Chapter of the Week: #24

Re speaking ill of music, I think that if music is used to escape reality then it can be said to be decreasing awareness and if we want to wake up, music used that way puts us to sleep. But it's all relative: if music calms the savage beast that's "good" when you have savage beasts running around. On the other hand, if it's your savage beast, the best thing is to face it head on and see what it's all about rather than calming it down from outside.

I'm starting to go in circles here.


  • edited August 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 24
    He who tiptoes cannot stand;
    He who strides cannot walk.

    He who shows himself is not conspicuous;
    He who considers himself right is not illustrious;
    He who brags will have no merit;
    He who boasts will not endure.

    From the point of view of the way these are 'excessive food and useless
    excrescences'. As there are Things that detest them, he who has the way does
    not abide in them.

    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.]

    'He who brags will have no merit' - and so on - puts the 'cart before the horse', as I experience it anyway. Only when I lack feeling a sense of original merit do I brag. Not out of choice, but out of emotional necessity. I'm just struggling to compensate for, well, basically [chref=5]the void[/chref] that I sense within. I now avoid much of this futile run around by simply [chref=61]taking the lower position[/chref]. Why does it take so long to sink low enough? Instinct fights 'me' every step of the way. Fortunately there is a lot of truth to the old adage 'it takes two to fight', even when the battle is between 'me, myself and I'. Note: my final translation puts the 'horse before the cart', unequivocally. The issue boils down to this: would there be a horse even if there was not cart? Would there be a cart even if there was nothing to pull it? Yes and no respectively. Yet the cart often takes center stage in our consciousness. We are drawn to the 'cause and then effect' point of view, rather than to the 'effect and then cause' viewpoint. Nevertheless, every 'effect' is a 'cause'; every 'cause' is an 'effect'. Enough of this nonsense. On to the translations.... ;)

    The literal translation... where's the horse?
    tiptoe (look forward to) not stand (exist, live);
    stride not go (be current, prevail).
    self see not bright (honest, know);
    self praise not manifest (clear, evident; conspicuous).
    self attack without meritorious service (merit, achievement);
    self pity not long (long duration, steadily, forte).
    its here way also say (call, name):
    surplus food superfluous (redundant) form (entity).
    thing (external matter) someone dislike,
    therefore have way not dwell.

    Now where's the horse?
    What we look forward to, does not exist;
    What we chase after, will not exist.
    When seeing our self, we can not be honest;
    In self praise, we are not self-evident;
    In self attack, we achieve nothing;
    In self pity, we are not steady;
    The way from here views these as superfluous things.
    People bicker and fret over such things,
    Therefore one who has the way does not dwell in them.

    Finally, the horse is clearly in front:
    What we look forward to, does not exist;
    What we chase after, will not exist.
    In lacking honesty we see self;
    In lacking significance we praise self;
    In lacking merit we attack self;
    In lacking steadiness we pity self;
    The way from here views these as superfluous.
    People fret over such things,
    Therefore one who has the way does not dwell in them.
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