Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Simple Explanation of the Tao Te Ching -- Verse 2

The following translation of Verse 2 of the Tao Te Ching was arrived at by employing Jonathan Star's verbatim translation provided at the end of his "Definitive Edition" of the Tao Te Ching. For more information about Star's book and my translation process, please read the blog article, "Process Note: Interpreting the Tao Te Ching." Please compare my translation to one you may have on hand; I think you will find this meta-translation helpful.

Verse 2, The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Every manifested unit of consciousness within our Universe is attracted to beauty in all its delightful forms. Each attraction co-creates its own polar opposite--the negative meme of "repulsion."
All recognize virtue whenever it arises as "virtue"--this distinction alone gives rise to the "lack of virtue" meme.

In the same way, "existence" and "non-existence" beget each other in reciprocal interdependence.

Difficult and easy perfectly complement one another,
Long is relative only to short,
High is relative only to low.

A musical note relies upon a voice to sing it just as a voice depends upon having a note to sing.

Front and back, before and after, future and past--self-referential, circular definitions.
This is why those living in tune with the Universal UC deal quietly with the affairs of daily living, administering metaversal principles to do what needs to be done through action rather than words. Every decision is executed appropriately, as needed, without attachment to either recognition or outcome, and once the task is completed, it is forgotten.

Because of this attitude, accomplishments are eternal.

What I take away from this verse is that all of the memes we deal with in daily living are enmeshed with their polar opposites. In other words, this is a universe of relativities and relationships and whenever we push in one direction, we wind up pulling in the other direction. The Buddha among others said that all suffering is due to attachment. Verse 2 says this is because attachment is fused to its dialectical opposite--repulsion. The Golden Mean advises staying to the middle of dialectics so that neither attraction nor repulsion is activated, as a means of avoiding suffering.

Verse 2 goes a step beyond advising staying centered. It gives the example of the Wise Sage (called by the Simple Explanation "those living in tune with the Universal UC") avoiding memes altogether by doing "what needs to be done through action rather than words." When one's Self UC is fully aligned with the Universal UC's notion of the best course of action for any moment and place, then decisions will seem to come automatically and they will be the best possible response to the situation. There will be no relativistic memes invoked because "thinking" will not be involved with the response. Naturally, since one's Ego was not involved with the decision-making, there is no call or desire for recognition or even attachment to outcome. It was the Universe's call; it's the Universe's score. Except that the Universal UC does not keep egoistic scores, which are limiting and relativistic, as Verse 2 points out; therefore, such accomplishments are eternal.