Monday, June 20, 2016

Thoughts on the Tao Te Ching 73

Poem 73

The Tao is always at ease.
It overcomes without competing,
answers without speaking a word,
arrives without being summoned,
accomplishes without a plan.

Its net covers the whole universe.
And though its meshes are wide,
it doesn't let a thing slip through.


What we have here is a short lyric praising the Tao.  Once again, commentary is perhaps more than usally superfluous, given its sheer succinctness.  Also, as is the case with most devotional and spiritual treatises, their authors praise the object of that act to the highest degree.  Once more, as in praises of the beloved in all love poetry, exaggeration is used again and again, e.g., "It overcomes without competing" - it is at once paradox as well as sheer exaggeration. "It answers without speaking" and accomplishes all it needs to "without a plan."  Quite obviously, we humans cannot get our head around any of these exaggerations and paradoxes as they contradict our lived experiences of the world.

However, once again, we are confronted with the nature of reality - what is the real world? What is reality in itself? As everything eventually breaks down according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics perhaps contemplating the wisdom that everything on this side of the grave will fade and pass - almost into oblivion when the last people who could possibly remember little us have passed, too - might help us to appreciate the wisdom our Taoist poet is presenting for our contemplation in the above poetic lines.  

It would seem also that our author wants his readers to learn to go with the flow; to realise that, in this world of experience everything does fit in, that there is an underlying pattern to things that is beyond our ken; that nothing is ever lost, that everything forms part of a greater whole; that there is an order despite the seeming disorder.


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