. This is the Unmanifest Tao, the deep Yin Tao beneath what we see and know, the Tao-that-cannot-be-spoken. The distinction between the Manifest and the Unmanifest Tao is so crucial that it comprises the very first chapter of the Tao Te Ching€

All religions yearn toward the Supreme. € Taoism, on the other hand, understands Being-ness itself, a Supreme Being-ness that pervades the cosmos, and in which all Beings partake. It is no a place, state, god, or condition. It can€t be reached by effort or handed out by grace. It is the essential/existential quality of the cosmos itself. In its essential, original state, it is the Unmanifest Tao, unitary, hidden, holy. In its existential, created condition, it is the Manifest Tao, the insinuated Yin and Yang.

The Unmanifest Tao is eternal. It isn€t part of Time. Time is a process of individuation, the separating out of one instant from another, of naming and characterizing each particular moment. This is a feature of the manifest world, which proceeds instant by instant like a flowing river, symbol of the Manifest Tao. It declares itself, however, within the smallest flower and the largest galaxy. €

The Unmanifest Tao is limitless. It knows no boundary; it takes up no space. It is indeed €darkness within darkness.€ The Unmanifest Tao holds the Manifest Tao as the empty bowl holds the water, and the darkness makes possible the light.

The Unmanifest Tao is nameless, and can be best indicated only by negatives such as €un-manifest,€ un-knowable,€ and €time-less.€ Names are limitations. By calling something €blue,€ one excludes €red€ and €yellow.€ The ultimate must be forever beyond names. The Manifest Tao takes on all the names and qualities of the universe: great and small, dark and light, bliss and sorrow.

The Unmanifest Tao is Being-ness without Being. If it were Being itself, it would be Manifest. If it were non-Being, it could not be made manifest. It is Being-ness without Being and without non-Being, but bearing the potentiality of all.

The Unmanifest Tao is Yin; the Manifest Tao is Yang. The Unmanifest Tao is potential; the Manifest Tao is power. One proceeds from the other as a child proceeds from its mother. Yang is part of Yin, and Yin is part of Yang. The Unmanifest Tao gives birth to the Manifest, or what we call €Nature.€


From: ja_juan
Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009

what a mystical verse!

the only thing that comes to mind is:
1)void/nothing
2)world/something
3)life/perception

The void (1) created the big bang and the universe (2), the elements of nature, organic and inorganic produced life forms (3).
This probably agrees with the story science is talking about.

People (the three) hate to admit their "void nature" (the one) as a lonely one, without possesions, relatives etc, but this is true kingdom.

So, to enter true kingdom, you have to lose from the material world and admit/recognise the void world (1).

If you're living to win in the living world (3), you're actually losing in the grand scheme. Your fall will "hurt".

Too much of a simplistic explanation, I know... but that's what came to mind .


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009

Hi Juan,

The one-two-three of this verse leaves open a lot of possibilities. Yours is certainly a nice progression, and it fits with headless seeing.


I don't know how well my math works, but one way I think of it is Dao=1, Yin/Yang=2, and Dao/Yin/Yang=3. Yin=the headless space. Yang=the world in my embrace. Dao=the inseparable presence of the two. It's just a shorthand reminder of the design of perception. It's just something that works for me.

I'm glad you commented on this verse. It's one of my favorites. I like your interpretation of the 1-2-3 as a historical progression and the progression of an individual life as it unfolds. You've given me another way to look at this verse. It certainly fits Douglas's view of how we grow up to adulthood (stage 3) only after we grow down in adolescence (stage 2). We have to go through the second stage to really grow up. We can't remain infants (stage 1) all our lives. We have to join the 'human club' before we can recover our original spacious natures.

Thanks for keeping the discussion going,
Jim


From: ja_juan

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009

Jim, your explanation makes sense.
I have always been wondering about the "tao" and its relationship with yin/yang.
Thanks!
Giannis


From: ja_juan
Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2009

How about that?
It could fit headlessness that way:

The one= the "void"
The two= the image of "other", also our image, the face others see as us
The three= the "mirror", our delusion of a self image
The ten thousand things= the world

(it sounds like our history)


Headless on Youtube
Click here for workshops with Richard Lang
Click here for details on the American Gathering


Click here for information on online hangouts
Click here fora free e-course
The Youniverse Explorer is now available
Click here for our online shop
Click here to get the free Headless iPhone app
Click here for downloadable videos of Douglas Harding
Click here for the Latest News
Click here to Donate