Posted: Fri Nov 02, 2007
from The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu by Brian Browne Walker, 1995
Filling to fullness is not as good as stopping at the right moment.
Oversharpening a blade causes its edge to be lost.
Line your home with treasures and you won't be able to defend it.
Amass possessions, establish positions, display your pride:
Soon enough disaster drives you to your knees.
This is the way of heaven: do your work, then quietly step back.
from Dao De Jing by Moss Roberts, 2001
Desist before the vessel overruns.
Honed too sharp no blade retains its edge.
Treasure-filled no room remains secure.
Pride in wealth and place yields retribution.
€Tasks complete, doers retreat€:
Such is heaven€s way.
from Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching by Timothy Freke, 1995
Fill a bowl to the brim and it will spill.
Make a blade too sharp and it will soon blunt.
Amass too much wealth and you will never protect it.
Too much success breeds arrogance,
and arrogance brings a downfall.
When enough has been done € time to stop!
This is Heaven's Way.
Posted: Fri Nov 02, 2007
We fill and hone the outer world and line it with treasures. We establish our position in the world, while we ignore its position in us. Time to stop! Do your work, then quietly step back to the near side, to the center, to your true position, to the Tao. Otherwise you invite disaster, retribution, and a downfall.
That's my paraphrase using the words of these three translations.
Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2007
I love this verse: freedom from "trying"....
Resting from "do-ing" things happen almost of their own accord (I've just finished a giant washing up session;-))
Watching the hands - such effortless precision, they know just how hard to touch the keyboard - no stress, no conflict, no sweat!
It is all so immediate!
Happy weekend, one and all
Posted: Mon Nov 05, 2007
Isn't it wonderful how the hands wash themselves€or wash the dishes? I don't have to wash them. I don't have to make an effort to live my life. It lives me. There is no "I" in control of things. This fits so perfectly with Douglas's "See, and see what happens." We don't make things happen. We watch them happen. Life's total presence is my total absence, to paraphrase Douglas. I don't have to be awake. I am awakeness itself.
Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2007
to me, this verse is just a reminder of taking care, without forcing, or any desired outcome.
its just seeing that things are done. chores and whatnot continually appear. for me, i notice a meditation of sorts. just allowing thoughts to pass while watching these hands effortlessly. the experience is joyous in itself. sometimes i catch myself being happy for no reason that i know of.
its enough, just caring for whats being done before me.
Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 8:13 pm
I like the last line, in the two first translations anyway. You do something and then you step back.
Things happen and I see them happen and know that they are not my doing. Why then would I wait for any credit, or gratitude, or congragulations after the task is completed ? The joy is in seeing things happen, in the flow of life.
Who is to thank for that ?
What puzzles me in this type of verse is the link between the first part - they sound like examples, from nature or from social life - and the second part - what the Sage does, Heaven's way. Seen from the Headless state, it is natural to act and then to step back. But the examples seem to imply that if you behave otherwise, this will bring trouble or unhappiness. It might, but it is in my view not a reason to follow Heaven's way. The examples refer to the middle path : no exagerations or extremes. But how does this link to 'do your work, then quietly step back' ?
Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2007
I think the link is that both the first part (examples) and the second part of this verse are saying that we can work something to death. We can keep sharpening a blade until it is so thin (refined) that it loses all it's strength. I agree that it's natural to do your work and stop when it's complete. But it's also beneficial to do so, not to go too far. Enough is enough. There comes a time of diminishing returns or even a downfall.
I like the line that pride in place yields retribution. Our headless place can't lead to pride. It's what we share with everyone. There's nothing here to distinguish us from anyone else. Pride in place is pride in pure accident, in what we've been given. It's bogus. Well, that's how I read it.
Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2007
Dear Janet & Jim & Luc & All,
Yes, this "I" less watching is very interesting, isn't it?
While there is not a 'do-er' there is a care or 'unsticky love' that includes everything...
And the joy that arises for "no reason"...
except (perhaps) that THAT is our real nature, (or the nature of the Tao, to use the language of this group).
As Patanjali said, and George Harrison chose for his final song:
The Soul does not love
- it is love itself,
It does not exist, it is existance itself,
It does not know, it is knowledge itself...
Watching these hands as they "work" without effort but with care reminds me of the old direction "The care of Man is the grace of God"
Certainly, the expression "heaven's way" sounds right!
Anyway, love to all
Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2007
Yes, the last line sums it up beautifully.
Perhaps the link with the examples in the beginning is that perfection (or perfectionism) is antithetical to the way. It's connected with his spiral view of movement: trying to perfect what is already completed means moving in a straight line towards an imagined, selfish goal. It leads to misfortune. Stopping in time (as you have all shown) deflects one from this straight line and puts one back on course with the way.
I think the logic sometimes puzzles us because of the way we distinguish between reflection and action. But the verses are all about movement and flow. So withdrawing and retiring doesn't mean giving up; it means moving aside in another direction - like water.
Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:47 pm
hi jerry, luc, jim, and simon,
wonderful posts. to me, its the same process in view, but many ways to express it, as shown by the posts.
the question luc left dangling in his post, jerry picked up answering in the last sentence of his post. it seemed that way for me, anyhow.
enjoying it all.