Tag Archive: Tao Te Ching
This video is the updated revised version on the full length commentary on Lao Tze’s Tao Te Ching by Eckhart Tolle
For more literary commentaries by other authors, please scroll down to the right hand side bar – Resource Center / Tag and click on Tao Te Ching.
What are you seeking – love, happiness, peace, abundance? We are all seeking a better life for ourselves. However, all outward seeking is a reflection of something far more important – the inner seeking of our soul.
Our soul has an inner purpose that is common to every human being on the planet. This purpose has been given several names – the shift, spiritual change, awakening, enlightenment, unity consciousness and ascension. Knowingly or unknowingly, our inner spirit is on an expedition towards reconnecting with the universal consciousness or God-consciousness through awakening to the truth of its inner nature. When we consciously participate in this shift, we expedite this re-connection.
The shift is a simple process, if we allow change to flow through us and if we are able to trust our heart. In Shifting to Tao in 8 Months, 81 Verses, 81 Simple Lessons, Losita Bhattacharya recounts her own spiritual journey that created a shift in her thoughts, her consciousness and her view of life.
Losita is a writer and spiritual coach. Over the last few years, she experienced an inner transformation that catapulted her on a spiritual path, taking her away from her previous job in the corporate world to becoming a full time spiritual coach, helping others find their way through their shift in consciousness. Based on her own shift and coaching clients through their spiritual journeys, Losita created the ‘Journey to Spirit’ and ‘Oneness’ workshops that she conducts around the world. She writes regularly on her blog, http://www.ionearth.org and she can be reached through her website, http://www.lositabhattacharya.com.
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The Tao Te Ching—one of the most loved and widely translated books in human history—has appeared in countless English-language versions. But no modern translation has yet captured the essential thrust of Lao Tzu’s work as a practical guide to living an awakened life.
Now William Martin, whose acclaimed previous reinterpretations of the Tao (for parents, couples, and elders) have introduced or reacquainted this classic text to thousands of readers, strikingly translates the Tao’s eighty-one chapters to uniquely address someone on a Tao—or path—with a practice.
Martin frames his new translation with two illuminating, groundbreaking sections: “A Path,” which introduces the Tao’s nonlinear construction and explains how it works its themes; and “A Practice,” which provides practical guidance for readers exploring each of the Tao’s themes in depth. Martin’s genius in this new translation uncovers how directly the Tao speaks to readers on or about to embark on a spiritual journey.
William Martin is a New York Times bestselling author of nine novels. He is best known for his historical fiction, which has chronicled the lives of the great and the anonymous in American history while bringing to life legendary American locations, from Cape Cod to Annapolis. He has also written an award-winning PBS documentary, one of the cheesiest horror movies ever made, magazine articles, and book reviews for The Boston Globe. He was the recipient of the 2005 New England Book Award. He has three grown children and lives near Boston with his wife.
The Tao-te Ching, a classic of the literature of enlightenment, expresses the same reality of life as the Vedic literature of India. Speaker: Dr. Bevan Morris, President of Maharishi University of Management.
THE SECOND BOOK OF THE TAO
Compiled and adapted from the Chuang-tzu and the Chung Yung, with commentaries
The Penguin Press, 2009
The most widely translated book in world literature after the Bible, Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching, or Book of the Way, is the classic manual on the art of living. Following the phenomenal success of his own version of the Tao Te Ching, renowned scholar and translator Stephen Mitchell has composed the innovative The Second Book of the Tao.
Drawing from the work of Lao-tzu’s disciple Chuang-tzu and Confucius’s grandson Tzu-ssu, Mitchell has selected the freshest, clearest teachings from these two great students of the Tao and adapted them into versions that reveal the poetry, depth, and humor of the ancient texts with a thrilling new power, and makes them at once modern, relevant, and timeless.
Alongside each adaptation, Mitchell includes his own brilliant commentary, at once illuminating and complementing the text.
The left to the Tao Te Ching’s right, the yang to its yin, a companion volume and antimanual, The Second Book of the Tao is a great gift to contemporary readers.
“A second book of the Tao? There’s no such thing! What did you do—pull it out of your hat?”
Well, yes, if hat is defined as the treasury of recorded wisdom that is our common birthright. In that treasury, there is nothing more precious than the wisdom of the ancient Chinese.
The selections in this book have been adapted from two Chinese anthologies that were probably compiled between 300 and 100 bce: the Chuang-tzu, parts of which were written by the eponymous sage, Master Chuang (c. 369 – c. 286 bce), and the Chung Yung (“The Central Harmony”), which was ascribed to Confucius’ grandson, Tzu-ssu (c. 483 – c. 402 bce).
I have anthologized these anthologies, picking from them the freshest, clearest, most profound passages. Facing each chapter there is a brief commentary, which is meant to clarify the text or to complement it. I have written these in the spirit of Chuang-tzu, for whom nothing, thank goodness, was sacred.
The first book of the Tao (written by the perhaps legendary Lao-tzu) is the Tao Te Ching, that marvel of lucidity and grace, the classic manual on the art of living. What I wanted to create here was a left to its right, a yang to its yin, a companion volume and anti-manual.
The Chuang-tzu had the perfect material for that: deep, subtle, with an audacity that can make your hair stand on end. If Lao-tzu is a smile, Chuang-tzu is a belly-laugh. He’s the clown of the Absolute, the apotheosis of incredulity, Coyote among the bodhisattvas. And the Chung Yung provided a psychological and moral acuity of comparable depth.
Readers who are familiar with the Tao Te Ching but don’t yet know the Chuang-tzu or the Chung Yung—or who, having dipped into them, were discouraged by their unevenness—are in for a treat. Naturally, since all three texts tell of the Tao that can’t be told, there are passages in The Second Book of the Tao that overlap with the Tao Te Ching.
But even these passages may strike you as revelations, as if some explorer had discovered a trove of unknown Lao-tzu scrolls buried in a desert cave. And there is much that will be entirely new: meditations on dreams, death, language, the I and the other, doing and not-doing, the origin of the universe, the absolute relativity of things.
In addition to these descriptions, we meet a cast of vivid characters, most of them humble artisans or servants, who show us what it means to be in harmony with the way things are: the monkey trainer who turns on a dime in his hilarious, compassionate diplomacy; Ting, Prince Wen-hui’s cook, whose one-pointedness elevates butchering to the level of the performing arts and beyond; Pien the wheelwright, willing to risk his life to teach a ferocious nobleman that what is most valuable can’t be taught; Ch’ing the woodworker, whose bell stand is so beautiful that people think a god must have made it; and Chi Hsing-tzu, trainer of champion gamecocks and virtuoso of patience.
We also meet philosophers and fools: Lieh-tzu, who has an intimate chat with a skull; Hui-tzu, the epitome of logic and propriety, Chuang-tzu’s friend and rival, straight man and foil; the ludicrous Marquis of Lu, who shows that the Golden Rule can be mere projected egotism; and Master Yu, who, even when afflicted with a grotesque deformity, never loses his cheerfulness and sense of gratitude.
Finally there is Chuang-tzu himself. We meet him in a few delectable stories and dialogues, as he wakes up (maybe) from the dream of a butterfly, refuses the post of prime minister, celebrates the death of his beloved wife, or discusses the usefulness of the useless and the happiness of fish.
Chuang-tzu has been called a mystical anarchist, and it’s true that his words sometimes have a contrarian flavor that seems to put them at odds with Lao-tzu’s concern for enlightened government. Given the least semblance of control, Chuang-tzu offers a whole world of irreverence and subversion. But if you look more closely, you’ll see that he is neither a mystic nor an anarchist. He’s simply someone who doesn’t linger in any mental construct about reality, someone who lives as effortless action and peace of heart, because he has freed himself from his own beliefs.
What he subverts is conventional thinking, with its hierarchies of judgment, its fors and againsts, betters and worses, insides and outsides, and its delusion that life is random, unfair, and somehow not good enough. Learn how to govern your own mind, Chuang-tzu says, and the universe will govern itself. In this he is in wholehearted agreement with Lao-tzu and with the meticulous Tzu-ssu, for whom attention to the innermost self is the direct path to a just society.
One of the qualities I most treasure in Chuang-tzu is his sense of the spontaneous, the uncapturable. This makes it easy to follow in his footsteps. Since there are no footsteps, all you can follow is what he himself followed: the Tao. He had confidence that in being true to his own insight he was being true to his teacher Lao-tzu.
There was nothing to say and no way to say it, yet it had to be said. As a Zen poet-descendant of his wrote more than a thousand years later,
The moon floats above the pine trees
as you sit on the veranda in the cool evening air.
Your fingertips move lightly along the flute.
The melody is so lovely that it makes the
But wisdom’s flute has no holes
and its ancient clear music is beyond emotion.
Don’t even try to play it
unless you can make the great sound of Lao-tzu.
What could be more useless than a flute with no holes? Yet, if you understand, you put it to your lips and the ancient clear music happens by itself. Had Chuang-tzu believed that there was anything to live up to, he would have been too intimidated even to try. There was nothing to live up to. There was only a passion for the genuine, a fascination with words, and a constant awareness that the ancient Masters are alive and well in the mind that doesn’t know a thing.
When we exhaust our minds by clinging to a particular side of reality without realizing the underlying oneness, this is called “three in the morning.” What does that mean?
A monkey trainer, handing out acorns, said, “Each of you will get three in the morning and four in the afternoon.” The monkeys were outraged.
So he said, “All right, then: you’ll get four in the morning and three in the afternoon.” The monkeys were delighted.
Nothing essential had changed, yet one statement produced anger, and the other, joy. The trainer simply knew how to adapt to reality, and he lost nothing by it.
Thus the Master uses his skill to harmonize with both sides, and rests in the Tao, which makes all things equal. This is called “walking on two paths at once.”
The whole human condition is present in this tricky little tale, which would be sad if it weren’t so ridiculous. Although from the standpoint of the monkeys it’s about the power of righteous indignation, from the standpoint of the monkey trainer, behind the scenes, it’s about skillful management. You have to admire his one-two punch; he’s both bad cop and good cop. But what is the trainer training the monkeys in, anyway? Discernment? If so, he’s being made a monkey of.
Whenever we cling to a particular side of reality, it’s we who are the monkeys, losing ourselves in outrage or partial delight. If we look more carefully, though, we can see that reality has only one side, like a Möbius strip. Stars or raindrops, acorns or ashes, apparent blessings, apparent disasters—when the mind is clear, each is an occasion for rejoicing. That’s what discernment is about.
Once our mind-monkeys are fully trained, it’s all good. In the mathematics of mental peace, three equals four, one equals zero. Adapting to reality means recognizing that nothing underlies or overlays it. The Master can travel on two paths at once, like a photon, because his mind is free. He’s subatomic and supererogatory. He knows that all ways are the Way and that ultimately he is neither coming nor going.
Nothing in the world is bigger
than the tip of an autumn hair,
and Mount Everest is tiny.
No one in the world has lived longer
than a stillborn child,
and Methuselah died young.
The universe came into being
the moment that I was born,
and all things are one with me.
Since all things are one,
how can I put that into words?
But since I just said they are one,
how can my words mean nothing?
The one plus my words make two,
and the two plus the one make three.
If we continue in this way,
even the greatest mathematician
couldn’t calculate where it will end.
If by moving from non-being to being
we get to three, what happens
when we move from being to being?
It’s better just to leave things alone.
There are paradoxes born of wit and paradoxes born of insight. No thought is true, but some thoughts are so much truer than the ones we’re used to that they seem absurd at first glance. It’s all a question of perspective.
Down at the level of the micro, there is no macro. If you get small enough, you see that the world isn’t solid and that uncertainty is the only thing that’s certain, perhaps. Thus, everything the electron meets is electronal. Ditto a galaxy: its consciousness, if it has one, is as little aware of a planet as you are of a corpuscle. We can’t stand outside the system and point to what’s real, because what’s real is defined by the system. This is relativity writ large. The fastest thing in the universe isn’t light: it’s mind.
All things may be one with me, but am I one with them? That’s the issue. And once I am one, what then? Even the one is excessive for anyone who wants to be meticulous. Look where it leads, after all—to two, to three, to infinity, to an infinity of infinities and beyond: always the unattainable, unassuageable beyond.
Of course, the nothing is out of the question as well, since there’s already a word for it. Not one? Not nothing? This leaves you in an ideal position: speechless, delighted, and ready to say the most nonsensical things, if only they make sense.
Stephen Mitchell is widely known for his ability to make ancient masterpieces thrillingly new, to step in where many have tried before and create versions that are definitive for our time. His many books include the bestselling Tao Te Ching, The Book of Job, Bhagavad Gita, and The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. His web site is http://www.stephenmitchellbooks.com.
The tao that can be toldis not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.The gateway to all understanding.
When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good, other things become bad.
Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.
Therefore the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come; things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess, acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.
If you overesteem great men, people become powerless.
If you overvalue possessions, people begin to steal.
The Master leads by emptying people’s minds and filling their cores,
by weakening their ambition and toughening their resolve.
He helps people lose everything they know, everything they desire,
and creates confusion in those who think that they know.
Practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place.
The Tao is like a well: used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities.
It is hidden but always present.
I don’t know who gave birth to it.
It is older than God.
The Tao doesn’t take sides; it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn’t take sides; she welcomes both saints and sinners.
The Tao is like a bellows: it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces; the more you talk of it, the less you understand.
Hold on to the center.
The Tao is called the Great Mother: empty yet inexhaustible,
it gives birth to infinite worlds.
It is always present within you.
You can use it any way you want.
The Tao is infinite, eternal.
Why is it eternal?
It was never born; thus it can never die.
Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself; thus it is present for all beings.
The Master stays behind; that is why she is ahead.
She is detached from all things; that is why she is one with them.
Because she has let go of herself, she is perfectly fulfilled.
The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.
In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.
When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.
Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.
Can you coax your mind from its wandering
and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become supple as a newborn child’s?
Can you cleanse your inner vision until you see nothing but the light?
Can you love people and lead them without imposing your will?
Can you deal with the most vital matters by letting events take their course?
Can you step back from you own mind and thus understand all things?
Giving birth and nourishing, having without possessing, acting with no expectations,
leading and not trying to control: this is the supreme virtue.