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To: Bridge-L@Home.Ease.LSoft.Com From: Jelke Wispelwey
Subject: [NondualitySalon] Tao Te Ching Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 22:35:17 -0600 Hi All, Here is a modern, rhymed version of the Tao Te Ching. Enjoy! Book of Tao 1. Words and names are not the way They can't define the absolute It's better that you look within Hold your tongue and just be mute Look within and look out too You will not find a separation Out there you see appearance Within you see origination Look within with wonder At emptiness and bliss For wonder names totality Where nothing is amiss The space within is always there If you can moderate desire A place of utter emptiness And possibility entire 2. Where beautiful and ugly Do not stand in opposition Where life and death or yes and no Do not make a contradiction Can you see the vacant place Where good and bad and sad and merry Disappear forevermore? Where nothing ever is contrary So stay within the emptiness Unless you rise you never fall Accepting that which comes your way You are forever all in all 3. If you love accumulation Gain and increase every day Thieves and robbers will be waiting Just to take it all away Best to be so empty headed That it seems you've lost it all You will know youíre on the way Though others say you're at a stall 4. This nothingness is like a well Always giving, never taking And all claims to origin Neither wanting or forsaking You know it's ever present You find it where you have no face It is a wondrous blessing Original amazing grace 5. This emptiness is truly void And infinitely capacious It holds whatever comes its way Eternally tenacious Can you take whatever comes? Though judgment calls it bad and good Seeing is acceptance And nothing to be understood 6. Complete and full awareness Is like an open valley Of endless generation That doesn't reach finale It is a simple presence It's a nothing you can see You'll find it right at center Wherever you may be 7. This presence is unlimited Because it wasn't ever born And it will not be perishing Will never give you cause to mourn It truly wants for nothing It has no wishes of its own It is the one and only Eternally alone It holds itself in vacancy It has no yearning to advance Remaining in simplicity It merely witnesses the dance The seer will remain behind And never yearns for leaving home Just living in the here and now Prefers to stay unknown 8. The seer flows like water Lying low along the way Nourishing whatever comes To be held on display The seer keeps to simple ways And therefore is content When joy or sorrow comes along To give complete ascent If you can clearly be yourself And never rise to interfere Everyone will cherish you And always hold you dear 9. Don't fill a bowl Till it's more than full Or sharpen a blade Till it must go dull Don't pile up treasure That comes at great cost Approval and riches Are easily lost Can you only do What's really needed Then stop and withdraw When your task is completed? 10. Can you see as a child sees And keep the simple vision? See the inner oneness With absolute precision Hold all things in your embrace The entire world is in your care Let things be just as they are Extend acceptance everywhere Let go all need to comprehend The truth is here where all behold Their infinite capacity To welcome and enfold 11. The empty hub at center Allows a wheel to roll The vacancy within defines The function of a bowl The openness within a house Provides location to reside The open space that is my heart Is where ten thousand things abide 12. Too much sound can make you deaf Too many colors leave you blind Can you let desire die down And not leave emptiness behind? Wanting things can drive you mad And acquisition makes you poor See that you are everything And leave off wanting more 13. Fame and shame are equal And so are gain and loss It isn't very difficult To get this point across Having fame you know that you Are terrified to lose it Making gain you always fear That others will abuse it Can you see that you're not like Your image or reflection? Just see you are totality By looking in your own direction The one who is not limited Accepts whatever comes or goes And cares for everything around On opening and close 14. When you look, it isn't there Listen and you cannot hear it It seems to be beyond your reach Because you are so near it This single source of everything Appears to be an empty image Though it cannot be understood You can see its naked visage Follow it to nothingness Approach it where you have no face >From nowhere to infinity This vacant image leaves no trace >From never to eternity This naked face is what you are An empty, vacant, open door Forevermore ajar 15. Those of old who knew the way To origin and source within Have seen the place where wholeness And infinity begin Alert as one on a frozen stream Or one who watches for the foe Deferential as a guest And generous as melting snow Plain as an uncarved block of wood Expansive as a vale Transparent just like water Whose clarity will never fail Can you keep yourself so still That muddy water clears? And wait until right action Spontaneously appears? 16. See that you are emptiness Always quiet and at peace You're in the place where all begins The space where all things cease All things arise and have their day And then go back to the single source Returning to serenity With no regret and no remorse When you see the source within You only give assent You see you're everlasting And eternally omnificent 17. It's best if you are barely known The lesser state is being praised Worse is being hated Just stay empty and amazed Only do what must be done And see you are the one alone When you finish all will say We did this on our own 18. Goodness and compliance Came when people lost the way Spontaneity declined Hypocrisy was here to stay 19. Banish learned discourse And everyone will be content Eliminate propriety Increase astonishment Stay away from fraud and swindle Everyone is bound to gain You really have it all you know There is no basis to complain Can you see your empty core? It isn't missing, gone or hidden Just let go of neediness And it will come unbidden 20. You need not give a yes or no Such distinctions matter little Keep your vision open And be at center noncommittal See that it's ridiculous To seek success and fear to fail To ever want what others want To think you always must prevail Other people look so bright I am dark and void and null Others are so very sharp While I alone am dull Others are so purposeful Only I don't understand Aimless, drifting, weak and dumb Uninteresting and bland I see I'm different from the rest For I take in what's plainly shown And I take my sustenance Only from the great unknown 21. Seeming utter emptiness Quite impossible to touch Yet it contains all images And likenesses and such Appearing total darkness Yet you see that it is right To stay with its obscurity The only origin of light This ever present openness At center and within Can be seen just anytime You look inside again 22. Overcome by giving up See that you are really nil Look into your emptiness If you want to have your fill Be satisfied with little Just content with what you need If you are always wanting more You surely are consumed by greed Abide in your simplicity Though you are not on display See all things are shining bright In marvelous array If you do not boast or brag Everyone will hold you high If you do not argue You will prevail thereby Only see you are complete And all things have come to you Overcome by giving up All except your inner view 23. Say your piece and then be still Like nature in a storm That rains and blows and ceases And sees the sun reborn Open to the inward view You are at one with all existence There's nothing blocking up the way Or putting up resistance If youíre at home with nothingness And simply trust what comes about Youíll find that all is in its place And you are left without a doubt 24. Who stands on tiptoe topples Who runs ahead soon looses speed Who goes on show is hidden Who pushes far gives up the lead Donít depart from what is given The ever present here and now Donít overreach and donít oppose Invite, admire and allow 25. Before creation did occur This blessed emptiness was here Alone forever and at peace The source of all that does appear Eternally unchanging Forever lacking limit This void is all potential The everlasting ultimate It flows through all existence And then returns to source It's ever at your center Your only true recourse This way begins the universe The earth and humankind Following this greatest way You can never be defined 26. The naked center doesnít change Its quietude is absolute Yet from it spring all things that move This bare awareness is the root Can you go about all day And never leave your true abode No matter how enticing are The splendors of the road? Donít think that you can run around And act a perfect fool Just see that you are at the eye Of natureís whirlpool 27. Can you walk and leave no tracks? Make no errors when you talk? Count without a tally? Secure a door without a lock? You can abandon no one Thereís nothing you can leave behind In you there are no limits You are forever unconfined What happens is spontaneous Good and bad are just the same In origin identical Beyond both praise and blame 28. Know the strong but keep the weak The whole wide world is born in you Youíll see just what a child sees A vast and comprehensive view Know the light but keep the dark And watch ten thousand things emerge In you they have their residence Where time and space converge Know the high but keep the low Humility will honor you Attend to your vacuity Thereís nothing else to do Be like an uncarved block of wood Donít squander your potential Or overlook your vacant core Nothing else is so essential 29. Do you want to change the world? You cannot possibly succeed The given cannot be improved On this the seers are agreed At times you find youíre out in front At other times you fall behind Sometimes youíre all commotion But afterwards you must unwind When all around is turmoil Just stay with the serene You are the quiet center Of the ever changing scene Can you see things as they are And let them be all on their own? Remain in pure awareness You never need to stray from home 30. There is an ancient way to lead That just allows and does not force For what goes out will come around And violence will lead to wars The one who sees completes a task And stops when it is done Seeing all is on its own And not controlled by anyone The seer sees that all is well And does not seem to need to please Just gives acceptance everywhere Puts everyone at ease 31. Weapons lead to violence Which everyone despises Avoid them altogether Allow no compromises If use of weapons has to be When enemies just leave no choice Use them but reluctantly In victory you donít rejoice Ascendancy brings sorrow And triumph doesnít carry pleasure It severs you from wholeness And robs you of your real treasure Victory is like a funeral Where loss of life must make you sad For putting other people down Never ought to make you glad 32. Awareness is not limited Itís like an uncarved block of wood With infinite potential Beyond all usefulness for good If leaders could stay centered In awareness pure and plain This world would be as nourishing As natureís gentle rain Everyone would be at peace And always living in the whole Opposition and division Could never tale their toll 33. It may be said that you are wise To see yourself as others do But you are wiser still to see >From your own central point of view Then you see you have it all The riches that are always here Belong to you completely Because your vision is so clear 34. The empty centerís everywhere It flows both left and right It brings to pass ten thousand things And yet it never leaves your sight It welcomes everything around On nothing does it make a claim Itís in the heart of each and all This ultimate without a name Some can see that it is great And some will say that itís obscure It is your real identity Simplicity that will endure 35. Totality will be with you If you can see the simple presence Although thereís danger all around You give complete acceptance Good music, food and company Are welcome when youíre traveling The inner truth seems tasteless Yet it produces everything You look and you see nothing You listen and hear silence Itís use is inexhaustible Itís ever worthy of reliance 36. You cannot be diminished Unless youíve been inflated You cannot be defeated Unless youíve been elated You cannot be belittled Unless youíve been esteemed Unless youíre wholly missing You cannot be redeemed The soft and slow can overcome The rigid and the hard and fast Just see your inner emptiness For nothing else is made to last 37. Only see youíre doing nothing Yet not a thing is left undone For all things happen on their own In you who are the all in one If leaders could be centered All ten thousand things would thrive By seeing what is natural All creation comes alive Everyone would be content With living simply every day Desires would be moderate And peace would be the only way Book of Te 38. You neednít search for power You already have it all To seek outside your empty core Is looking for a fall The seer doesnít do a thing But sees that all is finished Foolish people run about And leave totality diminished Goodness must be doing And justice never is complete Propriety canít satisfy Obedience is forced defeat When totality is lost Goodness comes to take its place Followed by propriety Bewilderment and end of grace The seer sees periphery But also sees the open heart And dwells forever in the whole Without abandoning the part 39. If you stay with clear awareness The sky is open, pure and spacious The earth is firm and friendly too Activity is efficacious But depart from clarity The purest sky is just a part The earth is so divided Felicity must flee your heart The seer knows humility Doesnít argue or cajole Doesnít discard anything Or mutilate the whole The seer doesnít show at all Doesnít sparkle like a jewel The seerís vast immensity Is truly less than minuscule 40. All is born of emptiness Manifests and has its day Then yields and surrenders Returns and dies away 41. When seers see their nothingness They never let it out of sight But others see it now and then And miss out on its true delight Still others only laugh it off And look at it with ridicule It wouldnít be the real truth If it werenít laughed at by the fool The brightest way seems darkness Just going on seems like retreat The simple way seems difficult Capacity seems like defeat Clarity can seem obscure And love seem not to care Totality seems not enough And truth can seem to err Awareness doesnít have a name To all appearances is null Yet it produces everything And so this empty place is full 42. Awareness comes from nothingness So all can see itís plainly one Contains all opposition Ten thousand things are now begun And all these things embrace the void And face the manifest Achieving thus true harmony They find existence truly blessed No one wants to be considered Empty and alone Yet thatís exactly what the seers Say they have been shown And violence is not the way I give you this instruction Those who live by violence Will bring about their own destruction 43. Overcome by yielding The weak can overcome the strong For only absence can provide The place where everything belongs And thus it is that I can see The worthiness of not contending Yet few will ever comprehend The potency of bending 44. Which of these means more to you Integrity or reputation? Are gain and loss not equally Responsible for limitation? Everything that you possess Is surely transitory Just be pleased with emptiness And witness inner bliss and glory You know that your are always safe If only you can be contented With awareness as capacity And with all that is presented 45. Wholeness seems like imperfection Yet its usefulness is sure Fullness seems quite empty But it is certain to endure True straightness can seem twisted True wisdom does not seem to know Great eloquence seems halting Great darkness seems to be aglow Can you see that emptiness Contains all oppositions? Like hot and cold and fast and slow? All differences and all conditions? 46. When the absolute is cherished Horses graze on the open green When the absolute is lost War horses soon come on the scene No calamity exceeds desire And always wanting more Can you not see you have enough And live in plenitude galore? 47. No need to go outside a door To see totality Or look out of a window To see this which will always be Going out you go astray At home and center all is one The seer doesnít have to do To see that everything is done 48. In going after learning Somethingís added every day For resting in the ultimate Everything must drop away Day by day do less and less Until nothingness is seen All occurs quite on its own A doer need not intervene Allow all things to run their course If you want to be proficient Make a fuss and bother And existence will be insufficient 49. The seer doesnít own a thought For thoughts do not reside within Thoughts concern ten thousand things And thatís the way itís always been The seer doesnít rush to judge And treats all people well Considers no one good or bad Attracts but never does repel The seer trusts things as they are And takes all people at their word Giving trust to everyone His faithfulness will be returned The seer turns your view around So you can never be beguiled And gives you back all that you lost The vision of a little child 50. Between the time when they are born And the time that they will die Three in ten will follow life Three others only will deny Three others are so casual They live as though theyíre passing through But one remains who clearly sees Thereís not a single thing to do Can you be like the one who sees The world emerging on its own? Whatís needed for each moment Arises from the great unknown This one doesnít have a fear Of weaponry or wild beast These enemies canít harm the one Whose separate self is long deceased 51. Everything arises >From this total emptiness Is nourished and completed And finds existence blessed All things come from nothingness Are cared for by existence Which freely gives what is required For abundance and subsistence Existence does not make a claim On what it has created It nourishes and serves and leads Is honored and appreciated 52. All things emerge from nullity >From natureís inner origin Of everything that manifests And is contained therein Stay in touch with origin Thereís not a thing you need deny Seeing your totality You will not fear to die Do not be in haste to speak And always guard the senses You will find your heart at peace And in the place where all commences See the subtle and the clear It is the empty source of light There is no danger in this place That is forever in plain sight 53. This way is wide and easy Yet people love to stray They love to take the sidetracks And wander from the way When the few are rich and wealthy Living way above their needs The granaries are empty And the fields are full of weeds When rulers spend on weapons And implements of war Itís a never ending circle Of ever wanting more When the rich have all abundance What remains must surely dwindle Having more than you can use Is thievery and fraud and swindle 54. Hold fast to this awareness Seeing that it is your root It will not ever slip away This ever present absolute It cannot be uprooted Itís always held in veneration Discovered very close at hand In every generation Allow its presence in your life Awareness real and profound Allow in the family Its blessings will abound And if you care to share it With neighbor and with friend Its potency will multiply With benefits that never end You ask me how I know itís true It isnít something I mistook Well nothing is more obvious The only thing I do is look 55. One who sees full emptiness Is like a child just born With muscles weak and bones so soft Yet with a grip thatís strong The newborn hasnít been fulfilled Its nature is pure vacancy Nullity and nothingness And potent spontaneity It can scream and cry all day And yet it never does get hoarse It only does what naturally Emerges from the inner source To see this inner nature Is seeing in a way thatís bold Into the only place there is That cannot possibly grow old 56. Those who know donít ever say Those who say donít know Close the mouth and guard the senses Youíll see more than whatís on show Untie tangles, dim the glare Dull the sharp and join the dust Abide in primal unity And then do what you must You cannot hold it or let go It canít be blamed or praised In all embracing oneness Be astonished and amazed 57. To truly lead with fairness You must put aside control Abandon imposition Make spontaneity your goal The more you try to run their lives With rules and prohibition The poorer peopleís lives become The more they live in opposition The more you deal with others With cunning and with guile The more that other people say Our lives are not worthwhile The more you hoard your treasures The more youíre giving hope to thieves The more you sharpen weapons The more the country grieves Do nothing and see all is done And everyone is true Drop the rules and people owe Prosperity to you Just let go of all desire And people will return To natural and simple ways To life without concern 58. Let your lead be gentle And people will be satisfied But if it is severe and harsh Youíll be rejected and defied Happiness may reign today But who knows what tomorrow holds? Sadness too will have its time As ten thousand things unfold The seerís sight is sharp and pointed But it does not cut or pierce The seer sees and shows the truth This gentle way is never fierce 59. To serve and care for others With restraint and moderation Stay centered in the here and now And free of limitation If you keep returning To this your central root You will possess forever Awareness undilute 60. Itís best to lead a large domain As you would cook a little fish Donít poke and prod or you are bound To spoil the country and the dish Just stay open and aware And evil cannot get a hold Cannot find a home in you Even evilís not that bold At center you harm no one And no oneís able to harm you This kind of reciprocity Creates the world anew 61. A great domain is like the sea Whose power comes from lying low And due to this humility Its greatness has to grow A small domain can lie low too Acknowledging its low location Surrender and humility Give rise to exaultation If you lie low you too arise To uppermost position For everyoneís attracted to One who doesnít fear submission 62. Iím at the center and the source Of all ten thousand things Where I receive the benefits That pure awareness brings These benefits belong to all To good and bad the same For nature gives you what you need With no regard for praise or blame Words and deeds of excellence May bring you honor and acclaim But nature values each alike And is not interested in fame When new leaders are installed Donít send gifts or praise Stay centered in the unity Provided by the inward gaze Why do all esteem the void? It does away with imperfection Those who seek are bound to find It disappears on close inspection 63. Begin with the easy And do without doing There isnít a thing That you should be pursuing Begin with the simple Thereís no need attacking Your greatness will lie In all that youíre lacking Tackle problems when theyíre small And still subject to solution The largest problem is resolved By simple deeds of diminution Can you center everyday And see all the seers see Empty here and brimming there A marvelous asymmetry 64. To keep the peace is easy Begin before a problem stirs Handle things before they happen And trouble before it occurs Be calm and conquer worries Before they can procede The very largest tree begins As just a tiny seed It takes a single step to start A journey of a thousand miles And just one brick to start to build The grandest domiciles Let things happen as they will You do not need to interfere See that you do nothing That causes discord to appear 65. Those of old who found the way Could see their inner core They saw that it was hidden And didnít bring it to the fore When people think they know the truth They want all others to concur But they are happy and content When they remain unsure Donít try to lead with cleverness Prefer instead simplicity Itís obvious that truth must lie In nothingness and clarity 66. The sea is large and mighty Because it lies below The streams and rivers of the world Thus capturing their flow If you want to have your fill Then you must see that you are hollow If you want to lead the way Then you must be prepared to follow When you lead you are above But no one feels put down And when you must be out in front No one feels theyíre losing ground When you see that youíre not built For facing up or confrontation No one can contend with you Who are the ultimate negation 67. On seeing inner nothingness You see itís great beyond compare Though many find it curious That you would even care I have three treasures that I keep The first is friendliness The second is to stay behind The third is wanting less For if youíre friendly and you care You can dare to do whatís needed And if you always stay behind The lead will surely be conceded And if youíre satisfied with less You have everything to give Keep these treasures in your heart Then you will truly live 68. Violence is not the way The greatest warriors know That treachery and anger Will not defeat the foe You only win if you donít strive And gain if you do not oppose This is the ancient victory That simplicity bestows 69. In conflict just be cautious And always on your guard Rather than advance an inch Instead retreat a yard In this way you go along And make your gain without advancing You deal with the rival As your position is enhancing Remember that itís possible That your rival just may yield So donít advance on such a foe Let differences be healed 70. Embarrassingly obvious And always near at hand It is this nothingness you see But can never understand This truth within is ageless Yet very few will ever see My face is what I give to you The jewel within is me 71. You cannot understand the truth Claim to know and show you're ill Just see that you are missing That truth is bare and nil Unknowing is the final cure When knowledge takes its heavy toll Pure presence is totality And absence makes you whole 72. When the sense of wonder goes Disaster is not far behind Donít intrude in peopleís lives And they wonít think you are unkind The seer sees both this and that But doesnít ask for praise Finding this immensity With just a simple inward gaze 73. The way is very easy Its purposes prevail All is done in silence Where intention cannot fail Its net is vast and over all With meshes large and wide Yet it loses nothing Holds everything inside 74. Your nature is what isnít born You need not be afraid to die Just live your life and know that you Will never lose the inner eye You canít control what is to be In using tools you donít command Unlike the master carpenter Youíre bound to cut your hand 75. The people starve when taxes take The bulk of what they earn When leaders interfere too much They get rebellion in return The people do not fear to die If leaders rob them of their lives But taking no more than you need You see that everybody thrives 76. Weíre soft and supple when weíre born Hard and rigid when we die Living plants are pliable Deadwood is brittle and dry This way life befriends the weak But death draws near the strong The hard and stiff are bound to break The supple bends and goes along 77. Natureís way of doing Is like the bending of a bow For pulling on a bow you see The low go high and the high go low Nature takes from those who have And gives to those who lack When nature takes from human beings They fight to get it back But if you see you have it all Youíre not afraid to give away Expecting nothing in return It all comes back with no delay 78. Water is so very soft It overcomes because it yields By wearing down the hardest rock It shows what power weakness wields The weak can overcome the strong The soft can overcome the hard Everybody knows itís true So hold the low in high regard The seer sees serenity Where others see affliction The seer sees the inner truth Where others only see a fiction 79. Thereís little good in making peace If resentment lingers Youíll never see an end to blame If everyone is pointing fingers Itís better to be pointing At the peaceful and creative place Where you see naught but emptiness And others say they see your face 80. If a land is small and the people few And the rulers recognize whatís needed The simple ways of courtesy Are happily and gladly heeded For people need so little To live their lives in aright Are food and home and clothing Not enough for pure delight? Though nearby lands are close enough They hear the roosters crow The people will be so content That not a one will want to go 81. Truth need not be eloquent And eloquence may not be true There is no need to argue When truth is shining through Those who see may not be learned The learned may not see To see you merely need to look In pure simplicity The seer doesnít have to hoard And does not fear to lose The more you give, the more you have So why should you refuse? Why not give it all away? For emptiness brings benefit And as the seers always say The more you give, the more you get?
© Copyright 1999 by Jim Clatfelter. You may print this document for your own use or to share with friends. You may also link to this page from your own web site. Please do not copy this page to post on another web site. It is not a finished document. I am in the process of revising it. I welcome your comments and suggestions. Please send email to Jim Clatfelter.
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