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World Peace

Part 37 of the Tao Teh King for Awakening

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The Tao never “does,” yet through it everything is done.

If princes and dukes can keep the Tao, the world will of its own accord be reformed.

When reformed and rising to action, let it be restrained by the Nameless pristine simplicity.

The Nameless pristine simplicity is stripped of desire (for contention).

By stripping of desire quiescence is achieved, and the world arrives at peace of its own accord.

(Tao Teh King 37).

Mabry: “The Tao never ‘acts’ Yet nothing is left undone.

“If governments and leaders would keep It all things would of their own accord be transformed. Should desires arise from transformation I shall influence them through silent simplicity. Silent simplicity involves being free from desires.

“When you are without desire you are content And all the World is at peace.”

The Tao never “does,” yet through it everything is done.

This is not contradictory as it seems at first sight. Rather, it is an indication that the Tao exists in a realm completely transcending that in which we presently find ourselves. The Tao is the Source of that relative state in which action and non-action are possible, but does not engage in either.

If princes and dukes can keep the Tao, the world will of its own accord be reformed.

At the time of Lao Tzu China was ruled by monarchs and aristocracy, but this applies to modern forms of government: if those who administer the government can maintain awareness of the Tao and conformity to Its nature, then everything else in society will be spontaneously corrected and made perfect. Do we think that Lao Tzu believed this would be done? If he did, why did he leave “the world” never to be heard from again? Yet he left behind this statement. I would speculate that although he knew there would be no mass adoption of the Tao in public life, this statement of his could inspire individual persons in public office to do their best to embody the Tao and their area of function at least would be reformed. Looking at the mess of the world and saying things are hopeless is not wisdom, for each one of us can work on straightening ourselves out, and that will benefit the world around us. In fact, we need not be anything official at all: just living our daily lives according to the wisdom of the Tao.

When reformed and rising to action, let it be restrained by the Nameless pristine simplicity.

Presently there is a quality of perversity in all aspects of relative existence. One manifestation is the destructive nature of success and attainment. The moment something is gained the possibility of its loss begins to arise and cloud our possession of it. Also from that first moment there is the necessity to maintain or hold onto it and its preservation from erosion and dissolution. So “happiness” breeds anxiety, fear, pain and grief. Production of anything is the beginning of its destruction. Suffering never stops, it just changes in character and intensity, circling us like a wolf pack bent on attack.

Therefore Lao Tzu tells us that when any aspect of life does become reformed there is the very real danger that it will develop into yet another labyrinth of injustice and incompetence. This is because human beings have always thought that More Is Better, and therefore elaborated blessed simplicity into the curse of complexity that either cannot be maintained or will morph into something utterly alien from the original intentions. Nothing and no one is immune to this inherent virus.

The only preventive for this is to keep to the primal simplicity of the Tao at all steps and stages along the way of its establishment. This is not a matter of exterior regulation and direction through rules and authority, but of the continuous cultivation of the consciousness of Tao. There is no other means to keep the reform from becoming deformed.

The Nameless pristine simplicity is stripped of desire. Maintaining desirelessness while actively engaged in improvement is the only solution, for the Tao is dispelled by desire in any form. This may seem an impossible postulation, little more than a frustrating chase of a dog for its own tail, but it is not. Again, the Bhagavad Gita clearly and fully lays out the way to fulfill Lao Tzu’s counsels. It approaches the matter from every possible aspect and clarifies both the situation and its correction. Meditation is always the primary element.

By stripping of desire quiescence is achieved, and the world arrives at peace of its own accord. I remember when as a child I heard a man speaking of a profound spiritual awakening he had experienced as a young man. “The world around me was new, the people were new, everything I saw was new… I was new!” The last clause is the key: everything was changed because he was changed. Or rather, it was not changed, he just saw it differently in a level of higher consciousness. That is why Sri Ramakrishna said that this ocean of sorrow we call the world is converted into a bazaar of joy when we awaken into the highest awareness that itself is God.

When our consciousness is changed, then everything is changed, both in the way we perceive it and in its subsequent unfoldment, for the world is really a sounding-board that reveals our inner status by changing to reflect it. That is why wild animals become tame in the presence of those that have attained the Tao. For the Tao is peace, harmony and clarity, and therefore the absence of desire.

Again we have to realize that this can only be achieved by the individual through his own effort, even if a group of people are engaged in the same aspiration and activity. Everything without exception is an individual matter. All our work must be on ourselves; then the world around us will be improved as we improve. Only the inside can change the outside.

Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: Degeneration

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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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