Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

In passage one, the invisible force believed by Taoist Chinese to be responsible for everything in the universe is described.  The Taoists believe that everything is composed of two polar opposites Yin (moon) and Yang (sun) just like females and males.  Yin-Yang is not only the force that creates life it is also the Way to make life easier.

In ancient China, many amateurs have tried to explain what the Tao is, but they always fail to completely and precisely explain it.  Even today, some people try to explain it as gravity, space and time.  However, as line 1 says, The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.  No matter how hard people try, they can never completely explain it, just like the impossibility of linking Quantum Theory with Einsteins Relativity.

The polar opposites are then described in line 2 and 3.  Something that can be named is artificial and mortal.  It is only the form whereas, something that cannot be named is real and immortal.  It is the real substance of the universe, and this describes the eternal Tao.  In line 4, the named forms are everything that we see or know male, female, white, black, sun, moon, etc.

The polar opposites are described again in line 5 and 6.  People who have many wants or needs can only see the forms, such as the shape of a sensuous woman, but unemotional scholars can see true character and substance.

The last few lines describe the mystery behind the family or wholeness of polar opposites.  Polar opposites such as good and evil are parts of the same whole.  Yet for the normal person, it cant be possible because it is contradictory.  This appears as darkness, as it says. Darkness within darknessan inexplicable mystery for the ignorant.  But it is also the gate to all mystery.  Scholars who understand this will know everything because they know, for instance, that men and women need each other, or you cant have a leader without followers.

Passage 53
This passage talks about balance, remaining in the center, and the consequences of imbalance.  The main road is the center or balance, and this is the best path to take.  Extreme forms of government, for example, like communism at the Left or pure capitalism at the Right lead to suffering.  A balance between the two, which is what China is currently doing, is best.  But every now and then, people are sidetracked or tempted to move toward the Left or Right.

The next paragraph shows the effects of imbalance.  When government officials for example live in luxury, farmers live in misery.  As the passage says, When the court is arrayed in splendor, the fields are full of weeds, and the granaries are bare.  When the Tao leans too much to the Left or leans too much to the Right, it creates Yin-Yang imbalance.  It is like a martial artist like Bruce Lee who uses his Taoist kung-fu skills just to show off.  In the same way, rich people or government officials who show off their wealth, who have strong military policies, who lust for the pleasures of living, and who are greedy, are people who take away other peoples happiness by creating a huge imbalance in the force. As the passage says, Some wear gorgeous clothes, carry sharp swords, and indulge themselves with food and drink they have more possessions than they can use. They are robber barons.  This is why many Chinese, especially in the mainland, usually try to keep a low-profile, wear simple clothes and do not indulge in too many luxuries.

This is not the Way to live a contented life where everyone, from both polaritiesrich and poor, Republicans and Democrats, or capitalists and socialistsare contented.  The Tao, just like Jackie Chan, seeks balance between the polarities, and it is only through the right balance of Yin and Yang (which is very difficult to practically accomplish) can problems, such as the current US Great Recession, be solved.


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