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Tao Te Ching is a difficult book because of its ancient language that can be rendered in many ways, and also because the philosophy of concepts developed by its author, Lao Tzu.  About the meaning of the concepts you may read in the Tao-Te section of this blog. Regarding the philosophy you may benefit from the commentaries.

Generaly speaking every translator of the Book provide the corresponding commentaries assigned to the chapters. Unfortunately those commentaries are not similar. Therefore the feeling of uncertanity when one reads the Book. The question is: how do I know what is the best commentary? You don’t know.

Still there is a hope. Perhaps the best commentaries come from the one who is familiarised with the Taoist philosophy. This philosophy is the heart of the Book. Such a person is the author of the comments that I published here (with his accord).

Tao Te Ching, chapter 3, verse 1

Not to value and employ men of superior ability is the way to keep the people from rivalry among themselves; not to prize articles which are difficult to procure is the way to keep them from becoming thieves; not to show them what is likely to excite their desires is the way to keep their minds from disorder. (Legge translation)

Comment: Everything bad in the human society start from having too much. In the above quote too much means superior ability, prize what is difficult, and exciting shows. Everything lead to rivalry, thieves and mind disorder.
In our modern psychology too there’s a fact that what is praised too much excite our will – and when we miss the praised items we fall ill. When we feel we are not able to attain what others keep in high esteem we fall down. The ego splits. This is call neurosis.

Tao Te Ching, chapter 4, verse 1

The Tao is (like) the emptiness of a vessel; and in our
employment of it we must be on our guard against all fulness. (Legge’s translation)

Comment: In other words we should keep the right middle way between empty and full. Like the above idea, here too what is too much leads to disorders.

Tao Te Ching, chapter 8, verse 1

The highest excellence is like (that of) water. The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying, without striving (to the contrary), the low place which all men dislike. Hence (its way) is near to (that of) the Tao. (Legge translation)

Comment: Many said that water is the symbol of Taoists conduct because it is yin-like, female-like. They believe the Taoist sage always follows the female-like path. Thus he rejects the yang-like!
This is not so here. Here water is the symbol of someone who is useful for many but in the same time he/she doesn’t request higher position. On the contrary he accommodates a low position “which all men disllikes”. Doing this he follows the Tao.


Comments by Master Jhian.

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