Chapter of the Week: #19

This is delightful! First,
[cite] TheNowSeeker:[/cite]... I would call the feeling i had 'peaceful.' Peaceful to 'zoom out' infinitely
Oh yes, it feels so peaceful when we have [chref=19]little thought of self[/chref] interest. And yes, being in the 'yin' column, death = peace. Boy, aren't you glad life is so short! :wink: Although, I've asked people if they'd like to live forever and many have said yes (maybe most, I can't recall). Oh how instinct [chref=65]hoodwinks[/chref] and rules.
[cite] TheNowSeeker:[/cite]... but we miss constant countless others in every moment we spend 'remembering.'
I've become a 'master' at non remembering. But, as we know, Nature abhors a vacuum, and so observations and their connections constantly pop into my mind. So much for [chref=5]holding fast to the void[/chref]. Nature won't allow it! :roll:
[cite] Lynn Cornish:[/cite]... latches on for dear life, compares everything else to what it "knows", then judges, agrees or disagrees. There's hardly any room to let a new idea in!
I don't "latch on", nor "judges" much anymore. Alas, my mind's space fills with "new ideas". I think the moral of this is we can't win happiness. Thus, '[chref=69]it is the one that is sorrow-stricken that wins[/chref]' applies to personal life as well. Whatever we feel would be to our advantage, once we have it, it ain't. The lower position, [chref=39]taking the inferior as root[/chref], is the only path that 'works'. Of course, that flies in the face of instinct. Now that's cosmic justice!

By the way, I happened upon an interesting site, Tea House 2.0, which I just joined and posted the Global Warming piece to see what mischief I could stir up :lol:. I just can't get over the 'internets' (as our illustrious president put it).


  • edited July 2007
    Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. The Tao Te Ching can be obscure, especially if you think you're supposed to understand what it's saying! We find it easier and more instructive to simply contemplate how the chapter resonates with your personal experience. Becoming more aware at this fundamental level simplifies life. This approach conforms to the view that true knowing lies within ourselves. Thus, when a passage in the scripture resonates, you've found your inner truth. The same applies for when it evokes a question; questions are the grist for self realization.

    Chapter 19
    Exterminate the sage, discard the wise,
    And the people will benefit a hundredfold;
    Exterminate benevolence, discard rectitude,
    And the people will again be filial;
    Exterminate ingenuity, discard profit,
    And there will be no more thieves and bandits.

    These three, being false adornments, are not enough
    And the people must have something to which they can attach themselves:
    Exhibit the unadorned and embrace the uncarved block,
    Have little thought of self and as few desires as possible.

    Read commentary previously posted for this chapter.
    Read notes on translations
  • edited December 1969
    [Note: I italicize phrases I borrow from the chapter, and link to phrases I borrow from other chapters to help tie chapters together. While making it more tedious to read, :? the Tao Te Ching is best pondered in the context of the whole.]

    Oh my how succinctly this chapter strikes at the root of the problems which civilization is eternally seeking to resolve. Of course, we never will because we love the root causes too much to let go. This is like cake and cavities. Though 'cake' causes our teeth to decays, we can't quit eating 'cake'. Dentistry give us a [chref=53]by-path[/chref] around that problem. And I'm sure science will soon give us a by-path around obesity, the other consequence of eating 'cake'. Alas, it is different for the three issues raised here.

    Indeed, we see these three as 'solutions' to our problems, not as causes, or symptoms of deeper causes. So, round and round we'll go... until hell freezes over I expect. :) Thus, the only thing I can truly do is exhibit the unadorned and embrace the uncarved block, have little thought of self and as few desires as possible. Only when I'm too 'lazy' or 'driven', do I take a partisan [chref=53]by-path[/chref] instead of [chref=16]returning to my roots[/chref]. I lose [chref=16]impartiality[/chref] and see the 'solution' to the 'problem' as being out there somewhere in someone or something else. :roll:

    The literal – the best I can do for now:
    extinct sage discard wisdom, people advantage 100 fold;
    extinct benevolence discard justice (relationships, artificial), people again mourning kind;
    extinct clever (artful, deceitful) discard advantage, thieves nothing have;
    this three, consider (think, believe) culture ( language, civil) not enough.
    hence cause have what is under your control, see plain (quiet, simple, native) embrace simple (plain)
    little personal (secret) few desires (longing; wish; want)

    Rearrange with some poetic license -- the best I can do for now:
    When the sage and wisdom are nonexistent, the people benefit greatly;
    When benevolence and justice are nonexistent, the people return to feeling mourning kindness;
    When cleverness and advantage are nonexistent, thieves have nothing to rob;
    When considering human culture, these three are not enough.
    Hence, see the simple, embrace the plain, and have few personal desires.

    Two things stand out a little differently in the literal than the usual translations tend to convey. (1) Benevolence and justice are our attempt 'fix' the innate mournful nature of life (i.e., the First Noble Truth is Suffering). I've notice that by letting go of benevolence and justice I am actually much more kind and compassionate. Now, benevolence and kindness may seem synonymous, and perhaps they are. It is the mourning undercurrent here that makes this kindness different. (2) These three 'causes' of our problem are so integral to human civilization, that there is no chance they will become nonexistent. Thus, all we can truly do is do [chref=40]Nothing [/chref] as well as possible until we do [chref=48]nothing at all[/chref]! Ha! Now we know why we [chref=20]alone are different from others[/chref].
  • I agree that the chapter names the three wide spread beliefs that are not at the root of our problems. The chapter does not endorses rejection of learning or rejection of benevolence or justice or cleverness or even rejection of wealth for itself.

    It simply says that the beliefs that the rejection of those helps anything are "incomplete", and not sufficient in themselves.

    Instead, it offers an alternative of identifying self with quiet simplicify and luck of desires.

    If anything, this chapter is about the pop culture and its incompleteness.

    Another way to look at it, this chapter is against meaningless manipulation of words at the expense of losing the core to which we belong.
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