A sage gift for you

It isn’t often I find what I think will be my book-of-the-year before the 12 days of Christmas are completed. Consider this reference as my sage/magi gift to you — may it be more pleasing than gold, frankincense, or myrrh.

The Activist’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for a Modern Revolution by William Martin

The days of Lao Tzu (to whom the Tao Te Ching is attributed) were a time of great troubles and disequalibrium. A time of warring states sounds very contemporary. May this book guide you through the troubles and distractions of this day.

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Walking the Tao — A Video Tour by William Martin

The author also has a video reflection on each chapter of the Tao De Ching. On his website, the latest (Chapter 81) is found first and it takes a lot to get to the start (Chapter 1). The following links will take you from 1 to 81 (note: Chapters 51 & 52 appear misnumbered but are correct below). There are those on this list who have incorporated my jottings as part of their morning meditation. If you are one who attends more to the visual and the interpersonal, this video series might aid your next step into the Tao Te Ching.

Note: Each chapter has a link to the next one near the bottom of the page. This list will help folks who would like to find a particular Chapter.

1 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/15/walking-the-tao-chapter-1/

2 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/16/walking-the-tao-chapter-2/

3 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/17/walking-the-tao-chapter-3/

4 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/18/walking-the-tao-chapter-4/

5 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/19/walking-the-tao-chapter-5/

6 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/20/walking-the-tao-chapter-6/

7 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/21/walking-the-tao-chapter-7/

8 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/22/walking-the-tao-chapter-8/

9 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/23/walking-the-tao-chapter-9/

10 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/24/walking-the-tao-chapter-10/

11 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/25/walking-the-tao-chapter-11/

12 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/26/walking-the-tao-chapter-12/

13 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/27/walking-the-tao-chapter-13/

14 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/28/walking-the-tao-chapter-14/

15 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/29/walking-the-tao-chapter-15/

16 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/30/walking-the-tao-chapter-16/

17 – https://williammartin.org/2022/08/31/walking-the-tao-chapter-17/

18 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/01/walking-the-tao-chapter-18/

19 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/02/walking-the-tao-chapter-19/

20 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/03/walking-the-tao-chapter-20/

21 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/04/walking-the-tao-chapter-21/

22 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/05/walking-the-tao-chapter-22/

23 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/06/walking-the-tao-chapter-23/

24 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/07/walking-the-tao-chapter-24/

25 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/08/walking-the-tao-chapter-25/

26 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/09/walking-the-tao-chapter-26/

27 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/10/walking-the-tao-chapter-27/

28 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/11/walking-the-tao-chapter-28/

29 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/12/walking-the-tao-chapter-29/

30 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/13/walking-the-tao-chapter-30/

31 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/14/walking-the-tao-chapter-31/

32 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/15/walking-the-tao-chapter-32/

33 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/16/walking-the-tao-chapter-33/

34 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/17/walking-the-tao-chapter-34/

35 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/18/walking-the-tao-chapter-35/

36 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/19/walking-the-tao-chapter-36/

37 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/20/walking-the-tao-chapter-37/

38 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/21/walking-the-tao-chapter-38/

39 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/22/walking-the-tao-chapter-39/

40 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/23/walking-the-tao-chapter-40/

41 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/25/walking-the-tao-chapter-41/

42 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/26/walking-the-tao-chapter-42/

43 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/27/walking-the-tao-chapter-43/

44 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/28/walking-the-tao-chapter-44/

45 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/29/walking-the-tao-chapter-45/

46 – https://williammartin.org/2022/09/30/walking-the-tao-chapter-46/

47 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/01/walking-the-tao-chapter-47/

48 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/02/walking-the-tao-chapter-48/

49 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/03/walking-the-tao-chapter-49/

50 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/04/walking-the-tao-chapter-50/

51 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/05/walking-the-tao-chapter-52/

52 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/06/walking-the-tao-chapter-52-2/

53 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/07/walking-the-tao-chapter-53/

54 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/08/walking-the-tao-chapter-54/

55 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/09/walking-the-tao-chapter-55/

56 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/10/walking-the-tao-chapter-56/

57 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/11/walking-the-tao-chapter-57/

58 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/12/walking-the-tao-chapter-58/

59 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/13/walking-the-tao-chapter-59/

60 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/14/walking-the-tao-chapter-60/

61 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/15/walking-the-tao-chapter-61/

62 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/16/walking-the-tao-chapter-62/

63 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/17/walking-the-tao-chapter-63/

64 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/18/walking-the-tao-chapter-64/

65 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/19/walking-the-tao-chapter-65/

66 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/20/walking-the-tao-chapter-66/

67 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/21/walking-the-tao-chapter-67/

68 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/22/walking-the-tao-chapter-68/

69 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/23/walking-the-tao-chapter-69/

70 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/24/walking-the-tao-chapter-70/

71 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/25/walking-the-tao-chapter-71/

72 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/26/walking-the-tao-chapter-72/

73 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/27/walking-the-tao-chapter-73/

74 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/28/walking-the-tao-chapter-74/

75 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/29/walking-the-tao-chapter-75/

76 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/30/walking-the-tao-chapter-76/

77 – https://williammartin.org/2022/10/31/walking-the-tao-chapter-77/

78 – https://williammartin.org/2022/11/01/walking-the-tao-chapter-78/

79 – https://williammartin.org/2022/11/02/walking-the-tao-chapter-79/

80 – https://williammartin.org/2022/11/03/walking-the-tao-chapter-80/

81 – https://williammartin.org/2022/11/04/walking-the-tao-chapter-81/

Tao Te Next?

Tao Te Next?

I am wondering what to do with any of these Tao Te responses. Suggestions are welcome.

At this point, I am leaning toward going back through the Tao Te Ching without hewing as closely to the form in which I received it — Tao Te Ching Lao Tzu, translated by Gia-Fu Feng (馮家福 Feng Jia-fu, 1919–1985) and Jane English. This would be a form similar to my Slow-Reading the Gospel of Mark.

Should this come to pass, I hope it will be a better representation of how the ancient images might be received in this day. If you are interested in reading other English translations (at no charge), the largest collection online is at https://terebess.hu/english/tao/gia.html. 

Thank you to those who have read here, especially to those who sent comments and questions. If another blog is begun, it will continue at wildernessurgency.org, along with the blogs about Genesis, Mark, and the Tao Te Ching. Unless you unsubscribe below, you will receive copies of whatever strikes me next.

If you are in the mood for some Holiday Humor, I recommend my brother’s book that has just been published — Not Another Newsletter!: Content Free by Design. It would also make a lovely stocking-stuffer or gift. As they say on the back of the book:

What do you do when you want to send holiday greetings to far-flung friends and family, but you don’t have anything to report on and don’t want to just sign a card? Well, perhaps you sit down once a year and write a letter intended to inform, amuse or maybe even offend friends and family. That’s what the authors did, and so many folks claimed to like it and requested back issues that this book was born. If you’re not informed, amused or offended after reading it, the authors just wasted more paper and ink.

Tao Te – Overview

I am in the process of publishing a book by Thomas D’Alessio that readers here may appreciate. I will send a note when it is available. Below is one of his definitions that may be helpful in your further reflection on the Tao Te verses.

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the great central generating force of Life, the Universe and Everything. The Kosmos, the Cosmos, and the Mikrokosmos. Plus everything in your big backyard, inter-galactically speaking.

Here is Tao One:

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name:
This appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.
(translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)

Some definitions:

Tao means Way. Not the way, or a way, just way.

 Tao named is what we know. All of it, every last bit of it. It is the way of knowing, the kataphatic way, the source of ten-thousand things (which is to say, what Douglas Adams called Life, the Universe, and Everything).

Tao nameless, that is, Tao undefined, is what precedes all-that-is, gives rise to all-that-is, sometimes called emptiness or pure empty awareness. Words can only back you up so far and then you just have to let go and rest in it, and then there is no it, no rest, no I.

Ever desireless means always rid yourself of desires (everything clung to must be let go) in order to observe its secrets.

Ever desiring means always allow yourself to have desires (connection is good) in order to observe its manifestations.

Darkness within darkness means we don’t know what we don’t know and there is more in that ocean deep and wide than there is in the teaspoon of what we know, but knowing that we don’t know is a gateway.

If Tao sounds a lot like “you are evolution of carbon to consciousness, of stone into Spirit; you are involution of Spirit into stone, a manifestation of Spirit in time and space, as time and space” that’s because it is. The named and the nameless, all there in you.

If Tao sounds a lot like Spirit or Quality or even Elohim, it’s because it is. All those notions are sincere attempts to describe something that cannot be described. All those terms, and others like them, are a gate, a portal, a doorway, one that we must walk through if we are to avoid becoming error, ignorance, and discard along the Way.

Hearing v. Reading

After moving through Lao Tsu’s 81 insights on “way”, it becomes clear that reading is a surface encounter that is greatly enhanced by hearing/listening. If you did not read aloud or listen to another aural presentation (perhaps with music) there was much left unheard of the ancient voice. Even a computer’s voice aids understanding.

Here is one YouTube that speaks fragments of the Ching (book) of Tao Te:

To follow up on your following here, one option would be to purchase and read aloud the Tao Te Ching of your choice (I ran the translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English–updated translation through my experience and language preferences), but there are many “free” English translations available online at https://terebess.hu/english/tao/_index.html.


Tao Te – 81

true words do not charm
charming words don’t reach truth
good cannot be contended for
those claiming right are not good
the sure have not learned
the learned know they know not

the learned do not settle for the graspable
the more they invest in others the more they have
the more that is given abundantly returns
the Tao of heavens does no earthly harm
the wise proceed without effort

Tao Te – 80

delight in a small country with fewer people
there are machines enhancing labor a hundred times
they are not needed
the people acknowledge death and find life close to home
swift transportation is available but unused
military equipment is at hand but no parades
spreadsheets abound but the economy flows without accounting
food is healthy clothes simple homes secure
happiness abounds
neighbors are near
interactions clear
fences leave each in peace
all the while the people grow wise and die easy

Tao Te – 78

water – nothing softer yielding
excellent for assaulting strong solids
the best
weak overtakes strong
supple outlasts rigidity
everywhere on earth this is known
yet it is not applied in lives
a wise one says
receive the grief of the people to guide them
receive a country’s failings
become fit to engage the heavens and earth
such wisdom is not as paradoxical as it seems

Tao Te – 77

the heavens of Tao bend like a bow
those high are lowered the lowly raised
were the string too long it is cut to size
if not long enough stretched

the heavens of Tao receives back the great surplus
and gives to those bereft of enough
this is not the way of those on earth
they take from those without enough
and load those with too much more

who gives away their more than enough
wise ones

wise ones work without award
achieve the needed in the course of life
refrain from trumpeting their world

Tao Te – 76

just born begins flexible and weak
death ends stiff and hard
living plants are green and sap-filled
in death they are gray withered dry

disciples of death are stiff unbending
disciples of life gently yield

formulaic armies lose battles
an unbending tree easily breaks

the hard and strong trip and fall
the soft and weak bounce