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The Great Tao and the Ethics


    When the Great Tao (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, ch. 18, James Legge version)


1. These verses are about the Confucian ethics based on humanhood, piety and rightness. People following Confucius must learn all these in order to rule the state. Still for a Taoist adept these are only hypocrisy because they don't come naturally, without thought and plan.

What is the meaning of the Great Tao? Legge notes: "way or method". Yes, indeed, Tao means way and method. It has many other meanings as one can't simply exhaust them. But if it is way - what is this way? Or if it is method - what method?

2. The same with "harmony". What is this harmony pointing to? I think it is about the yin-yang principle that rules the World. But yin-yang is also in relation with the Tao. This is way Tao means way and method.

Commentary by Jhian

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