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The Principle of Reversion

Part 40 of the Tao Teh King for Awakening

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Reversion is the action of Tao.
Gentleness is the function of Tao.
The things of this world come from Being,
And Being (comes) from Non-being.

(Tao Teh King 40)

Reversion is the action of Tao.

Wu: “The movement of the Tao consists in Returning.”

Byrn: “All movement returns to the Tao.”

A serpent swallowing its own tail is an ancient symbol of the continual cycle of return in existence: perpetual creation and dissolution, projection and withdrawal. So it would be a mistake to think that Lao Tzu means only the return of the form into the formless. Rather, he means the return into the formless followed by the return from the formless into form. Because the Tao is One at all times, this Unity moves in perpetual outward/inward movement. It is like the pendulum of a clock. It swings from one side to another, yet is itself always exactly the same. So the Tao is ever the same yet ever-changing because that is Its nature. This is one instance in which the question “Why?” is only answered by “Because.”

Gentleness is the function of Tao.

Wu: “The use of the Tao consists in softness.” Feng and English: “Yielding is the way of the Tao.” Since the Tao is ever in a process of change, in the same way the knower of the Tao is ever flexible, ever able to change, to evolve, yet always established at the unmoving, unchanging center that is the Tao.

The things of this world come from Being, and Being (comes) from Non-being.

Creation and all it contains come from the state that is manifestation, from the condition known in India as “the Day of Brahma.” But that state arises from non-manifestation known as “the Night of Brahma.” Again, we have a perpetual cycle, a movement between manifest and unmanifest. Yet, behind it all is That which transcends all these dualities: the Tao.

Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: Qualities of the Taoist

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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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