38.  A true virtue acts naturally out of compassion with wisdom.  A true virtue experiences a joyful heart and inner peace.    The sage does good deeds, not to show off, and without strings attached.  He goes by harmony, not by desire. He lives in a simple, happy, and content life.  Weaknesses melt away in the presence of  virtue.  As you grow in virtue, you will naturally grow in joy.

39.  The Way brings about a singleness of purpose that simplifies a life with harmony. The way is oneness, singleness, and united.  Following the Way, things flourish and grow naturally.  Against it, things wither and fade.  Enjoy a long life filled with serenity and simplicity by following the Way and cultivating virtue.

40.  “Being” is born of “Emptiness.”  “Thing” is born of “Being.”  Following the Way, things grow gently and steadily.  Practicing Taoist meditation is a beautiful way to soothe your spirit, when you are feeling empty inside.  You can experience a calm, harmonious spirit by cultivating gentleness and non-action. Lao-Tzu  describes the Way as being  a void that can never be filled, but out of which everything comes.

43.  The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world.  Non-being penetrates that in which there is no space.  Through this I know the advantage of taking no action.   “Teaching without words; nurturing without action,” only a few can achieve these goals.  The soft can conquer the firm, so, there are benefits of being gentle stillness.   When you struggle with painful feelings, practicing Taoist meditation, you will wrap yourself in peace and harmony.   Stress and problems no longer consume your attention when you cultivate inner peace.

44. Contentment will not invite humiliation.  Knowing when to stop will keep you away from dangers.  Knowing when you have enough will avoid dishonor.  Let go of the “Bad self” and rediscover the “Basic goodness.”  Place the Way and virtue at the center of your life, you will experience a simple life of greater calmness and serenity.

45.  The great accomplishment seems imperfect, but it is timeless and will not be diminished.  The great abundance seems empty, but it is boundless and will not be exhaused.  Being cool with calmness and being gentle with stillness, the mind will be at ease; and your world will be peaceful and tranquil.  Take breaks from your busy life, and nurture the simple life by promoting inner peace and a deeper connection with the Way.

46.  Being discontent is more worse than disaster.  Being greedy is more worse than faulty manner.  To know when you have enough is to be rich.  One who is contented has abundance because he has everything.  Accept yourself just as you are.  Make peace with your shortcomings.  Be gentle and forgiving with yourself.  Rediscover your basic goodness, you will embrace joy and peace.

47.  Opening the heart to the Way, one can know the world without going outdoors, see clearly without looking, and finish smoothly without doing.  That’s the beauty of the Way.  One can name the following without seeing it.  Changing the difficult emotions begins with changing thoughts, which helps you nurture inner simplicity.  Cultivate virtue increases feelings of confidence and inner wisdom.

49.  No one is less important.  The sage has no discrimination between good and bad.  To those who are good, he treats with generosity.  To those who are bad, he treats with compassion.  This is how he attains trust and respect.  The sage helps the bad ones rediscover their innate goodness of purity and beauty.  Cultivate the inner goodness moves one away from fears and toward serenity.

Be good to those who are good and to those who are not.  For goodness increases goodness.  Have faith in those who are faithful and in those who are not.  For faith brings greater faith.  And, goodness and faith build peace.

52.  Empty yourself of everything.  Let your mind be at peace.  While ten thousand rise and fall, the Self contemplates their return.  Each of them grows and flourishes and then returns to the source.  Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of Nature.

55.  The phases of the Moon – waxing and waning – is a perfect example of the Law of Nature.  Thing that reaches the top, fullness will soon begin to decline.  Those who is trying to break the Laws of Nature will come to an early end.  Going against the Way, the laws of nature, will result in failure and sorrow.  Embracing the Way and cultivating virtue, one moves joyfully into the simpler life.

56.  Those who know do not talk.  Those who talk do not know.  Those who are knowledgeable speak less. Those who are wise, do not boast about themselves.  Those who indulge in loud and empty talk know little.  Stop talking, you will see clearly.  Stop thinking, you will end problems.  Being silent and observing your own mind is better than speaking.  Pursuing material possessions creates discontent, yet pursuing the Way and virtue brings about peace and harmony.  Therefore, the sage abides in the condition of unattached action, and carries out the wordless teaching.

58.  Good fortune follows upon disaster.  Disaster hides within good fortune.  Who knows when the cycle will end?  Thus, the sage is broad-minded and humble; fair-minded and compassionate.  Focusing on  hardship brings anxiety, but focusing on cultivating virtue brings tranquility and joy.  Eliminating greeds and intolerance brings a happy and content life without fear, fealousy or rage.

63.  “Acting by non-action; doing by non-doing; and smelling by non-tasting,” the difficulties will merge into easy ones.  To the sage, there is no difference between the difficulty and non-difficulty.  He returns hate with love.   Free of burdens and pressure, the sage is able to achieve the great.  Hungering after material things falls away as virtue grows in one’s heart and mind.  ” It is the way of the Tao to act without acting.”

64.  Stop rushing, you will make no error.  Stop being greedy, you will receive no dishonor.  Stop thinking, you will have no confusion.  Stop being concerned, you will have no worries.  Stop holding, you will lose nothing.  Not collecting treasures prevents stealing.  Cultivate gentleness and non-action.  Practicing Taoist meditation, you will experience the closeness of nature, bringing about spiritual renewal and refreshment.

67.  There are three jewels that I cherish.  The first is compassion with wisdom, which brings courage to help others.  The second is moderation, which brings abundance to share with others.  And, the third is humility, which brings peace and harmony.  Those having courage with no compassion; abundance with no moderation; and power with no humility can not endure.  These three jewels bring about a life of simplicity with joy and peace.

68.  A wise fighter displays no angers.  A wise competitor avoids confrontation.  And, a wise leader respects his followers.  Knowing how to use the strength of mankind; and knowing how to create harmony with nature is the virtue of non-competition.  Amidst life’s chaotic changes, one can find peace in the Way and harmony in virtue.  When you have no control over circumstances, you can control to face it with calmness, not with angers.

69.  It is wiser to be a guest  than to be the host.  It is wiser to retreat a foot than to advance only an inch.  This is called “advancing without moving, and pushing without using force.”  To move forward, one must first move backward.  To become a good leader, one must first be a follower.  There is no worse disaster than misjudge one’s rival.  When two contestants are equally matched, the one who maintains calm and showing compassion will win.

72.  The leader will face disasters when his people have nothing to lose and have no fear of death.  A wise leader helps his people grow and puts no burdens on them.  A wise leader displays no power and puts no threats on his people.  Cultivate virtue is the key of being content and harmonious in any and every situation.  When one embraces one’s nature goodness, one feels contented, confident with peace and harmony.

74.  Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.  Hope and fear are both illusions that arise from thinking of the self.  When we don’t see the self as self, what do we have to fear.

75.  Those who pursue no fame and wealth accomplish much more than those who are greedy.  Those who act without regard for their own lives accomplish much more than those who value only their own lives.  The Way is a life of simplicity.  The virtue is the caring of others and sharing of the abundance.  Your feeling of abundance will increase as your time spending in cultivation increases.  With abundance, you can care and nurture those in need.

78.  Nothing in the world is as soft and gentle as the water, yet it has great strength.  It flows downhill and can easily wear away the hardest stone.   The soft and gentle can conquer the hard and firm.  So, when difficulties arise, do not panic, but gently find a way through the problems.  A wise leader accepts the insults and disasters that fall on his nation.  Accepting the Way and cultivating virtue brings hope and harmony.  The gentlest thing in the world overcomes the hardest thing in the world.

79.  Complaints remain, even after settling down a complicated dispute.  How can one solve it?  Nature is impartial.  The sage seeks harmony.  He accepts less than what is due, and blames no one.  The sage serves all fairly and kindly.  He forgives those who have deeply injured him.  He would return love for hatred, and good for evil.  When the sage forgives, he is set free, and he is no longer determined by the past.

81.  Honest people speak no beautiful words.  Artful and clever talks are not honesty.  The sage needs no debate.  A man who needs to debate is not wise.  The sage seeks no material possessions.  He seeks spiritual abundance and shares those with others.  “Giving, not competing; nourishing but not forcing,” the sage follows the laws of nature. He enjoys a life of simplicity with peace and harmony, and is free from suffering.

(Spring Liao, 5/5/07)

 

The five classic elements of Taoism are wood, water, earth, fire and metal.  Yin and Yang, the two central forces of the universe, gave birth to these five elements.  Fire and wood are associated with Yang, while metal and water belong to Yin, and earth remains neutral. The fve elements act in the cosmos in various constellations.  “Constancy in change” is the central principle of the powers of Yin and Yang.

This idea also forms the basis of Chinese medicine, which works from the assumption that one element either blocks or promotes another.  A balance between the energies in the body is therefore its primary goal.

The Chinese art of Feng Shui (Chinese for “wind-water”) was developed by taking into consideration the five elements and the universal forces of Yin and Yang.  Today, many people in the West also design their surroundings and living sapce with its help, paying heed to the interactions between people, earth and cosmos when deciding on the layout of buildings or rooms.  Ancient Taoists used Feng Shui  when choosing the best sites for buildings, and especially for graves and temples.

(Spring Liao, 11/14/09)

Summary

Lao-Tzu’s  “Tao Te Ching” could almost be considered a receipe for happiness.

Be Humble:  A good man is like water.  Water nourishes and supports life, but it never tries to take over the high ground.  It is content to remain in the low places because it knows that the great oceans rule over all the streams.  You should give first, if you want to take.  You should be humble, by placing yourself below others if you want to be above them.  You should remain calm and serene, and work diligently until the right timing comes along, then you should seize this moment to achieve your goals.

Be Compassionate:  By being compassionate, you will not forget others in your desire to progress.  When you are moderate, you will not waste your resources.  If you have no desire to contest to be in the number one position, you are likely to find yourself there.  If you remain being soft and flexible, and being prepared to bend or yield when necessary, you will ultimately succeed.

Limit Your Desires:  People who take less will have more.  People who desire more will ultimately become obsessed and their desires will get in their own way.  If you are content with what you have, it will be sufficient and you will be happy.  You will enjoy peace of mind when your desires are few.

Step Out Of Yourself:  When you are too close to your ego, your are inclined to worry and become anxious about external things.  Life becomes more harmonious only when you forget yourself and you will enjoy your life more.  The more you do for others, the more you will have yourself.  Only you stop being selfish, your goals will be realized.

Take One Step At A Time: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step,” is one of the most famous sayings of Lao Tzu. It always pays to take care of the minor difficulties before starting to work on a big project.  If you want to achieve great goals, set a series of smaller ones that will lead to your ultimate goals.  People who achieve great things do not consider themselves great.  They plan well what they want to accomplish and also be prepared to deal with any difficulties that might occur later.  They also understand that as they get closer to their goal, they are more prone to fail and lose.  So, they act more carefully toward the end as they were at the beginning.

Know When To Stop:  It is always wise to stop before the cup overflows.  Don’t be greedy to  fully fill up the cup.   Whatever you do, always leave some room for retreat.  Stop as soon as the job is done.  Do not talk too much or stay too long.

If you remain patient, unassuming and content, you will lead a sound life full of joy, peace and happiness.