I wanted a Book of the Way accessible to a present-day, unwise, unpowerful, and perhaps unmale reader, not seeking esoteric secrets, but listening for a voice that speaks to the soul. I would like that reader to see why people have loved the book for twenty-five hundred years.
It is the most lovable of all the great religious texts, funny, keen, kind, modest, indestructibly outrageous, and inexhaustibly refreshing. Of all the deep springs, this is the purest water.
Practicing the Tao Te Ching: 81 Steps on the Way (Paperback) | Boulder Book Store
To me, it is also the deepest spring. And so, with equal parts reverence and imaginative rigor, Le Guin plunges into the spring. Of the first, she notes:. A satisfactory translation of this chapter is, I believe, perfectly impossible. It contains the book. Two things, one origin, but different in name, whose identity is mystery. Mystery of all mysteries! The door to the hidden.
Everything Lao Tzu says is elusive. The temptation is to grasp at something tangible in the endlessly deceptive simplicity of the words… It is the profound modesty of the language that offers what so many people for so many centuries have found in this book: a pure apprehension of the mystery of which we are part.
Can you keep your soul in its body, hold fast to the one, and so learn to be whole? Can you center your energy, be soft, tender, and so learn to be a baby? Can you keep the deep water still and clear, so it reflects without blurring?go site
The Tao of Painting
Can you love people and run things, and do so by not doing? Opening, closing the Gate of Heaven, can you be like a bird with her nestlings? Piercing bright through the cosmos, can you know by not knowing? To give birth, to nourish, to bear and not to own, to act and not lay claim, to lead and not to rule: this is mysterious power. Taoists gain their ends without the use of means.
That is indeed a light that does not shine—an idea that must be pondered and brooded over. A small dark light. Le Guin explains:. Autocracy and oligarchy foster the beliefs that power is gained magically and retained by sacrifice, and that powerful people are genuinely superior to the powerless. Lao Tzu does not see political power as magic. He sees rightful power as earned and wrongful power as usurped. He does not see power as virtue, but as the result of virtue. The democracies are founded on that view. He sees sacrifice of self or others as a corruption of power, and power as available to anybody who follows the Way.
This is a radically subversive attitude.
No wonder anarchists and Taoists make good friends. People who treated the body politic as gently as their own body would be worthy to govern the commonwealth. In the twenty-fourth chapter, for instance, Lao Tzu writes:. Knowing other people is intelligence, knowing yourself is wisdom.
Overcoming others takes strength, overcoming yourself takes greatness. Taoism is the belief that the universe and everything it encompasses follows a harmony, regardless of human influence, and the harmony is made up of goodness, integrity, and simplicity. The Tao Te Ching repeats the importance of benevolence and respect. Passages frequently use symbolism to explain the natural harmony of existence.
As one of the most translated and prolific works in history, the Tao Te Ching had a strong and dramatic influence on Chinese culture and society. During Imperial China, Taoism took on strong religious aspects, and the Tao Te Ching became the doctrine by which individuals shaped their worship practices. Though the dates of his birth and death are unknown, Laozi is believed to have been a contemporary of Confucius. By some accounts, the two historic figures were actually the same person. According to Sima Qian, the two figures either met or were discussed in conjunction with one another several times.
Once, Confucius went to Laozi to ask about rites and rituals. He returned home and remained silent for three days before proclaiming to his students that Laozi was a dragon, flying amongst the clouds. On another occasion, Laozi declared that Confucius was confined and limited by his pride and ambition. According to Laozi, Confucius did not understand that life and death were equal. Both Confucianism and Taoism became pillars of Chinese culture and religion, although in different ways. Confucianism, with its rites, rituals, ceremonies, and prescribed hierarchies, became the outline or physical construction of Chinese society.
By contrast, Taoism emphasized the spirituality, harmony, and duality present in nature and existence, especially as it grew to encompass more religious aspects during the Imperial Era.
Both Confucianism and Taoism maintain influence over Chinese culture as well as many societies across the Asian continent. Share Flipboard Email. Taoism Origins Principles. Elizabeth Reninger is a Taoist practitioner of qigong, acupuncture, and tuina massage.
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Updated April 04, Laozi, Tao Te Ching.