This article will discuss Chapters Ten through Eighteen of the Tao Te Ching, which is the second group of nine chapters. The chapters in this section talk about history, and also challenge the reader to return to the Tao. The “history” he describes was intended to be taken symbolically.
CHAPTER TEN: MULTIPLE QUESTIONS ABOUT OPPOSITES
10.1 Can you embrace Unity with your Spirit while still incarnate?
10.2 Can you achieve the gentleness of an infant, while being a man?
10.3 Can you polish your mysterious Inner Mirror until it is spotless?
10.4 Can you love all the People, and rule the land without being known?
10.5 Can you be a woman, and open and shut heaven’s gates?
10.6 Can you understand with the heart, and not the mind?
10.7 Create and raise them, but do not possess them; lead but do not dominate – this is True Power!
CHAPTER ELEVEN: EMPTINESS IS IMPORTANT
11.1 Thirty spokes converge in the hub of a wheel, but the chariot uses the emptiness between the spokes in order to roll.
11.2 A ceramicist throws clay onto a potter’s wheel, to mold a bowl, but the utility of the bowl depends on its emptiness.
11.3 A builder cuts openings in walls to install doors and windows, but the emptiness between the walls is what makes a room.
11.4 Therefore, Being emerges from Nothingness.
CHAPTER TWELVE: AVOID CONFUSION!
12.1 The Five Colors confuse the eyes, Five Tones the ears, and Five Flavors the tongue.
12.2 Pursuing what one lacks, causes madness.
12.3 Therefore, the Sage relies on his Inner Mirror, and not his senses, to make choices.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: TRUST ISSUES
13.1 Accept neither favor nor disgrace; trouble is a part of being human.
13.2 What does this mean, “Accept neither favor nor disgrace”? Favor and disgrace are based on the opinions of others.
13.3 What does this mean, “trouble is a part of being human”? Trouble comes from selfishness and attachment to one’s own body. Without selfishness, what trouble can there be?
13.4 Therefore, only let those who value the empire as themselves be entrusted to govern the empire. Those who love an empire as themselves are the only ones who should rightly be allowed to administer the empire.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: ASPECTS OF THE UNITY
14.1 We look at it, but cannot see it; it is invisible, so we call it the Illusive. We listen for it, but cannot hear it; it is inaudible, so we call it the Silence. We grasp it, cannot hold it; it is intangible, so we call it the Subtle.
14.2 These three are only Aspects of its unfathomable Power; however, it is a Unity.
14.3 This Unity, this Source, is neither light nor dark; it neither rises, nor falls; unwinding itself, like a slender thread, going back to a Time when there was nothing else. It has no Name.
14.4 This is the form beyond formlessness, being beyond non-being, indefinable and inscrutable. Meet it, and you cannot see a Face. Follow it, and you cannot see a Back.
14.5 Stay on the Ancient Road in order to Master the Present. Following the thread back to the primeval beginning is the Key to Knowledge of the Road
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: SAGES OF OLD
15.1 The Sages of Old had ancient mystic wisdom and profound understanding, and were too deep to comprehend.
15.2 Because they were too deep to comprehend, I shall attempt to describe them obliquely: they were cautious, as if crossing a stream in mid-winter; alert, as if aware of danger on all sides; courteous, like visiting guests;
15.3 They could vanish, like melting ice, being unobtrusive as an uncarved block of wood; they were empty as a valley, and still as the muddy waters of a marsh.
15.4 They were able to purify the darkness until it slowly becomes the light, and calm the turbid marsh until it clears. Who is able to quicken the stagnant until it slowly makes progress?
15.5 Those who follow these principles do not desire fullness. Because they are not empty, they are constantly renewed.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: BECOME ONE WITH THE TAO
16.1 Empty your mind of all thoughts, and preserve the utmost quiet.
16.2 Become aware of the Ten Thousand Things taking shape and becoming active, and see them returning to their source, like flowers growing and flourishing, then returning the root.
16.3 Returning to the root is called Serenity, which will return you to Life. Returning to Life is the Constant. Knowing the constant is called Discernment. Blind, random acts, in ignorance of the Constant, will cause you disaster.
16.4 When you know the eternal you will be open to everything. When you are open to everything you will be impartial. When you become impartial you will be universal. When you have become universal, you will be in accord with heaven. When you are in accord with heaven, you will be in accord with the Road.
16.5 When you are in accord with the Road, you will be eternal and to live free from harm or concern about losing your life, even though your body passes through the Final change; the Road will protect you.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: GOLDEN AGE
17.1 In the Golden Age, the people were barely aware of their Monarchs. In the Silver Age, they praised them with songs. In the Bronze Age, they feared them. By the Iron Age, they despised them.
17.2 As the Monarchs lost self-confidence, so also the people lost confidence in their Monarchs.
17.3 How careful they were, these Lords of the Golden Age, speaking with deliberation, aware of the weight of their world! Thus they accomplished all things with success; and the people took their well-being for granted.
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: MODERN TIMES
18.1 When the Great Road was forgotten, the Sages began to teach Morality and Justice.
18.2 When Cleverness and Strategies were utilized, the Great Hypocrite arose.
18.3 When the six relations fell apart, the Sages taught filial piety and paternal kindness.
18.4 When a Nation’s Monarch becomes confused, loyal ministers abound.
Chapter Ten poses questions and challenges the reader to think. Chapter Eleven describes situations where the absence of substance is more important than illusory physical Matter. Chapter Twelve is about perception of the physical, and how to perceive the True Reality behind the Illusion, using the Inner Mirror from Chapter Ten. Chapter Thirteen wants us to think about Selflessness. Chapter Fourteen hearkens us to follow the invisible thread that leads back to the Tao. Chapter Fifteen talks about the Sages of Old and how they had to conceal their Inner Light. Chapter Sixteen tells us how to meditate and find the Tao for ourselves; it would be good to use for guided meditation. Chapter Seventeen continues the Theme in Chapter Fifteen, and Chapter Eighteen sums up Lao Tze’s theories about the degrading of Civilization and Culture into the state of affairs he had witnessed in his own Time.
This group of chapters does not appear quite as connected as the first nine, but they do have some consistent commonalities. There is a Sense of History, an idea of reclaiming the Past, and hints about how to return to the Tao.
Most of the passages in this section would also make great Affirmations!
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