Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Verse 5


Heaven and earth are impartial;
they give rise to both good and evil.
The Master doesn’t take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.
To her none are especially dear,
nor is there anyone she disfavours.
She gives and gives, without condition,
offering her treasures to everyone.

The space between heaven and earth
is like a bellows;
it is empty and inexhaustible.
The more it is used, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you comprehend.

Hold on to the centre.
Man was made to sit quietly and find
the truth within.

Albert Camus once spoke of “opening our heart to the benign indifference of the universe”. The Tao is impartial and is far beyond taking sides or judging the conduct of humankind. Whereas we might categorise others as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘worthy’ or ‘unworthy’ and treat them accordingly, the Tao supports and nurtures all beings without discrimination.

The Master, living in alignment with the Tao, behaves in kind, refusing to get drawn into the pettiness of human affairs, refusing to be swayed by the world’s definition of people as either ‘saints’ or ‘sinners’. Instead, he offers his treasures to all, much as the sun shines its light on all creatures, without a hint of reservation or favouritism.

The remainder of this verse offers more pointers to understanding the mystery of the Tao. Again Lao Tzu reminds us that the more we talk of it, the less we will comprehend it. So, instead of using words and concepts to try and understand, he urges us to instead “hold on to the centre” and find the truth within.

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