Thursday, November 24, 2005

tao teh ching 40

Returning is the motion of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.
The ten thousand things[1] are born of being.
Being is born of not being.

[1] The Ma wang tui text has only wu (things), not wan wu (the ten thousand things).

Wang says: Nobility has humility as its foundation, and loftiness has lowliness as its root. What exists becomes useful by taking advantage of what does not exist. This is what is meant here by 'reversion'. As for action, if one always understands its state of nothingness, all things will go smoothly(*)...

(*) I have reinterpreted this sentence more or less following Richard Lynn.

Because its softness and pliancy embrace all things equally, its capacity is infinite.
All things under heaven achieve life because of existence, but the origin of existence has nothingness at its root. If oner would have things achieve their full existence, one must allow them to revert to nothingness.

Cheng says: Describing the greatness of the Tao, chapter 25 says: 'great' can be described as going ever onward. 'Going ever onward' can be described as going far. 'Going far' can be described as returning. That which does not return is worn out, finished. Cyclical return gives the Tao its motion. The feminine principle (yin) is the focus of reference for heaven, softness is the reference point for earth, the mother and infant form the reference for mankind, water is the reference in nature. Each has connection with the function of the Tao. The first chapter states, 'That which has no name is the origin of heaven and earth; that which has a name is the mother of all things'. Both 'the mother of all things' and 'the origin of heaven and earth' result from ch'i attaining Oneness the same way 'the heavens attained Oneness and became clear; the earth attained Oneness and settled'. This illustrates 'unity gives birth to duality'. When 'heaven and earth merge in harmony and a sweet dew rains down', nature reproduces and 'duality gives birth to trinity, and trinity gives birth to all things'. Therefore 'something is born of nothing'.

This refers back to my commentaries on chapters 25 and 28 and their accompanying diagrams (q.v.), the ideas contained in these being - of course - at the very root of all of traditional Chinese science, yoga and alchemy.
The point being emphasised here is that if one does not have perfect confidence in ultimate non-being, the very nature of the Tao, already skewed by dualism and its multiplications, everything else one builds is destined to fail. Even 'meditation' and 'enlightenment' are simply paths of delusion
Where, however, such confidence does exist, everything that arises from it naturally works out in perfect harmony. Whatever arises is sustenance for naked awareness–emptiness, all fluctuation of happiness, sorrow and all possible mental ups and downs is simply the creativity of the sovereign dimension of the absolutely real, is spontaneously self–purified and leaves no karmic trace.
Things - the arisings - do not change as such, but the opening out of one's attitude allows them free play without leading them off into dead-end 'ends-in-view'. As Dza Pältrül Rinpoche says:

The mode of arising is the same as before
But there is an immense and crucial difference in the mode of liberation.

Knowing this is the dimension of absolute reality, far beyond all contrived 'meditation'.

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