Dao De Jing
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Verse Fifty Seven


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Wed Dec 17, 2008

Verse Fifty Seven
Witter Bynner, 1944

A realm is governed by ordinary acts,
A battle is governed by extraordinary acts;
The world is governed by no acts at all.
And how do I know?
This is how I know.
Act after act prohibits
Everything but poverty,
Weapon after weapon conquers
Everything but chaos,
Business after business provides
A craze of waste,
Law after law breeds
A multitude of thieves.
Therefore a sensible man says:
If I keep from meddling with people, they take care of themselves,
If I keep from commanding people, they behave themselves,
If I keep from preaching at people, they improve themselves,
If I keep from imposing on people, they become themselves.

Verse Fifty Seven
Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English, 1972

Rule a nation with justice.
Wage war with surprise moves.
Become master of the universe without striving.
How do I know that this is so?
Because of this!
The more laws and restrictions there are,
The poorer people become.
The sharper men's weapons,
The more trouble in the land.
The more ingenious and clever men are,
The more strange things happen.
The more rules and regulations,
The more thieves and robbers.

Therefore the sage says:
I take no action and people are reformed.
I enjoy peace and people become honest.
I do nothing and people become rich.
I have no desires and people return to the good and simple life.


From: Janet
Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2008

without effort,
its design is perfection!

love,
janet


From: simon
Posted: Sun Dec 21, 2008

Yes, quite so!

I rather like this verse, sort of "Seeing in action"...
That the view "in" so to speak, is still perfectly true - well, that is understandable... That the view "out" is true today, as it doubtless was when written 2500 odd years ago, well that is curious... Where is all the "progress" I keep hearing about?

The last 4 lines could sound too good to be true.
But the "tree of life" experiment does hint that it is just so...
A new reading of the old adege "Absence makes the heart grow fonder"??
The "absence" of somebody 'here' does make a difference, to all concerned.

Today all the family is preparing to celebrate the Solstice, the changing of the Year. I just heard that the word "Noel" comes from 'new sol' = new sun.... it might even be true... Anyone know?
Anyway,
Happy New Year, One and All!


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Mon Dec 22, 2008

Act after act prohibits
Everything but poverty,
Weapon after weapon conquers
Everything but chaos,
Business after business provides
A craze of waste,
Law after law breeds
A multitude of thieves.

I read the Tao Te Ching as taking a non-directive approach to life. Mind your own business and things go well. Mind other people's business and the result is conflict, chaos, poverty, waste, and thievery. Mind as emptiness is certainly non-directive. It accepts rather than directs.

If I keep from meddling with people, they take care of themselves,
If I keep from commanding people, they behave themselves,
If I keep from preaching at people, they improve themselves,
If I keep from imposing on people, they become themselves.

Effort and meddling, commanding and preaching always backfire. They're always resisted.

As Janet says, "without effort, its design is perfection!" What is HERE to exert effort? Effort is illusory action by an ego. Without-effort is the way it is. That's my reading anyway.

Simon says "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." That sure fits! It reminds me of the experiment where we spread our arms 160 degrees to embrace the world. There's always a feeling of love, acceptance, and fondness that goes with this gesture. It's automatic. And there's nothing directive about it.

Just a few thoughts,
Jim


From: ja_juan
Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2009

I was trying to do a meditation of "doing nothing".
It soon became obvious that even while trying to do nothing you are still doing something.

Then I relaxed into headlessness, the disolver of thoughts, feelings and sensations, and I was doing nothing. It is mysterious and deep and never seen, this headless space, and the world floats inside it.

I realized that I was doing nothing all along the way.
I never had done anything. But things were happening, as I myself was happening.

My heart beats, my will and desires are created, my world produces sounds, my clouds are blocking my light...

We are doing nothing. It's just that things are done mysteriously, we are being done too.

So, this verse of the Tao te ching makes sense.
The world is happening, including us.
If you "keep trying" instead of being space for happening, you probably are putting unnecessary burden on your shoulders.
Being against your nature is unhappiness, and trying is against our nature.

It is in the nature of a plant to grow and follow the sunlight.
If you are doing tricks to make it grow according to your preferences... you're rather blocking the "plant wave" from taking its course.
But of course from a bigger perspective, still there is not a problem at all... but that's for another verse...

Last edited by ja_juan on Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:33 pm; edited 1 time in total


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Wed Sep 23, 2009

Hi Juan,

"I realized that I was doing nothing all along the way. I never had done anything. But things were happening, as I myself was happening."

Nicely put! Life happens on its own. We don't have to make it happen, let alone try to make it happen. What a relief! Trying is, as you say, an "unnecessary burden."

Thanks for sharing your insights and for keeping the conversation going.

Jim


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