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The Violent Man

Part 42 of the Tao Teh King for Awakening

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Out of Tao, One is born; out of One, Two; out of Two, Three; out of Three, the created universe.

The created universe carries the yin at its back and the yang in front; through the union of the pervading principles it reaches harmony.

To be “orphaned,” “lonely” and “unworthy” is what men hate most. Yet the princes and dukes call themselves by such names. For sometimes things are benefited by being taken away from, and suffer by being added to.

Others have taught this maxim, which I shall teach also: “The violent man shall die a violent death.”

This I shall regard as my spiritual teacher.

(Tao Teh King 42)

Wu: “Tao gave birth to One, One gave birth to Two, Two gave birth to Three, Three gave birth to all the myriad things.”

Tao gave birth to One. The important thing to realize here is that the Tao transcends both unity and diversity, yet is the source of both. In the same way It transcends existence and non-existence. As the Rig Veda says of the Tao (Brahman): “His shadow is immortality” (10:12:2). Although it is true that all things have come from the One, we must keep in mind that the One came from the Tao, the ineffable and inexpressible. There was a time when the One existed only as a potential extension within the Tao, then It emerged from the Tao only to once more return to the Tao. To concentrate on the One to the exclusion of the Tao is profound ignorance.

We find everyone obsessed with unity, duality and trinity, but these are only appearances of the Tao, nothing in themselves. The Tao is all things simultaneously, and at the same time is No Thing. Of course we do not understand it. Only when we merge with the Tao will misunderstanding cease.

One gave birth to Two. Oneness is impossible in relative existence; there must always be two. So the moment the One emerges from the Tao It splits in two and becomes the Duality which so absorbs our attention from life to life.

Two gave birth to Three. In the eternal moment in which the One divides into Two, a Third manifests. In other words, the One evolves into Two and the Two instantly evolve into Three. In a Christian perspective we would say that the Transcendent Absolute, the Father, manifests the Son who immediately manifests as Son and Holy Spirit.

Three gave birth to all the myriad things. All that exists in relativity is a manifestation of the Absolute extended into the Three, the Trinity. Everything partakes of the essential being of the Trinity and so are reflections of the Trinity. The physical is a revelation of the metaphysical.

The created universe carries the yin at its back and the yang in front; through the union of the pervading principles it reaches harmony.

Wu: “All the myriad things carry the Yin on their backs and hold the Yang in their embrace, deriving their vital harmony from the proper blending of the two vital Breaths.” Byrn: “All things carry Yin yet embrace Yang. They blend their life breaths in order to produce harmony.”

Yin and yang can have many different meanings in more than one Chinese school of thought. In this instance fortunately it is simple. Yin is the force which is diffuse, unfocused and tending to formlessness. It is the basic condition of the universal energies. Yang is the force which is cohesive and focused, tending to solidity and form. The entire range of relative existence embraces both of these seemingly contradictory forces and everything moves back and forth between these two modes of manifestation.

All the myriad things carry the Yin on their backs and hold the Yang in their embrace,…. Yin is the unseen basis of all things and remains their ground into which they are always tending to return, although they always show their yang side, the only side with which we can ordinarily interact. So the formless is always at the back of the form. Yin and yang are present wherever we may be.

…deriving their vital harmony from the proper blending of the two vital Breaths. Yin and Yang are the breath streams of the ever-moving universe, the inhalation and exhalation of the Tao, known to the yogis as prana and apana. The predominance of one or the other determines how we perceive them and how they affect us, at least potentially. Nothing in our environment is either purely one or the other, but all are a combination of yin and yang. There really is nothing but yin and yang, which means there really is nothing but the Tao.

To be “orphaned,” “lonely” and “unworthy” is what men hate most. Yet the princes and dukes call themselves by such names. For sometimes things are benefited by being taken away from, and suffer by being added to. Wu: “What is more loathed by men than to be ‘helpless,’ ‘little,’ and ‘worthless’? And yet these are the very names the princes and barons call themselves. Truly, one may gain by losing; And one may lose by gaining.”

In section thirty-nine we were told that since the nobility depend upon the common people they give themselves such epithets to make the people think they are somehow like them or are aware that they could become so easily. It is of course a pathetic affectation, like all such manipulative ploys. But here another side is pointed out: the awareness of even the exalted that Heaven, the Tao, may change their status into one undesired, but that it can be to their own benefit. And of course Lao Tzu is in this way pointing out that all men can be benefited by losing and harmed by gaining.

Many have at first been pained by loss, only to find that the loss opened the way to greater gain. Some people find that their losing gave them freedom they could never have otherwise had. That is why kings have renounced their thrones and princes have fled them. Money and possessions not only often bring misery and frustration, they can destroy spiritual life.

I knew a man who became a fervent yogi. Time went on, and things got better and better for him. Then one day a relative died and left him an apartment house. After a while he had three more apartment houses, but had along the way totally abandoned his search for God. His misery was great, but the world had entered his heart and there was no hope of his turning back in this lifetime.

Others have taught this maxim, which I shall teach also: “The violent man shall die a violent death.” This I shall regard as my spiritual teacher.

Wu: “What another has taught let me repeat: ‘A man of violence will come to a violent end.’ Whoever said this can be my teacher and my father.” Violence is more than physical action, and this maxim includes all forms, inner and outer. Jesus simply said: “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matthew 26:52).

Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: The Softest Substance

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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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