Friday, December 16, 2005

tao teh ching 62

Tao is the source of the ten thousand things[1].
It is the treasure of the good man and the refuge of the bad[2].
Sweet words can buy honour[3];
Good deeds can gain respect[4].
If a man is bad, do not abandon him.
Therefore on the day the emperor is crowned,
Or the three officers of state installed,
Do not send a gift of jade and a team of four horses,
But remain still and offer the Tao.
Why does everyone like the Tao so much at first?[5]
Isn't it because you find what you seek and are forgiven your sins?
Therefore this is the greatest treasure in the universe.

[1] Lau says it is their refuge, the Ma wang tui text that it is that toward which they all flow. Professor Cheng reads, 'Tao is the enigma of all creation'.
[2] Lau says that it is that by which the good man protects, but this is not borne out by other readings.
[3] The Ma wang tui text says they can be bought and sold.
[4] The Ma wang tui text says these can be offered to others as gifts.
[5] Both Lau and the Ma wang tui text ask why this way (the offering of Tao rather than gifts) was so valued of old. As the Ma wang tui text answers in next line: Did they not say, 'Those who seek, with this will attain, and those who commit offences, with this will escape'?

Wang Pi says:

It is 'the treasure of the good man' because useful to him. Due to its protection the integrity of the man who is not good is kept whole.

He translates the next line as, 'Fine words can be used to market it and noble behaviour can be used to influence others by it', and comments:

In other words, the Tao takes precedence over absolutely everything, and nothing could be more valuable. Jewels, treasure, jade disks or horses, nothing can match it. If one were to express it in fine words, it would command the highest prices on the market.... If one practices it in noble behaviour, even those at a distance of more than a thousand li will respond to it...

Those who are not good should be protected, for they are not rejected by the Tao.
'This Tao' refers to all that is said above. The reason the Son of Heaven is established and the three dukes installed, with these positions ennobled and a high value placed on those who fill them, is so that the Tao can be carried out through them. Because nothing could be more valuable than this, so that, although it might be embellished with disks of jade and gifts of horses, this falls short of promoting the Tao by letting them sit quietly (Wang Pi understands that it is the emperor and dukes who sit quietly).
If one asks for it, one gets what one wants, and if one violates it, one is forgiven by it. There are no circumstances to which it does not apply. This is what was esteemed by the ancients.

Cheng Man–ch'ing says: Tao is the mystery hidden in all things and is the treasure of the good man. Men who are not good rely on it as a shelter. Words of worth can gain popularity and create a city. The people respect deeds; the can raise the one who accomplishes them above all others. How can anyone, however bad, be abandoned? Chapter 27 states that the Sage abandons no–one. According to ritual, during the enthronement of an emperor or installation of the three ministers, first of all a precious disc of jade is presented with the two hands (out of respect), but this does not compare with riding onward upon the Tao. Even more to the point, would not the ancients have said that finding the Tao frees one from guilt? Truly the Tao is something the world should value.

There is no need to suppress 'bad thoughts' and cultivate 'good thoughts'... 'Negative' thoughts are just thoughts, and – as such – as empty as anything else... All that is needed is simply to let them go... just like anything else. 'Positive' thoughts are equally empty, and if cultivated as 'real' are simply 'gilding the lily'. Cultivated as emptiness, however, both 'good' and 'bad' thoughts point directly to the actual nature of the mind. They are the 'thieves in the empty house' referred to yesterday, 'winds in space'.
When one returns to the real (for all the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger does not seem to know this), everything one has previously done out of ignorance becomes subtly modified... It actually becomes the path that brought you to your awakening. The tale of Angulimala in the sutra of the same name is a case in point and there are various versions of this available on the web, e.g., at

or, in full, at

Once again I refer you to the words of the yogini Niguma:

If you don't understand that whatever appears is meditation,
What can you hope to achieve by applying an antidote?

Perceptions are not abandoned by discarding them
But are spontaneously freed when recognised as illusory.

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