• MondoR
    245
    It is possible trust there was not one author of the Dao De Jing (I hold this view), but rather it is a conglomeration of sayings, thoughts, and stories, that were gathered over time. One can bring that the Bible is the revealed Word, or a collection from many authors over a period of time. Ditto for Shakespeare. For me, the Dao De Jing seems to be a collection chants, stories, and fables, all provoking different insights, and possibly deeper wisdom.
  • T Clark
    5.9k
    It is possible trust there was not one author of the Dao De Jing (I hold this view), but rather it is a conglomeration of sayings, thoughts, and stories, that were gathered over time. One can bring that the Bible is the revealed Word, or a collection from many authors over a period of time. Ditto for Shakespeare. For me, the Dao De Jing seems to be a collection chants, stories, and fables, all provoking different insights, and possibly deeper wisdom.MondoR

    I have read that some think the TTC has more than one author or that some verses were added later. I don't know enough to argue, but it doesn't seem like "a collection chants, stories, and fables." For me, there is a strong feeling of continuity and unity among all the verses. I see the TTC as all one story told in pieces like a collage. That's one way of getting around the fact that the Tao is unspeakable.
  • MondoR
    245
    The lack of clarity in there verses is most likely the result of a incorrect perspective of the translator out reader. When viewed as a set of fables or hymns of an ancient people, them one can see that it is but much different from the kinds of spiritual writings and thoughts that have always been present in all cultures. It is good marketing to try to make it more than that, but more understandable if one doesn't.
  • T Clark
    5.9k
    Verse 20

    Ellen Marie Chen


    Eliminate (chüeh) learning so as to have no worries,
    Yes and no, how far apart are they?
    Good and evil, how far apart are they?

    What the sages (jen) fear,
    I must not not fear.
    I am the wilderness (huang) before the dawn (wei yang).

    The multitude (chung jen) are busy and active,
    Like partaking of the sacrificial feast,
    Like ascending the platform in spring;
    I alone (tu) am bland (p'o),
    As if I have not yet emerged (chao) into form.
    Like an infant who has not yet smiled (hai),
    Lost, like one who has nowhere to return (wu so kuei).

    The multitudes (chung jen) all have too much (yu yü);
    I alone (tu) am deficient (i).
    My mind (hsin) is that of a fool (yü),
    Nebulous.

    Worldly people (su jen) are luminous (chao);
    I alone (tu) am dark (hun).
    Worldly people are clear-sighted (ch'a);
    I alone (tu) am dull (men),
    I am calm like the sea,
    Like the high winds I never stop (chih).

    The multitudes (chung jen) all have their use (i);
    I alone (tu) am untamable like lowly material.
    I alone (tu) am different from others.
    For I treasure feeding on the Mother (mu).



    Addiss and Lombardo

    Banish learning, no more grief. Between Yes and No How much difference? Between good and evil How much difference??
    What others fear I must fear - How pointless!
    People are wreathed in smiles as if at a carnival banquet. I alone am passive, giving no sign, Like an infant who has not yet smiled. Forlorn as if I had no home.
    Others have enough and more, I alone am left out. I have the mind of a fool, Confused, confused.
    Others are bright and intelligent, I alone and dull, dull, Drifting on the ocean, Blown about endlessly.
    Others have plans, I alone am wayward and stubborn, I alone am different from others, Like a baby in the womb.


    My thoughts

    The theme of Verse 20 is, if you follow the Tao, you will look odd to other people. In the attached PDF file, I’ve included two commentaries. I included Ellen Marie Chen’s because I think she summarizes the verse well, by which I mean her understanding is close to mine. I included Stefan Stenudd’s because he had some interesting things to say about language and history. For example, he says many scholars think the first line doesn’t really belong in this verse.

    The attached file also includes several other translations of the verse.

    Ellen Marie Chen Verse 20 – stanza by stanza

    Eliminate (chüeh) learning so as to have no worries,
    Yes and no, how far apart are they?
    Good and evil, how far apart are they?


    Again, Stenudd says the first line doesn’t belong. Too bad. I like it. As you should know, I’m a fan of the knowledge = bad interpretation. I think this line states it more strongly than some of the others. “Eliminate learning.” “Banish learning.”

    The next two lines remind me of several others. This is Chen from Verse 2:

    When all under heaven know beauty (mei) as beauty,
    There is then ugliness (o);
    When all know the good (shan) good,
    There is then the not good (pu shan).


    This is Mitchell from Verse 13.

    Success is as dangerous as failure.
    Hope is as hollow as fear.


    I think of American football – I root for the Patriots. I don’t like the Giants. But they’re the same. They both play the same game. If I don’t care about football, there’s no difference. Same with American Republicans and Democrats. If I’m from Bangladesh, I don’t see any difference. Lao Tzu wants us to recognize that all the value judgements we make are games which we can choose not to play.

    What the sages (jen) fear,
    I must not not fear.
    I am the wilderness (huang) before the dawn (wei yang).


    This is confusing. Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English translate this as “Must I fear what others fear? What nonsense!” That reading is consistent with other translations.

    The multitude (chung jen) are busy and active,
    Like partaking of the sacrificial feast,
    Like ascending the platform in spring;
    I alone (tu) am bland (p'o),
    As if I have not yet emerged (chao) into form.
    Like an infant who has not yet smiled (hai),
    Lost, like one who has nowhere to return (wu so kuei).


    I can’t remember where I saw it, whether it was here in the forum or somewhere else, but recently I read a discussion of why modern people are so afraid of monotony. The discussion said lions lie around most of the day doing nothing and that some hunter gatherer tribes work only four or five hours a day and spend the rest sitting around. Whether or not that’s true, I can picture a pride of Taoist lions sitting in the shade.

    sb2d4qvmcyxec655.png

    In her commentary, Chen has a discussion of the Chinese tradition of not naming a child until they are three months old. The idea is that it is not until she has smiled that she truly becomes a person. Smiling is a sign of the beginning of self-awareness.

    The multitudes (chung jen) all have too much (yu yü);
    I alone (tu) am deficient (i).
    My mind (hsin) is that of a fool (yü),
    Nebulous.


    “Being There” with Peter Sellars comes to mind. In that comedy, Chance, played by Sellars, is a simple-minded gardener. Everyone hears his bland, pointless words and assumes they are wise. What Lao Tzu is describing is the opposite of that.

    Worldly people (su jen) are luminous (chao);
    I alone (tu) am dark (hun).
    Worldly people are clear-sighted (ch'a);
    I alone (tu) am dull (men),
    I am calm like the sea,
    Like the high winds I never stop (chih).


    Why would sophisticated, successful men and women assume that a quiet, calm person is dull?

    The multitudes (chung jen) all have their use (i);
    I alone (tu) am untamable like lowly material.
    I alone (tu) am different from others.
    For I treasure feeding on the Mother (mu).


    People think I am stubborn and odd.
    Attachment
    2021-04-23 Verse 20 (163K)
  • T Clark
    5.9k
    The lack of clarity in there verses is most likely the result of a incorrect perspective of the translator out reader. When viewed as a set of fables or hymns of an ancient people, them one can see that it is but much different from the kinds of spiritual writings and thoughts that have always been present in all cultures. It is good marketing to try to make it more than that, but more understandable if one doesn't.MondoR

    Again - I see Lao Tzu telling us a story, laying out a path. It doesn't seem like a random hodgepodge or marketing at all.
  • Possibility
    2.3k
    The theme of Verse 20 is, if you follow the Tao, you will look odd to other people.T Clark

    I think it’s more that you will feel odd in relation to other people.

    Eliminate (chüeh) learning so as to have no worries,
    Yes and no, how far apart are they?
    Good and evil, how far apart are they?

    Again, Stenudd says the first line doesn’t belong. Too bad. I like it. As you should know, I’m a fan of the knowledge = bad interpretation. I think this line states it more strongly than some of the others. “Eliminate learning.” “Banish learning.”
    T Clark

    As you know, our view differs here. I think the commentary that it doesn’t belong says more about the translator’s perspective than the text, their inability to reconcile it with the flow at this point. It warrants a closer look.

    I’ve already argued that the first character in this verse - jué - doesn’t really mean ‘eliminate’, but rather ‘absolute’, or to ‘cut-off’ at a point of excess. I think it’s more about recognising our limitations with regards to knowledge or learning, embracing uncertainty to eliminate worry, fear, concern, sorrow, care, anxiety, etc. The lines that follow help to demonstrate this, but I think the translation needs work.

    The first line says that we cannot accurately quantify the relation between positive and negative; the second that we cannot qualify the relation between good and evil. It’s like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’ This uncertainty is what we fear. Such desolation, such scarcity of information has no centre, no end, nothing to beg for.

    The rest of the verse describes the difference between the sage who faces this uncertainty, and everyone else who appear to have full and busy lives, so in control and certain of their usefulness, their dominant and joyful ‘springtime’ stance, their vision of who they are and where they’re going.

    Instead of the Cartesian method of casting aside all doubt and starting from only what we can be ‘certain’ of, the Taoist starts from the limitations of knowledge, recognising that we can be certain of nothing - that all knowledge is quantitatively and/or qualitatively relative (to the flow of chi). This is not to say that we cannot know anything - only that we cannot claim beyond ourselves to know anything with certainty, because any attempt to name, state or describe this knowledge beyond our own experience is relative to the flow of chi. And chi flows according to affect: attention and effort. It is always variable.

    In my view, Lao Tzu gets around this only by extricating chi from the TTC - recognising that when it is read, when we interact with the language, we inevitably bring our own. So he takes great care not to mess with that flow: not to block or ignore, not to isolate or exclude. No matter what we think we know about the world, if we can parse reality into quality, quantity (logic) and chi, then we can discover the Way. But we can’t bottle it.
  • T Clark
    5.9k
    As you know, our view differs here. I think the commentary that it doesn’t belong says more about the translator’s perspective than the text, their inability to reconcile it with the flow at this point. It warrants a closer look.Possibility

    The file I attached to my original post has Stefan Stenudd's full commentary, which discusses this in more detail.

    I think it’s more about recognising our limitations with regards to knowledge or learning, embracing uncertainty to eliminate worry, fear, concern, sorrow, care, anxiety, etc.Possibility

    As you note, you and I disagree on this. The statement in the first line seems stronger to me than similar lines in other verses. More definitive. As mystical philosopher Tommy has noted, "You ain't gonna follow me any of those ways, although you think you must."

    The first line says that we cannot accurately quantify the relation between positive and negative; the second that we cannot qualify the relation between good and evil. It’s like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’ This uncertainty is what we fear. Such desolation, such scarcity of information has no centre, no end, nothing to beg for.Possibility

    The second and third lines of the first stanza seem to me to be pointing out that our value judgements are conditional and somewhat arbitrary. The important distinction isn't between good and bad, but between making judgements and not making judgements.

    The rest of the verse describes the difference between the sage who faces this uncertainty, and everyone else who appear to have full and busy lives, so in control and certain of their usefulness, their dominant and joyful ‘springtime’ stance, their vision of who they are and where they’re going.Possibility

    As I noted in my comments, I think the point of the verse is that people who follow the Tao look odd, disreputable, stupid, or crazy to many other people because they don't care about the goals most people do - acclaim, wealth, status, attention.

    the Taoist starts from the limitations of knowledge, recognising that we can be certain of nothing - that all knowledge is quantitatively and/or qualitatively relative (to the flow of chi). This is not to say that we cannot know anything - only that we cannot claim beyond ourselves to know anything with certainty,Possibility

    I don't see it this way at all. The TTC is not about knowledge, it's about the rejection of knowledge. Lao Tzu could not be more explicit about it. He's a plain-spoken guy. He says what he means.

    In my view, Lao Tzu gets around this only by extricating chi from the TTC - recognising that when it is read, when we interact with the language, we inevitably bring our own.Possibility

    I don't see where this comes from. Lao Tzu doesn't mention "chi," or any other term I recognize as similar, at all.

    Have you been following the discussion on Buddhist epistemology? Also there's a discussion about why people turned away from Buddhism in the Lounge. I'm curious about your thoughts. I plan to follow up with @FrancisRay on some of the comments he made on the logic of Taoism and Buddhism previously in this thread.
  • 0 thru 9
    948
    I have several Tao Te Ching audiobooks / tapes (remember those?). Read by Jacob Needleman, Ursula LeGuin, Steven Mitchell, etc. I listen to them in the car. If there is a better prevention (and cure) for road rage, I can’t imagine what it might be.

    (Thanks for this thread, everyone. :hearts: )
  • T Clark
    5.9k
    Verse 21

    I like this verse. It feels really different from the others we’ve discussed. It plays around with some of the contradictions that have been seen elsewhere. Is the Tao a thing? Does it have a form? That’s what struck me as I first read it. This verse also feels like a summary of what we read in other verses. Like Lao Tzu is standing back and showing us the big picture.
    I’ve included excerpts from the commentaries from Ellen Marie Chen and Stefan Stenudd that I thought were helpful at the end of this post.

    Ellen Marie Chen

    The features (yung) of the vast (k'ung) Te,
    Follows entirely (wei) from Tao.

    Tao as a thing,
    Is entirely illusive (huang) and evasive (hu).
    Evasive and illusive,
    In it there is image (hsiang).
    Illusive and evasive,
    In it there is thinghood (wu).
    Dark and dim,
    In it there is life seed (ching).
    Its life seed being very genuine (chen),
    In it there is growth power (hsin).

    As it is today, so it was in the days of old (ku),
    Its name goes not away (ch'ü),
    So that we may survey (yüeh) the origins of the many (chung fu).
    How do I know that the origins of the many are such?
    Because of this.


    Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English

    The greatest Virtue is to follow Tao and Tao alone.
    The Tao is elusive and intangible.
    Oh, it is intangible and elusive, and yet within is image.
    Oh, it is elusive and intangible, and yet within is form.
    Oh, it is dim and dark, and yet within is essence.
    This essence is very real, and therein lies faith.
    From the very beginning until now its name has never been forgotten.
    Thus I perceive the creation.
    How do I know the ways of creation?
    Because of this.


    Line by line discussion

    Ellen Marie Chen


    The features (yung) of the vast (k'ung) Te,
    Follows entirely (wei) from Tao.


    This is the first time the term “te” is used in the TTC, except in the title. In the title, Tao get’s top billing, but Te is still on the marquee. According to some scholars, Verses 1 through 37 are the book of the Tao and Verses 38 through 81 are the book of Te.

    “Te” means “virtue.” No, it doesn’t. Yes, it does. It is sometimes translated as “power.” This is from Chen’s Verse 38:

    Therefore when Tao is lost (shih), then there is te.
    When te is lost, then there is jen (humanity).
    When jen is lost, then there is i (righteousness).
    When i is lost, then there is li (propriety).
    As to li, it is the thin edge of loyalty and faithfullness,
    And the beginning of disorder;


    So, on this ladder, te comes after the Tao but before the principles of conventional behavior. It is clearly a good thing. Since the Tao is inconceivable, untouchable, maybe it’s the closest we can get. Maybe it’s the shadow of the Tao, it’s projection on our souls. As the couplet says, everything that is Te comes from the Tao.

    Tao as a thing,
    Is entirely illusive (huang) and evasive (hu).
    Evasive and illusive,
    In it there is image (hsiang).
    Illusive and evasive,
    In it there is thinghood (wu).


    I have always assumed that the Tao is not a thing. It’s sometimes called “non-being.” This from Chen’s Verse 40:

    Ten thousand things under heaven are born of being (yu).
    Being is born of non-being (wu).


    Everything I think and feel about the Tao says it doesn’t exist, is not a thing, but the TTC (Chen Verse 25) also says:

    There was something nebulous existing (yu wu hun ch'eng),
    Born before heaven and earth.


    And also (Chen Verse 4):

    Tao is a whirling emptiness (ch'ung)…
    …It seems perhaps to exist (ts'un).

    Dark and dim,
    In it there is life seed (ching).
    Its life seed being very genuine (chen),
    In it there is growth power (hsin).


    This makes me think of the Tao by itself for 10.5 billion years following the big bang. Unnamed stars, galaxies, dark matter whirling outward from the center. Then life is created and for 3.5 billion years evolves until humans are born, language is invented, and things can finally be named. Then the 10,000 things burst from the seed and spread across the universe faster than the speed of light. Instantaneously.

    As it is today, so it was in the days of old (ku),
    Its name goes not away (ch'ü),
    So that we may survey (yüeh) the origins of the many (chung fu).
    How do I know that the origins of the many are such?
    Because of this.


    So people thousands of years ago learned about the Tao and have passed the word down so we will know. I like the last line especially. How do I know these things? I see Lao Tzu turning with his arms wide saying “See, all this. This is how we know.”
  • T Clark
    5.9k
    Forgot to add the commentaries on Verse 21:

    Ellen Marie Chen General Comment:

    For effective contrast, this chapter is best read together with chapter 14. Both chapters call Tao the illusive and evasive (hu-huang), i.e., the primal Chaos or Hun-tun described in chapter 25. In chapter 14 Tao recedes and becomes the nothing; here the same illusive and evasive Tao moves forward to become the realm of beings. There Tao is nameless; here Tao is the name that never goes away. There Tao is the formless form, the image of nothing; here Tao contains the seeds and images of all beings that are to be. The dominant character of Tao in chapter 14 is wu, nothing; in this chapter it is yu, being or having. The conclusion of chapter 14 traces Tao to the beginning of old; this chapter arrives at the realm of the many in the now.

    Chen translation of Verse 14 for reference:

    What is looked at but not (pu) seen,
    Is named the extremely dim (yi).
    What is listened to but not heard,
    Is named the extremely faint (hsi).
    What is grabbed but not caught,
    Is named the extremely small (wei).
    These three cannot be comprehended,
    Thus they blend into one.

    As to the one, its coming up is not light,
    Its going down is not darkness.
    Unceasing, unnameable,
    Again it reverts to nothing.
    Therefore it is called the formless form,
    The image (hsiang) of nothing.
    Therefore it is said to be illusive and evasive (hu-huang).

    Come toward it one does not see its head,
    Follow behind it one does not see its rear.
    Holding on to the Tao of old (ku chih tao),
    So as to steer in the world of now (chin chih yu).
    To be able to know the beginning of old,
    It is to know the thread of Tao.


    Stefan Stenudd Commentary Excerpts:

    Tao, the Way, is primordial. Not only was it present at the very birth of the world, but it was the actual origin out of which the world emerged. Its own origin, if there is one, is the most distant of all.

    So, Tao must be obscure, evasive, and vague. Anything by which to describe Tao is of later date and lesser significance, so Tao remains forever impenetrable. Its nature may be grasped intuitively, but not explained.

    Lao Tzu speaks repeatedly about the center of Tao, as if it would differ from its periphery or anything in between. But Tao is the very law of nature, so it contains no differences or discrepancies. Otherwise there would be anomalies and exceptions in the way the universe works.

    It would collapse, as would Tao. What Lao Tzu refers to is the difference between the outside view, when Tao is observed by those who don’t comprehend it, and what its true nature really is.

    In that way, Tao has form because of all the forms being born out of it, and it has substance through all the matter that came out of it, filling the world. It also has essence, which is its creative force, its active presence. Without that essence, no world would have emerged. Tao would only have been an eternal possibility, resting in its own perfection.

    The essence of Tao is similar to the expressed will of the Bible’s God, uttering: “Let there be...” Tao may have no similarly traceable intention, but the result is the same. The universe was born, because that event was in the nature of Tao.
  • T Clark
    5.9k
    Verse 22

    I had trouble with this verse. The different translations each seem to take a different angle, some in conflict with each other. They also seem to be in conflict with some earlier verses. I take the general theme to be one we have seen a lot. Act from the heart, with sincerity, and not for gain or recognition. Wu wei, although it isn’t called out as that. Then the verse goes on with some related things that I find a bit muddled.

    Derek Lin

    Yield and remain whole
    Bend and remain straight
    Be low and become filled
    Be worn out and become renewed
    Have little and receive
    Have much and be confused

    Therefore the sage holds to the one as an example for the world
    Without flaunting oneself - and so is seen clearly
    Without presuming oneself - and so is distinguished
    Without praising oneself - and so has merit
    Without boasting about oneself - and so is lasting
    Because he does not contend, the world cannot contend with him

    What the ancients called "the one who yields and remains whole"
    Were they speaking empty words?
    Sincerity becoming whole, and returning to oneself


    Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English

    Yield and overcome;
    Bend and be straight;
    Empty and be full;
    Wear out and be new;
    Have little and gain;
    Have much and be confused.

    Therefore the wise embrace the one
    And set an example to all.
    Not putting on a display,
    They shine forth.
    Not justifying themselves,
    They are distinguished.
    Not boasting,
    They receive recognition.
    Not bragging,
    They never falter.
    They do not quarrel,
    So no one quarrels with them.
    Therefore the ancients say, "Yield and overcome."
    Is that an empty saying?
    Be really whole,
    And all things will come to you.


    Discussion of Derek Lin’s translation

    Yield and remain whole
    Bend and remain straight


    At first look, these two lines seem straightforward - be flexible. Don’t force actions or forcibly resist events. Non-action. Some other translations have different emphasis. Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English say:

    Yield and overcome;
    Bend and be straight;


    Addis and Lombardo say:

    Crippled become whole,
    Crooked becomes straight,


    These two translations seem to take a different view. Lin says “be flexible and remain strong.” The other translations seem to be saying “be flexible and achieve your goals.” The latter readings seem more consistent with the remaining lines in the stanza from Lin:

    Be low and become filled
    Be worn out and become renewed
    Have little and receive
    Have much and be confused


    This has a prosperity gospel feel to it. Follow the Tao and you will be given what you want and need. This theme seems to be carried forward in the next stanza. Note that the last line of this stanza does not follow the parallel structure of the previous five. They say “do this and this good thing will happen.” The last line says “do this and this bad thing will happen.”

    All in all, I like Stephen Mitchell’s take on this stanza best:

    If you want to become whole,
    let yourself be partial.
    If you want to become straight,
    let yourself be crooked.
    If you want to become full,
    let yourself be empty.
    If you want to be reborn,
    let yourself die.
    If you want to be given everything,
    give everything up.


    I didn’t use his translation as the template here, because his version seems to have taken a lot of liberties with the text, as often happens with Mitchell.

    Therefore the sage holds to the one as an example for the world
    Without flaunting oneself - and so is seen clearly
    Without presuming oneself - and so is distinguished
    Without praising oneself - and so has merit
    Without boasting about oneself - and so is lasting
    Because he does not contend, the world cannot contend with him
    [


    Again, the meaning here seems muddled. It again seems to say “do this, and accomplish your goals.” Flaunting, presuming, praising or boasting about oneself are all to be avoided. At the same time, being an example to the world, being seen clearly, being distinguished, having merit, and lasting are things we are not supposed to care about, but Lao Tzu is offering them to us as a reward for following the Tao. As if you can have anything you want, you just have to stop wanting it. Maybe he is playing with this irony intentionally.

    The last line of this stanza seems to refer back to the first two lines – don’t resist, bend, be flexible. Relax, release, surrender. Not to achieve anything or gain any advantage. With no intention. No action. Wait for the mud to settle.

    What the ancients called "the one who yields and remains whole"
    Were they speaking empty words?
    Sincerity becoming whole, and returning to oneself


    This stanza refers back to the previous lines and asks “Is all this true?” Then what I guess is supposed to be a summary line – “Sincerity becoming whole and returning to oneself.” The Feng and English version makes more sense to me and seems more consistent with the verse as a whole.

    Be really whole,
    And all things will come to you.


    Be really whole – follow the Tao, be your true self. Again “all things will come to you” seems ambiguous and contradictory.

    Excerpts from Ellen Marie Chen commentary

    This chapter arrives at an ethic of self-preservation and self-fulfillment by the central teaching of non-contention (pu cheng). The way to fully develop one’s potential is by avoiding the harmful influences that can shorten life, not, therefore, through struggle or warfare, but through humility and yielding. The Ho-shang Kung commentary considers the entire chapter the ethics of survival.

    The first line “Bent, thus preserved whole” describes how a plant weathers a storm. The unbending will be mowed down but the bent will survive the destructive forces (ch. 76). This must have been the common wisdom of the time. The I-ching, Hsi-tz’u, II, chapter 5, says: “The measuring worm draws itself together for the sake of .expanding forward [hsin, see ch. 21]. Dragons and snakes hibernate for the sake of preserving their lives” (R. Wilhelm, 1967: 338). Similarly “the hollow,” like the valley (ch. 39), will be filled, the worn-out turns and becomes new (ch. 15), those with little shall receive more, but those who have much shall have their possessions taken away from them (chs. 36, 44, 77).

    This logic of reversion is even more eloquently expressed in the Sermon on the Mount:

    Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
    Blessed are ye that hunger now, for you shall be filled.
    Blessed are ye that weep now, for you shall laugh. . . (Luke 6: 20-26)

    While both texts can be construed today as preaching passive acceptance of a miserable fate with the promise of a better future—hence Marx’s indictment against religion as the opium of the people—they differ as to the manner of fulfillment. The Gospel promises readjustment of justice in the next world, implying that affairs in this world are not amenable to change for the better. The Tao Te Ching, as the next stanza makes clear, is not meant to console but to teach the art of surviving intact and accomplishing what one sets out to do in this world without resorting to conflict or warfare. They are practical instructions on how to succeed in life.
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