Friday, May 6, 2011

A Simple Explanation of the Tao Te Ching -- Verse 31

The Tao Te Ching, or Book of the Way, is an ancient Chinese collection of 81 wisdom verses. In the "Simple Explanation” model, the Tao spoken of by Lao Tzu refers to the metaversal information and principles of organization that have informed our universe since the moment before creation; also known as the Universal Unit of Consciousness. Non-being refers to clearing your personal UC of earthly memes and karma. Non-action refers to allowing the original universal UC to direct your personal UC for the greater good. Here is the 31st verse of the Tao Te Ching, which I have translated directly into Simple Explanation terminology from Jonathan Star's verbatim translation.

Verse 31
Even the finest instruments of war cannot bring good fortune;
All units of consciousness  seem to detest them.
Therefore, one who is aligned with the Universal UC avoids them.

Consciousness prefers the passive, the weak--the "feminine."
War gives preference to the active, the strong, the "masculine."
Instruments of war are the least fortunate of all tools, in opposition to the instruments preferred by the indwelling Lord--the Universal UC.
They should only be used when unavoidably compelled.

Detached restraint is the best policy.
Even in victory there should be no boasting, but rather find beauty in the Universal UC.
Truly, those who find joy in killing others cannot expect to instantiate Heaven on earth!

Joyful events celebrate the feminine;
Sorrow and calamity prefer the masculine.
The second-in-command occupies the masculine position on the left,
The commander-in-chief takes  the place on the right, or feminine side--
An arrangement on par with a funeral rite.
Accordingly, killing others causes all UCs to weep with sorrow.

Victory in battle is, therefore, an opportunity for mourning, and should be treated as one.
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This verse is most obviously about how we should react to war and the slaughter of war. Simply put, killing an "enemy" is only a last resort, one absolutely compelled by circumstances. Even then, victory is never sweet, never an occasion for boasting or celebration. For, according to Verse 31, good cannot come from it. "Heaven on Earth" will not result from war--it's axiomatic.

Secondly, this verse talks a lot about left and right, feminine and masculine. These are references to Yin and Yang, not "women" and "men" per se.  Here's what it says about this polarity: consciousness requires a yin state of mind, whether it be your own personal unit of consciousness or the Universal Unit of Consciousness with which your personal UC longs to be united. To be or become conscious, one must cultivate and dwell in the passive, feminine, yin state; which is to say, "receptive." 
The rising yang is the white area on the left.
The sinking yin is the black area on the right.
War, conflict, and killing are evidence of passionate yang states--the masculine, "active" mode. Verse 31 is advancing the axiom that the mode of being required by war is antithetical to that required by consciousness. Lao Tzu equates beauty and joy with consciousness and being in alignment with the Universal UC. This is why he equates killing with sorrow--because to wield the sword, the gun, or the explosive vest is never the metaversal plan, or "will of God," and will never bring the desired joyful outcome.

Lastly, here's how I interpret the part about the second-in-command occupying the yang position and the commander occupying the yin position: when seeking enlightenment, or alignment with the Universal UC or God's will, your personal UC needs to hold the commander's position in your soul. If your UC is in control, rather than your "little me" mind or your emotional yang passions, you will be in the passive, yin state and able to channel the Universal UC. In that state, it is just fine for the passions and mind to be second-in-command; this is how it should be. When those roles are reversed, as they are for most people whose theatre of action is in the material world, their yang state precludes the receptivity required for enlightenment. Therefore, when, with full consciousness of the tragic consequences, the UC must preside over war, this is an occasion for mourning, as if presiding over a funeral.