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.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Understanding the Tao te Ching Chapter 29: Wu Wei

For this chapter we will use Susuki's translation:

When one desires to take in hand the empire and make it, I see him not succeed. The empire is a divine vessel which cannot be made. One who makes it, mars it. One who takes it, loses it. 

And it is said of beings:
" Some are obsequious, others move boldly, Some breathe warmly, others coldly, Some are strong and others weak, Some rise proudly, others sneak."

Therefore the holy man abandons excess, he abandons extravagance, he abandons indulgence.

Tao te Ching Chapter 29


One of the key concepts of Taoism, Wu Wei, is explored in this chapter.  Wu Wei can be described as having the wisdom to know when to act.  It is summed up quite nicely in  Reinhold Niebuhr's  serenity prayer:  

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

Knowing that the author favors Wu Wei, this chapter can be interpreted to be a caution against over action.

Stanza one observes that control cannot really be taken.  By attempting to do so, we often destroy or change that which we wish to control.

The second stanza observes that humans nature is varied and different people approach issues differently.  

The third stanza can be seen as saying, "regardless of your nature, you are wise to limit your interference.  Practice Wu Wei.
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