This blog is an interpretation of the Tao te Ching "Tao Virtue Book" which is attributed to Laozi "Lao Tze" a Chinese philosopher who lived circa 600 b.c.

Please remember always that this is the description of the Tao and not the experience of the living Tao. Hopefully, this blog will not serve as analysis or commentary but as a window into the Tao. You are encouraged to disagree with this interpretation, involve yourself in self-study, and ultimately leave all concepts behind and so experience the living Tao.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Understanding the Tao te Ching Chapter 18: Falling from Grace

For this chapter we will use Legge's translation.


When the Great Dao (Way or Method) ceased to be observed, benevolence and righteousness came into vogue. (Then) appeared wisdom and shrewdness, and there ensued great hypocrisy.

When harmony no longer prevailed throughout the six kinships, filial sons found their manifestation; when the states and clans fell into disorder, loyal ministers appeared.

Tao te Ching chapter 18


It is sometimes easy to forget that the Tao itself does not know right and wrong.  It does not understand good and bad.  It simply follows its nature and all that rise out of it live also in accord with their nature.  Those who follow the Dao tend not identify themselves with labels such as Democrat or Cub's Fan.  They realize that such feelings rise naturally out of their life experience but that they are not held to the condition democrat.  It is simply something that they are experiencing.  Thus they don't tend to get into idealist quarrels or disagreements in bars with Brave's fans.

This chapter may be seen as the observation that when all people (apparently at some time in the past) observed the Dao, there was little need for concern over right and wrong.  People simply acted or failed to act as was there nature.  There was also little concern with ideas (such as party affiliation.)

The conditions that we see today; people willing to kill over ideas or kill people they perceive as bad, can be seen as the result of this fall from the Tao.  There is a paradox here, in that this killing is human nature.

How would the way back to the Tao be found, and who would find it?
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