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Taoist Philosophy - Chapter 99

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Hold On To The Great Image


Offer good things to eat and the wayfarer stays.

Hold on to the Great Image
And the whole world will come to you.
Come to you and suffer no harm;
But rather know great safety and peace.

Peace Through Holding The Tao

“The perfect man goes about unknown in the world, and meets no obstacles,” spoke a disciple to his master. “He steps on fire without feeling its heat, and walks upon great heights without fear. How is he able to do that?”

“That comes from perfect concentration of the soul with Spirit,” replied the Sage. “It belongs entirely in a different order from human cunning and physical courage. Let me tell you. All those which have sound, color and appearance are material things. One material thing cannot be very far from another material thing, and one cannot reach from it to the non-sensuous world. However, things are created out of the formless and return to the changeless. Who holds Tao and pursues its study steadily cannot be hindered by material things. A drunken man falls from a carriage, and though he may be hurt, it is usually not fatal. His bones are the same as those of other men, but he does not suffer the same injuries because his soul is whole. He is neither aware of riding in a carriage, nor of falling from it. Life and death, worries and fears, do not trouble his breast; therefore he meets obstacles without fear. If even he who achieves wholeness of soul through wine can do this, how much easier it is for one who has achieved that wholeness of soul through Nature!

“The Sage takes shelter in Nature; therefore he is above all harm. The avenger does not wreak his vengeance on the sword and shield of his enemy. Even the most spiteful man does not bear a grudge against the falling tile which happens to hit him. The world lives at peace when it follows the Tao and the ravages of war are unknown. Do not develop the nature which is of man, but develop the nature which is of Tao. From the development of that which is of man, harm follows. If the people keep to that which is of Tao persistently and do not neglect that which is of man, they may come near to realizing their purity.

Temper Knowledge With Mildness

The ancients who practiced the Tao strengthened their knowledge by mildness. To strengthen one’s knowledge by mildness means that one realizes one has to live in the material world, but does not depend on the cunning of the mind. When knowledge and the love of mildness strengthen each other, then the peaceable temperament is brought out from man’s nature.

Edited by Marblehead

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