Chapters 16, 44-47, 56

Part 11: Self-Realization

September 18, 2021

Chapter 16: Meditation and Fellow-feeling with Everything leads to the Tao

1 The state of nothingness should be brought to the utmost degree.

The state of stillness should be guarded with unwearying vigour.

All things alike go through their processes of activity. Afterwards, they return to their original state.

When plants have displayed their luxuriant growth, they return to their root. This returning to their root is what we call the state of stillness. That stillness may be called a reporting that they have fulfilled their appointed end.

2 The report of that fulfillment is the regular, unchanging rule.

To know that unchanging rule is to be intelligent. Not knowing it leads to wild movements and evil issues. The knowledge of that unchanging rule produces a grand capacity and forbearance. That capacity and forbearance leads to a community, a sense of feeling* with all things.

From this community of feeling comes a kingliness of character.

He who is king-like goes on to be heaven-like. In that likeness to heaven he possesses the Tao.

Possessed of the Tao, his soul becomes immortal, exempt from all danger of decay after death.

*Translator’s note= this is explained by Adam Smith in the Theory of Moral Sentiments which emphasizes fellow-feeling

Chapter 44: Initiation

1 Which do you hold dearer=

  • fame or life?
  • life or wealth?

To which would you adhere?

Keep life and lose those other things. Keep them and lose your life and bring sorrow and pain nearer.

2 Thus, those who yearn for fame rejects what is greater. Those who love large stores give up the richer state.

3 A content man will not be ashamed. A person who knows to stop will incur no blame. He will live long and be free from danger.

Chapter 45: Purity and Stillness

1 He who thinks that:

  • his own great achievements are poor will find his vigour lasting long.
  • his greatest fullness is a void will not be exhausted to fill it.

2 Constant action overcomes cold. Being still overcomes heat. Purity and stillness give the correct law to all under heaven.

Chapter 46: Contentment

1 When the Tao prevails in the world, the people send back their swift horses to draw the dung-carts.

When the Tao is disregarded in the world, the war-horses breed in the border lands.

2 Sanctioning ambition is the greatest guilt.

Being discontented with one’s lot is the greatest calamity.

The wish of gain is the greatest fault.

Therefore the sufficiency of contentment is an enduring and unchanging sufficiency.

Chapter 47: The Tao or True Nature is Inside Us

  • Without going outside his door, one understands all that takes place under the sky.
  • Without looking out from his window, one sees the Tao of Heaven.

The farther that one goes out from himself, the less he knows.

2 Therefore the sages:

  • got their knowledge without travelling
  • gave names to things without seeing them
  • accomplished their ends without any purpose of doing so.

Chapter 56: The Knowledge of the Tao or True Nature

1 He who knows the Tao does not care to speak about it. He who is ever ready to speak about it does not know it.

2 He who knows it will keep his mouth shut and close his nostrils. He will blunt his sharp points and unravel the complications of things. He will attemper his brightness, and bring himself into agreement with the obscurity of others. This is called ’the Mysterious Agreement.'

3 Such an one cannot be treated familiarly or distantly. He is beyond all consideration of profit or injury; of nobility or meanness:—he is the noblest man under heaven.