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Realize the Simple Self

Part 19 of the Tao Teh King for Awakening

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Banish “wisdom,” discard “knowledge,” and the people shall profit a hundredfold. Banish “humanity,” discard “justice,” and the people shall recover love of their kin. Banish cunning, discard “utility,” and the thieves and brigands shall disappear. As these three touch the externals and are inadequate, the people have need of what they can depend upon:

Reveal thy simple self,

Embrace thy original nature,

Check thy selfishness,

Curtail thy desires.

(Tao Teh King 19).

The Taoists were very outspoken in their opinion of Confucius and Confucianism as nothing more than busybodies that had ruined society by advocating veneer rather than solid substance. Jesus spoke of this as “the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 5:20). Neither he nor the Taoists were listened to very much. He withdrew to India and the Taoists to solitary places in the countryside. It is wisdom to know when nobody really wants to hear or think about what you have to say, and greater wisdom when you consequently go away and keep silent.

So why did Lao Tzu say what he did in the Tao Teh King? Because he was literally leaving society forever, and when the gatekeeper asked him to write down his insights he did so, not with any intention that people would heed and reform society, but so the few that really had ears to hear and a brain to comprehend would reform themselves and be at peace. For this reason we must not think of Taoism as a rival of Confucianism, having the wish to reform others. Taoism is a marvelously solitary and independent approach to cultivation of inner worth.

Once a man came to Swami Keshabananda (written about in Autobiography of a Yogi) and begged him to cure his son who was dying. The great yogi told him: “I will tell you how to cure your son yourself, but you will not do it and he will die.” And so it was. In the same way Lao Tzu is explaining how society can be corrected, knowing full well that it will never be done. But wise and blessed is he who applies Lao Tzu’s words to himself and his own mode of life. So let us consider them in that context, for we are each one of us little “kingdoms” that need correction.

Banish ‘wisdom,’ discard ‘knowledge,’ and the people shall profit a hundredfold.

Lao Tzu is speaking of intellectual, spoon-fed “wisdom” and “knowledge” both social and religious that have been put into our heads from various sources that have in no way proved the validity of that which they have imposed on us. It is very difficult for us to sweep away all the things we have been told from childhood, because it means rejection of the authority or trustworthiness of those that crammed them into our heads. Moreover, it is much easier for the mentally and morally lazy to accept the clichés society and religion run on, and thus avoid any conflict or the pain of straining the brain to figure out what is really wisdom and knowledge. But those who do toss aside mere words and seek experience of reality shall “profit a hundredfold.”

Banish ‘humanity,’ discard ‘justice,’ and the people shall recover love of their kin.

Again, Lao Tzu is speaking of artificial rules of thought and behavior that are not rooted in sincere good will but in a desire to be thought humane and just. A great deal of inhumanity and injustice are perpetrated under the accepted clichés of society and religion, all “for the greater good” they say.

Banish cunning, discard ‘utility,’ and the thieves and brigands shall disappear.

“People are so skillful in their ignorance,” Yogananda used to say. People can be very creative in justifying their foolishness and in reasoning themselves out of good sense. They are equally skilled in demonstrating how “practical” and “beneficial” their desires and whims are. “It is all for the best” rarely is even good, much less best. This is used in conforming to wrong on many levels, especially social, rather than rejecting the false and holding to the real and consequently getting censured and even in trouble with “them.” It is sad but true that we are usually ourselves the thieves and brigands that plunder our spiritual treasure of divine potential.

As these three touch the externals and are inadequate, the people have need of what they can depend upon.

These three rules, though of great value, yet lack the supreme value because they deal with our response to external factors, leaving aside internal matters. Thus they are inadequate, because we must build our life structure on bedrock reality to be secure and at peace. So Lao Tzu gives us four rules to ensure this.

Reveal thy simple self.

We must put ourselves in touch with our essential being, really come to know our Self by removing the veils that hide it. The Self being interior in nature, this requires an interior life: in other words, meditation. And our meditation practice should be putting us in touch with the Self immediately, not in some far away time. It will not give us instant and total enlightenment, but it should certainly begin the process right away. We should come out of our first meditation having touched at least the periphery of our Self, and things should increase from there. We must not stop until the Self is fully revealed (realized). (I suggest you read Soham Yoga, the Yoga of the Self for information on meditation that does what I have just described.)

Embrace thy original nature.

We must not just experience the Self, we must “embrace” it by making it manifest in our entire life, by establishing ourselves in Self-knowledge outside meditation as well as in meditation. We must live out what we perceive inwardly, and if our inner experience is real, it will be natural and easy.

Check thy selfishness.

Do not pay attention to the ego; just forget it. Drop it and all egotism will vanish in the newly-revealed Self. Be intent on that eternal reality and the ego and its delusive realm will simply vanish.

Curtail thy desires.

Again, do this by being satisfied and fulfilled in the Self. Desire the Self: that will end all desires.

Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: The World and I

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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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