Dao De Jing
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Verse Sixty Four


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2009

Verse Sixty Four
Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English, 1972

Peace is easily maintained;
Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
The brittle is easily shattered;
The small is easily scattered.
Deal with it before it happens.
Set things in order before there is confusion.

A tree as great as a man's embrace springs up from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one's feet.

He who acts defeats his own purpose;
He who grasps loses.
The sage does not act, and so is not defeated.
He does not grasp and therefore does not lose.

People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;
Then there will be no failure.

Therefore the sage seeks freedom from desire.
He does not collect precious things.
He learns not to hold on to ideas.
He brings men back to what they have lost.
He help the ten thousand things find their own nature,
But refrains from action.

Verse Sixty Four
Daodejingle

To keep the peace is easy
Before a problem stirs
Deal with it early
Before a fuss occurs

Be calm and conquer worries
Before they can proceed
The very largest tree begins
As just a tiny seed

A solitary step begins
A journey of a thousand miles
Brick by brick one starts to build
The grandest domiciles

All will happen as it will
You needn't interfere
See that nothing you can do
Induces discord to appear

Verse Sixty Four
Herrymon Maurer, 1985

What is at rest is easy to hold.
What hasn't happened is easy to forestall.
What is brittle is easy to break.
What is minute is easy to scatter.
Deal with a thing before it exists;
Handle disorder before it occurs.
A tree of a full span's girth
Springs from a tiny sprout
A nine-storey tower
Rises from a clod of earth.
A journey of a thousand miles
Starts from where your feet are.
Whoever acts spoils,
Whoever grasps loses.
The sage does nothing;
Therefore he spoils nothing.
He grasps nothing;
Therefore he loses nothing.
People often spoil things at the point of success:
Take it easy at the finish as well as the start;
Then nothing will be spoiled
Therefore the sage
Desires to be desireless,
Does not prize rare goods,
Learns to unlearn his learning,
Returns the people to what they have lost,
Helps all things find their nature,
But dares not do.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2009

Returns the people to what they have lost

What have we lost? The true vision of our clear inner nature. Seeing returns this to us, thereby making us whole, natural, and accepting of others. There's nothing more satisfying than this. (Well, almost nothing.) This is my favorite part of the verse. How about you?

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

This is no doubt the most widely known verse in the whole text. Much of the verse is making the same point. Begin with the simple and easy. If we want to be Seers, just look and then look again. It's always simple and easy. Soon enough it will be your customary way of Seeing. But you have to begin. The vision won't get better or fuller, but it will come to fill your life. It begins as a sprout and ends up a tree. Both sprout and tree are whole and complete, but a sprout doesn't become a tree unless it's nourished.

Other ideas?

Jim


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2009

Other ideas?

Well Jim the line " He learns not to hold onto ideas "

Seem to be pointing to an open alive mind.
Not fixed but boundless like headless awareness.

Charles Mullers translation of this line reads
" Studies the unlearnable "
which made sense in seeing terms- see and see what happens -
as there is no end to ever fresh seeing.

Steve


From: jimclatf
Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2009

Hi Steve,

" He learns not to hold onto ideas "

I like what you say about that line. Ideas fix and bind, close and limit. Headless awareness lets everything, including ideas about headless awareness, flow through it.

" Desires to be desireless "
" Therefore the sage seeks freedom from desire. "

I wonder about this one. Maybe it refers to desires that are not easily satisfied. The desire to get ahead (pun?) seems to know no limits. A physical desire like hunger goes away as soon as you have a meal. But we can mess up even simple physical desires like hunger. We can allow ourselves not to be satisfied with the meal itself€we need it to be prepared by a world-class cook. We all need shelter from the elements, but we've come to desire big houses decorated in the latest style. There's a TV program in the US called House Hunters. The home buyers look a three different houses, and the select one to purchase. As they tour the houses, comments like "This kitchen sure id outdated." and "This looks like it's right out of the eighties." are common. I think the "freedom from desires" refers to this kind of desire rather than all desires.

Headless seeing seems to satisfy a desire too€the desire for truth and wholeness. I keep saying that headless seeing brings satisfaction, but it's really more than that€sometimes it brings delight.

So it seems to me that it's only certain desires that are described in the Tao Te Ching as causing our troubles. I'm sure there are many desires that we should celebrate!

Jim


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2009

Hi Jim

We have a similar TV program in the UK !
It somehow seems unreal viewed next to world problems.Gaza etc.

Seeing how the forest monks in Thailand and the UK lived helped me with getting desire into perspective.
They live so basically and simply with much dignity.

I agree re: desire "some are to be celebrated"
Thomas Traherne the English mystic was positive about this.

The Buddha was positive that ignorant desire caused suffering.
These two views are like the two sides of a coin.

The open view and the closed view.
Maybe Lao Tzu would say " He learns/ sees not to hold onto ignorant desires and ideas "

Re: Delight
While doing the pointing experiment, at my face space, a smile grows in the space sometimes.....a minor but welcome delight that brightens the day.

Steve


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