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Lao Tzu

220 quote(s)  | Page 9 / 9

H e who knows the male (active force) and keeps to the female (the passive force or receptive element)
Becomes the ravine of the world.
Being the ravine of the world,
He will never depart from eternal virtue,
But returns to the state of infancy.
He who knows the white (glory) and yet keeps to the black (humility),
Becomes the model for the world.
Being the model for the world,
He will never deviate from eternal virtue,
But returns to the state of the Ultimate of Non-being.
He who knows glory but keeps to humility,
Becomes the valley of the world.
Being the valley of the world,
He will be proficient in eternal virtue,
And returns to the state of simplicity (uncarved wood).

quote 2192  | 
Laozi, 28, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

A good traveler leaves no track or trace.
A good speech leaves no flaws.
A good reckoner uses no counters.
A well-shut door needs no bolts, and yet it cannot be opened.
A well-tied knot needs no rope and yet none can untie it.
Therefore the sage is always good in saving men and consequently no man is rejected.
He is always good in saving things and consequently nothing is rejected.
This is called following the light (of Nature) (1)
Therefore the good man is the teacher of the bad,
And the bad is the material from which the good may learn.
He who does not value the teacher,
Or greatly care for the material,
Is greatly deluded although he may be learned.
Such is the essential mystery.

quote 2191  | 
Laozi 27, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

(1) The word hsi, here rendered as "following," is open to various interpretations: To cover, to penetrate, to practice, etc. (according to Ma Hsu-lun Lao Tzu chiao-ku, ch. 52, this hsi and the hsi meaning practice were interchangeable in ancient times), but it is most commonly understood as "following," an interpretation which is supported by the Chuang Tzu, ch. 2, where the terms "letting Nature follow its own course" (that is, following Nature) and "using the light" are repeatedly used.

T here was something undifferentiated and yet complete,
Which existed before heaven and earth.
Soundless and formless, it depends on nothing and does not change.
It operates everywhere and is free from danger.
It may be considered the mother of the universe.
I do not know its name; I call it Tao.
If forced to give it a name, I shall call it Great.
Now being great means functioning everywhere.
Functioning everywhere means far-reaching.
Being far-reaching means returning to the original point.
Therefore Tao is great.
Heaven is great.
Earth is great.
And the king (1), is also great.
There are four great things in the universe, and the king is
one of them.
Man models himself after Earth.
Earth models itself after Heaven.
Heaven models itself after Tao.
And Tao models itself after Nature.

quote 2190  | 
Laozi 25, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7 

The doctrine of returning to the original is prominent in Lao Tzu (see Lao Tzu, chs. 14, 16, 28, 40, 52.) It has contributed in no small degree to the common Chinese cyclical concept, which teaches that both history and reality operate in cycles.

T herefore the sage embraces the One
And becomes the model of the world.
He does not show himself; therefore he is luminous.
He does not justify himself; therefore he becomes prominent.
He does not boast of himself; therefore he is given credit.
He does not brag; therefore he can endure for long.
It is precisely because he does not compete that the world cannot compete with him.

quote 2188  | 
Laozi 22, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

T he all-embracing quality of the great virtue (te) follows alone from the Tao.
The thing that is called Tao is eluding and vague.
Vague and eluding, there is in it the form.
Eluding and vague, in it are things.
Deep and obscure, in it is the essence. (1)
The essence is very real; in it are evidences.
From the time of old until now, its name (manifestations) ever remains,
By which we may see the beginning of all things.
How do I know that the beginnings of all things are so?
Through this (Tao).

quote 2187  | 
Laozi 21, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

Philosophically this is the most important chapter of the book. The sentence "The essence is very real" virtually formed the backbone of Chou Tun-i's (Chou Lien-hsi, 1017-1073) Explanation of the Diagram of the Great Ultimate, which centers on the "reality of the Non-Ultimate and the essence of yin and yang." And Chou's work laid the foundation of the entire Neo-Confucian metaphysics. Of course Neo-Confucian metaphysics is more directly derived from the Book of Changes, but the concepts of reality in the Book of Changes and in this chapter are surprisingly similar.

T he multitude are merry, as though feasting on a day of sacrifice,
Or like ascending a tower at springtime.
I alone am inert, showing no sign (of desires),
Like an infant that has not yet smiled.
Wearied, indeed, I seem to be without a home.
The multitude all possess more than enough,
I alone seem to have lost all.
Mine is indeed the mind of an ignorant man,
Indiscriminate and dull!
Common folks are indeed brilliant;
I alone seem to be in the dark.

Common folks see differences and are clear-cut;
I alone make no distinctions.
I seem drifting as the sea;
Like the wind blowing about, seemingly without destination.
The multitude all have a purpose;
I alone seem to be stubborn and rustic.
I alone differ from others,
And value drawing sustenance from Mother (Tao).

quote 2186  | 
Laozi 20, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

A bandon learning and there will be no sorrow.
How much difference is there between "Yes, sir," and "Of course not"?
How much difference is there between "good" and "evil"?
What people dread, do not fail to dread.
But, alas, how confused, and the end is not yet

quote 2185  | 
Laozi 20, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

A Confucianist would never say "Abandon learning." Also he would sharply distinguish between good and evil. The Neo-Confucianist, Ch'eng Hao (Ch'eng Ming-tao, 1032-1085), has been severely criticized for his saying that "both good and evil in the world are both the Principle of Nature, and Wang Yang-ming was likewise widely attacked for teaching that "in the original substance of the mind there is no distinction between good and evil."

T herefore let people hold on to these:
Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity,
Reduce selfishness,
Have few desires.

quote 2184  | 
Laozi 19, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

T he great rulers value their words highly.
They accomplish their task; they complete their work.
Nevertheless their people say that they simply follow Nature (Tzu-jan) . (1)

quote 2183  | 
Laozi 17, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

(1) Tzu-jan, literally "self-so," means being natural or spontaneous.

H e who knows the eternal is all-embracing.
Being all-embracing, he is impartial.
Being impartial, he is kingly (universal) . (1)
Being kingly, he is one with Nature."
Being one with Nature, he is in accord with Tao.
Being in accord with Tao, he is everlasting,
And is free from danger throughout his lifetime.

quote 2182  | 
Laozi 16, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

In the philosophy of Lao Tzu, Tao is revealed most fully through tranquillity. The position of the Neo-Confucianists is just the opposite. They said that only through activity can the mind of Heaven and Earth be seen.

A ttain complete vacuity,
Maintain steadfast quietude.
All things come into being,
And I see thereby their return.
All things flourish,
But each one returns to its root.
This return to its root means tranquillity.
It is called returning to its destiny.
To return to destiny is called the eternal (Tao).
To know the eternal is called enlightenment.
Not to know the eternal is to act blindly to result in disaster.

quote 2181  | 
Laozi 16, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

O f old those who were the best ruler (1) were
mysterious and profoundly penetrating;
Too deep to comprehend.
And because they cannot be comprehended,
I can only describe them arbitrarily:
Cautious,like crossing a frozen stream in the winter,
Being at a loss, like one fearing danger on all sides,
Reserved, like one visiting,
Supple and pliant, like ice about to melt,
Genuine, like a piece of uncarved wood (2)
Open and broad, like a valley,
Merged and undifferentiated, like muddy water.

quote 2180  | 
Laozi 15, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

(1) The text has the word shih meaning the ruler instead of "Tao." In the text collacted by Fu I (555-639), Chiao-ting ku-pen Lao Tzu (The Old Text of the Lao Tzu Collated), however, the word is Tao instead. Ma Hsu-lun in his Lao Tzu chiao-ku (Lao Tzu collated and explained) and other scholars have preferred to follow Fu I. But the emendation is quite unnecessary. (2) P’u, literally an uncarved wood, has come to mean in Taoism simplicity, genuineness, etc.

W e look at it and do not see it;
its name is The Invisible.
We listen to it and do not hear it;
its name is The Inaudible.
We touch it and do not find it;
Its name is The Subtle (formless).
These three cannot be further inquired into,
And hence merge into one.
Going up high, it is not bright, and coming down low, it is not dark.
Infinite and boundless, it cannot be given any name;
It reverts to nothingness.
This is called shape without shape,
Form (hsiang) without object.
It is The Vague and Elusive.
Meet it and you will not see its head.
Follow it and you will not see its back.
Hold on to the Tao of old in order to master the things of the present.
From this one may know the primeval beginning [of the universe].
This is called the bond of Tao (1).

quote 2179  | 
Laozi 14, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

(1) Chi, literally a thread, denotes tradition, discipline, principle, order, essence, etc. Generally it means the system, principle, or continuity that binds things together.

H e who loves the world as his body may be entrusted with the empire.

quote 2178  | 
Laozi 13, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

On the basis of this attitude toward the body (also found in Lao Tzu, ch. 44.), it is difficult to accept the theory that Yang Chu, who would preserve one's own life under any circumstances, was an early Taoist, as Fung has maintained. (History of Chinese Philosophy, vol. 1, P. 137.).

C an you keep the spirit and embrace the One without departing from them?
Can you concentrate your vital force (ch'I) and achieve the higher degree of weakness like an infant?
Can you clean and purify your profound insight so it will be spotless?
Can you love the people and govern the state without knowledge (cunning)?
Can you play the role of the female in the opening and closing of the gates of Heaven?
Can you understand all and penetrate all without taking any action?
To produce things and to rear them,
To produce, but not to take possession of them,
To act, but not to rely on one's own ability,
To lead them, but not to master them
This is called profound and secret virtue (hsuan-te).

quote 2177  | 
Laozi 10, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

The concentration of ch'i (vital force, breath) is not yoga, as Waley thinks it is. Yoga aims at transcending the self and the external environment. Nothing of the sort is intended her. It is true that in the Huai-nan Tzu, ch. 12, the story of Yen Hui’s "sitting down and forgetting everything" (SPPY, 12:14a) is recited to explain Lao Tzu's saying. But note that "the concentration" is followed by "loving the people" and "governing the state." Because the yoga breathing technique was later promoted by the religious Taoists, some scholars have unjustifiably read it into earlier texts. Wu Ch'eng (1249-1333), for example, thought that the "continuous” operation in ch. 6 was breathing, which is certainly going too far.

T ao is empty (like a bowl),
It may be used but its capacity is never exhausted,
It is bottomless, perhaps the ancestor of all things.
It blunts its sharpness,
It unties its tangles.
It softens its light.
It becomes one with the dusty world.
Deep and still, it appears to exist forever.
I do not know whose son it is.
It seem (1) to have existed before the Lord.

quote 2176  | 
Laozi 4, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

(1) The word hsiang here means "seems" and repeats the feeling expressed in the "appear" two lines before. To interpret it as "image," as does Arthur Waley, would be to make the Lao Tzu more metaphysical than it really is.

T he best (man) is like water.
Water is good; it benefits all things and does not
compete with them.
It dwells in (lowly) places that all disdain.
This is why it is so near to Tao.
[The best man] in his dwelling loves the earth.
In his heart, he loves what is profound.
In his associations, he loves humanity.
In his words, he loves faithfulness.
In government, he loves order.
In handling affairs, he loves competence.
In his activities, he loves timeliness.
It is because he does not compete that he is without reproach.

quote 2174  | 
Laozi, 8, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

Water, the female, and the infant are Lao Tzu's famous symbols of Tao. The emphasis of the symbolism is ethical rather then metaphysical. It is interesting to note that while early Indians associated water with creation" and the Greeks looked upon it as a natural phenomenon, ancient Chinese philosophers, whether Lao Tzu or Confucius preferred to learn moral lessons from it. Broadly speaking, these different approaches have characterized Indian, Western, and East Asian civilizations, respectively.

H eaven is eternal and Earth everlasting.
They can be eternal and everlasting because they do not exist for themselves,
And for this reason can exist forever,
Therefore the sage places himself in the background,
but finds himself in the foreground,
He puts himself away, and yet he always remains.
Is it not because he has no personal interests?
This is the reason why his personal interests
are fulfilled.

quote 2173  | 
Laozi 7, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

T he Tao (Way) that can be told of is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
The Named is the mother of all things.
Therefore let there always be non-being so we may see their subtlety,(1)
And let there always be being (2) so we may see their outcome.
The two are the same,
But after they are produced, they have different names .(3)
They both may be called deep and profound (hsuan).(4)
Deeper and more profound,
The door of all subtleties!

quote 2172  | 
Laozi 1, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

(1) This translation of miao as "subtlety" rather than "mystery" is according to Wang Pi. (2) Ho-shang Kung and Wang Pi punctuated the sentences to mean "have desires” and "have no desires." This interrupts the thought of the chapter. Beginging with Wang An-shib's (1021-1086) Lao Tzu chu (Commentary), some scholars have punctuated the two sentences after wu (no) and yu (to be), thus making them to mean "There is always non-being" and "There is always being." (3) Ch'en Ching-yuan (d. 1229), in his Tao-te ching chu (Commentary), punctuates the sentence after t'ung (the same) instead of t'ung-ch'u (produced from the same). This punctuation preserves the ancient rhyme of the verse. (4) The word hsuan means profound and mysterious.

B eing and non-being produce each other;
Difficult and easy complete each other;
Long and short contrast (1) each other;
High and low distinguish each other;
Sound and voice harmonize with each other;
Front and back follow each other.
Therefore the sage manages affairs without action (wu-wei)
And spreads doctrines without words.
All things arise, and he does not turn away from them.
He produces them, but does not take possession of them.
He acts, but does not rely on his own ability.
He accomplishes his task, but does not claim credit for it.
It is precisely because he does not claim credit that his accomplishment remains with him.

quote 2171  | 
Laozi 2, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 

(1) Some texts substitute the character chiao for hsing, both of which mean to contrast. The former does not rhyme, while the latter appears in the older text.

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