Tao Te Ching One and Fifty-Three

The meaning of the first verse of the Tao Te Ching greatly manifest the simplicity of the complexity of Tao. The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao because whenever something can be expressed in words or be symbolized through language, it ceases to be eternal. One is reminded of Hesses Siddhartha, who taught his friend Govinda that wisdom is incommunicable. True wisdom cannot find a word worthy enough to describe it the mystery of wisdom is that once acquired, it can never be expressed totally. Once an idea is symbolized through language, it already carries with it the prejudice of usage and becomes a subject to human thought. In other words, language subjugates ideas which in turn becomes a slave to human obsession over semantics. When an idea becomes a victim of evolution, that is when it becomes a subject to definition, re-definition, and re-evaluation, it ceases to become eternal. The idea becomes a simple thought, easily dissected by the rationality of the human being.
Consider if the idea is the Tao, and if this idea becomes a simple thought. The Tao can then be named, that is it can be called into something elsethe name becomes its label, and the label can become into ten thousand things through the process of definition, re-definition, and re-evaluation. The named cannot be eternal when it becomes a subject of change. That which is transformed through symbols and language resides in the world of manifestations and flows forth into the flux of material reality. A human being full of desire only see these manifestations and neglect to see the mysteryneglect to see the Tao.
The Tao is the substance of all of reality, and the manifestation of it is its form. Understanding the Tao makes one understand that in the beginning it was not even a word, for no word is the beginning of heaven and earth no substance are expressible into words and still retain its eternal purity. When one ceases to be a slave of ones own desires, one can see the Taoone can see the mystery. When one desires, one only sees the manifestations of the Tao and not the Tao itself. It is as if desires make men blind from seeing the Tao. Words and desires dwell in the world of change and transformation, for manifestations are only temporal and not eternal. This is the simplicity of the Tao man must see it to understand the world and the universe. But this is not just what the Tao is all about.
The gate to all mystery however is not in knowing that no words can encapsulate the Tao or in acknowledging that desires can blind man from the Tao. To really see and understand the Tao, one must know that the absolute and the temporal came from it. These two spring from the same source but differ in namethis is the mystery of the Tao that it is a thing-in-itself in the same way as it is the manifestation of itself. Simplicity becomes complexity, without one there can be no other without that which is eternal, there can be nothing of that which is temporal and vice versa. It is darkness within darkness for the understanding of the Tao must begin with a mystery and the first verse is the gate to all mystery.
   The first verse already implied that the universe, or reality or whatever one can call it, must be seen as a balance of all things (for such is the way of the Tao) darkness and light, yin and yang, absolute and temporal, named and unnamed, full of desire and no desire. Verse fifty-three elaborates the Tao by giving practical examples, which by far may be incomprehensible to a mind so much intoxicated by the conventions and dichotomy of morality in western civilization, especially that of the Judeo-Christian tradition of rejecting darkness and accepting the light the failure of both leads one to hell. The way of Tao accepts the presence of both, maintains it, and preserves it more like saying that one cannot qualify what is good if one does not know what is evil, to achieve balance both must exist (and both came from Tao).
Take as an example the first part of verse fifty-three despite ones sincerest effort to obey the norms and conventions of society, it cannot be denied that humanity do have an affinity for disobedience. In Chinese society, it is easier to follow social norms because it is through it that one can have a sense of security. One can walk on the main road without nothing else to fear than the fear of straying from it. Security makes life easy to live and keeping to the main road is easy. But how much of a life can it be if it is only lived for comfort and security People always love to be sidetracked because life is not purely about obeying rules and following traditions. Sometimes, it is when one is sidetracked that one can feel the rush of life, that one can see Tao. One must balance both  obedience and disobedience in order to understand Tao.
The next part pertains the balancing within society. There is no problem in getting rich and living a luxurious life, but if such a life causes the fields to be full of weeds and the granaries bare, then such a life causes unbalance. When the court is arrayed in splendor and some wear gorgeous clothes while others carry sharp swords and still others indulge themselves with food and drink, whereas the fields are full of weeds, and the granaries are bare there is clearly an injustice (caused by the unbalance). Desire makes man have more possessions than they can use and it can robbed other men of their daily lives. Barons wealth and desire  transformed them into, but they are not just barons they are robber barons. Though rulers and governments were hailed by the people as above them, they should not abuse their power to rob the people of the things the people need to survive. The way of Tao is balance, temperance, and control.  


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