Sunday, 15 January 2012

Verse 50


Between birth and death,
three in ten are followers of life;
three in ten are followers of death.
And men just passing from birth to death
also number three in ten.

What is the reason for this?
Because they fear death
and cling to this passing world.

But there is one out of ten, they say, so sure of life
that they walk safely among wild animals.
When in dangerous situations, they remain unharmed.
The animals find no place to attack them
and weapons are unable to harm them.

Why is this?
Because they dwell in that place
where death cannot enter.

Realise your essence
and you will witness the end without ending.

Lao Tzu speaks of four ways that people tend to approach life. The first two are by attachment and clinging to life, or by aversion and fear of death (which are, of course, but two sides of the same coin). The cycle of attachment and aversion is what motivates and unconsciously governs the lives of the majority of people. The third way is simply passing through life like a leaf in the wind, helplessly buffeted about, vainly hoping that things will get better while fearing they’ll get worse. At the root of all this is a desperate clinging to life, brought on by a fear of death, which is caused simply by our deep ignorance of what we truly are.

The Master, the rarest of all people, has a different approach to life because he has surrendered to life. He has no fear of death, and equally no fear of life. There is nothing he holds onto, nothing he resists. He is one with life.

It is suggested that the Master, realising his true essence and being rooted in that, is impervious to peril and danger. Whether this is meant to be taken literally or not is a matter of debate. What it perhaps means is that his lack of resistance to life and death allows for a kinder, gentler passage through life.

This doesn’t mean he will never encounter adversity or challenge, for such is the very nature of life. But it does mean that such adversity no longer has the ability to topple him. He no longer fears death or is clinging to a fragile sense of self that can be shattered by the slightest event; such as a hostile encounter with a stranger, an argument or even the mildest of criticisms. The Master transcends outward circumstances and reality. He is at one with everything.


  1. Thank you for this. You seem to have the gift of teaching. I am new to the Tao and I have gained some understanding from your work. Your writing is wonderful, as well.

  2. Thanks Susan, I appreciate your comment and am really glad you've found the blog helpful :-D