Friday, May 4, 2012

Day 21: A Tao Te Ching Verse that is Relevant to you Right Now

I am currently being comforted and contemplating the 5th verse of the Tao Te Ching.  Let me give you two translations.

Version 1:
Nature is not kind;
It treats all things impartially.
The Sage is not kind,
And treats all people impartially.

Nature is like a bellows,
Empty, yet never ceasing its supply.
The more it moves, the more it yields;
So the sage draws upon experience
And cannot be exhausted.
- Verse 5, based on multiple translations

Version 2:
Heaven and Earth are impartial
And regard myriad things as straw dogs
The sages are impartial
And regard people as straw dogs

The space between Heaven and Earth
Is it not like a bellows?
Empty, and yet never exhausted
It moves, and produces more

Too many words hasten failure
Cannot compare to keeping quiet
-Verse 5, Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained by Derek Lin, Skylight Illuminations.

FYI - Straw dogs were little dog figurines made out of straw that were discarded after use.

The impartiality of nature (or heavens and earth) is something that brings great comfort to me in times of grief and hardship.  As opposed to many religions that teach you that things happen as a result of your actions and only being a good follower will save you from tragedies, this verse suggests that good and bad things happen randomly, not by divine choice.  This helps me when trying to figure out why death finds some so quickly and others so slowly.  And personally, why life finds some quickly and others slowly.

I also really love Lin's translation of the last line.

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