Thursday, June 24, 2021

Tao Te Ching (Book Notes)

 One of the books that was recommended for the photography class I took earlier this spring was Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell. This is a new English version of the Tao Te Ching written by Lao-tzu.

There were some parts that resonated with me. I've noted them below:

- In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. (8) 

- Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity. (9)

- We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move. We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable. We work with being, but non-being is what we use. (11)

Horse and buggy in southeast Minnesota.

- When the Master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists. Next best is a leader who is loved. Next, one who is feared. The worst is one who is despised. (17)

- Express yourself completely, then keep quiet. Be like the forces of nature: when it blows, there is only wind; when it rains, there is only rain; when the clouds pass, the sun shines through. (23)

- He who stands on tiptoe doesn't stand firm. He who rushes ahead doesn't go far. He who tries to shine dims his own light. He who defines himself can't know who he really is. He who has power over others can't empower himself. He who clings to his work will create nothing that endures. (24)

- Thus the Master travels all day without leaving home. However splendid the views, she stays serenely in herself. If you let yourself be blown to and fro, you lose touch with your root. (26) 

- A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving. A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants. (27)

My mom, sister, and me on vacation in the late 1960s.

- Weapons are the tools of violence; all decent men detest them. (31)

- Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich. If you stay in the center and embrace death with your whole heart, you will endure forever. (33)

- When there is no desire, all things are at peace. (37)

- In harmony with the Tao, the sky is clear and spacious, the earth is solid and full, all creatures flourish together, content wit hthe way they are, endlessly repeating themselves, endlessly renewed. When man interferes with the Tao, the sky becomes filthy, the earth becomes depleted, the equilibrium crumbles, creates become extinct. (39)

- Ordinary men hate solitude. But the Master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realizing he is one with the whole universe. (42)

- I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world. (67)

Sophia putting one of many scarves out for someone who is cold to take.

- The best leader follows the will of the people. [This embodies] the virtue of non-competition. (68)

- Men are born soft and supple; dead, they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail. (76)

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