Tao-te ching > Comments


About Long-enduring

Quote

    Heaven is long-enduring and earth continues long. The reason
    why heaven and earth are able to endure and continue thus long is
    because they do not live of, or for, themselves. This is how they are
    able to continue and endure.

    Therefore the sage puts his own person last, and yet it is found in
    the foremost place; he treats his person as if it were foreign to him,
    and yet that person is preserved. Is it not because he has no
    personal and private ends, that therefore such ends are realised?
      (Tao-te ching, ch. 7, Legge's version).

Commentary

Everything is governed by the Tao. This is why heaven and earth don't live for themselves and endures long.

The same with the sage. Although he/she doesn't have a personal goal, everything he/she (is supposed to) needs is realized.

But what about the sentence: "he treats his person as if it was foreign to him,
and yet that person is preserved?" One secures his/her person (and even get the foremost place) without having to do something in this respect. And this is so because, as I already said, everything is ruled by the Tao..

We find a parallel to this idea in the sayings of Jesus: Whoever will try to secure his life will lose it; and whoever will lose his life, will save it.

There's something similar at master Yang: "Valuing life cannot preserve it, taking care of the body cannot do it good." (The Book of Lieh-tzu, translated by A C Graham, Columbia University Press, Yang Chu).

Finally one could say that heaven and earth are only interested in creating and nourishing the myriad things and beings. They are not concerned with their personal welfare but with others'. Such as a good government. But this is not exactly what Lao-tzu would want to say. Rather it is a matter of impersonal action or nondoing, another key-concept hold dear by the Taoist adepts.

We provide valuable information about nondoing (wu-wei) in our email courses Lao-tzu and Tao-te ching Revealed and Initiation into Taoism, level 1.

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Commentary by Jhian

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