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Heaviness and Lightness

Part 26 of the Tao Teh King for Awakening

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The Solid is the root of the light; the Quiescent is the master of the hasty. Therefore the Sage travels all day yet never leaves his provision-cart. In the midst of honor and glory, he lives leisurely, undisturbed. How can the ruler of a great country make light of his body in the empire (by rushing about)? In light frivolity, the Center is lost; in hasty action, self-mastery is lost.

(Tao Teh King 26)

Human beings habitually live backwards like Merlin. That is, they confuse cause with effect, and continually mistake the order in which things arise. They also confuse things with one another. For thoroughly negative people, peace is war and war is peace, virtue is vice and vice is virtue. So Lao Tzu is going to dispel some of our misperceptions.

The universe is composed of two basic processes: involution and evolution. They are mirror images of one another, exact opposites. For example, the involution process involves moving from formlessness into form, but evolution involves moving from form into formlessness. In this section of the Tao Teh King Lao Tzu is speaking of evolution.

The Solid is the root of the light.

Legge: “Gravity is the root of lightness.” We must first be perfectly “grounded,” defined and stabilized, before we can consciously, intelligently and purposefully begin to refine, expand, and ultimately resolve back into all-pervasive formlessness, into pure consciousness.

The Quiescent is the master of the hasty.

Legge: “Stillness, the ruler of movement.” We cannot act meaningfully until we can be perfectly still within action, identifying with the core of silent, unmoving consciousness that is at the heart of everything.

Therefore the Sage travels all day yet never leaves his provision-cart.

Legge: “Therefore a wise prince, marching the whole day, does not go far from his baggage wagons.” We must never leave the center of our existence, spirit-consciousness, however far we “travel” in our lifespan. For that is the essence of our life, our very existence. To forget our selves in wandering through earthly life is to invite frustration, misery, decay, and death.

In the midst of honor and glory, he lives leisurely, undisturbed.

Legge: “Although he may have brilliant prospects to look at, he quietly remains (in his proper place), indifferent to them.” Unpleasant things at least have the advantage of causing us to withdraw into ourselves in defense and retain our independence and integrity. But pleasant things may draw us outward into identification with them and forgetfulness of our true nature as the Tao. We may literally lose ourselves in them. Great and wise, then, is the one who can live in the midst of glamor and glory, untouched and undisturbed by it.

How can the ruler of a great country make light of his body in the empire (by rushing about)?

Legge: “How should the lord of a myriad chariots carry himself lightly before the kingdom?” Our life sphere is our “kingdom,” but we must not trivialize ourselves by becoming so absorbed in the kingdom that we forget our kingship and forsake our throne. The sage is the absolute opposite of the shallow and trivial people who rush around “living life” to their own detriment.

In light frivolity, the Center is lost.

Legge: “If he does act lightly, he has lost his root (of gravity).” This is a truth that should occupy our concern. Although there are many ills in the world today, perhaps cheapness, shallowness, insubstantiality and triviality are the worst of all. Our “consumer society” is the fruition of such deadly roots.

In hasty action, self-mastery is lost.

Legge: “If he proceed to active movement, he will lose his throne.” Once again we encounter the necessity to act from the still point within so that only the body acts while the mind and spirit remain in perfect stillness. In this way all things can be accomplished within the ever-moving, ever-quiescent Tao.

Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: On Stealing the Light

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Introduction to The Tao Teh King for Awakening

Chapters of The Tao Teh King for Awakening

Preface to The Tao Teh King for Awakening

  1. On the Absolute Tao
  2. The Rise of Relative Opposites
  3. Action Without Deeds
  4. The Character of Tao
  5. Nature
  6. The Spirit of the Valley
  7. Living for Others
  8. Water
  9. The Danger of Overweening Success
  10. Embracing the One
  11. The Utility of Not-Being
  12. The Senses
  13. Praise and Blame
  14. Prehistoric Origins
  15. The Wise Ones of Old
  16. Knowing the Eternal Law
  17. Rulers
  18. The Decline of Tao
  19. Realize the Simple Self
  20. The World and I
  21. Manifestations of Tao
  22. Futility of Contention
  23. Identification with Tao
  24. The Dregs and Tumors of Virtue
  25. The Four Eternal Models
  26. Heaviness and Lightness
  27. On Stealing the Light
  28. Keeping to the Female
  29. Warning Against Interference
  30. Warning Against the Use of Force
  31. Weapons of Evil
  32. Tao is Like the Sea
  33. Knowing Oneself
  34. The Great Tao Flows Everywhere
  35. The Peace of Tao
  36. The Rhythm of Life
  37. World Peace
  38. Degeneration
  39. Unity Through Complements
  40. The Principle of Reversion
  41. Qualities of the Taoist
  42. The Violent Man
  43. The Softest Substance
  44. Be Content
  45. Calm Quietude
  46. Racing Horses
  47. Pursuit of Knowledge
  48. Conquering the World by Inaction
  49. The People’s Hearts
  50. The Preserving of Life
  51. The Mystic Virtue
  52. Stealing the Absolute
  53. Brigandage
  54. The Individual and the State
  55. The Character of the Child
  56. Beyond Honor and Disgrace
  57. The Art of Government
  58. Unobtrusive Government
  59. Be Sparing
  60. Governing a Big Country
  61. Big and Small Countries
  62. The Good Man’s Treasure
  63. Difficult and Easy
  64. Beginning and End
  65. The Grand Harmony
  66. The Lords of the Ravines
  67. The Three Treasures
  68. The Virtue of Not-Contending
  69. Camouflage
  70. They Know Me Not
  71. Sick-Mindedness
  72. On Punishment (1)
  73. On Punishment (2)
  74. On Punishment (3)
  75. On Punishment (4)
  76. Hard and Soft
  77. Bending the Bow
  78. Nothing Weaker than Water
  79. Peace Settlements
  80. The Small Utopia
  81. The Way of Heaven

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