Verse Fifty-OneFor today's verse, I'm simply going to showcase the words and thoughts of Diane Dreher. I think her analysis is spot on!
Way-making (dao) gives things their life,
And their particular efficacy (de) is what nurtures them.
Events shape them,
And having a function consummates them.
It is for this reason that all things (wanwu) honor way-making
And esteem efficacy.
As for the honor directed at way-making
And the esteem directed at efficacy,
It is really something that just happens spontaneously (ziran)
Without anyone having ennobled them.
Way-making gives them life and nurtures them,
Rears and develops them.
It brings them to fruition and maturation,
Nourishes and guards over them.
Way-making gives things life
Yet does not manage them.
It assists them
Yet makes no claim upon them.
It rears them
Yet does not lord it over them.
It is this that is called profound efficacy.
~ Roger Ames and David Hall translation ~
Here's a bit more:The Unity of the individual with nature is central to Taoist philosophy...the Chinese character for nature includes the character for a person with arms outstretched to signify "great," topped by another horizontal line which represents the sky over our heads. Thus do we become great by recognizing our part in the harmony of nature.
The ancient Chinese saw each person as a microcosm, a world in miniature. In elaborate descriptions, they equated our heads with the heavens, our feet with the earth, our veins with rivers, our many bones with the 365 days of the year, our changing emotions with the changing weather. Diseases in humans, like disorders in the world, were caused by imbalance.
A similar vision once prevailed in the West. From the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, Europeans saw themselves as microcosms, small versions of the world around them, believing that a great chain of being connected all life...This unified vision was lost when scientific and industrial revolutions developed a new mechanistic paradigm. God became the Divine watchmaker who left the world to run for itself. Factories reduced individuals to specialized parts, cogs in a machine. The sense of life as a sentient, organic whole was replaced by the frantic pace and fragmentation of modern life. People began to measure their worth in terms of productivity -- output -- as if we'd all become machines.
The western world is now on the edge of a new paradigm, and science again leads the way, this time affirming a more holistic vision. From physics we learn the world is composed of dynamic energy patterns...The circle comes round again as we realize once more that no one is an island. We're all intrinsically linked in the dynamic web of life.
This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.Non-Tao people see the world as a collection of disparate parts. Tao people see the underlying unity. By meditating on its shifting cycles they learn personal and planetary balance.
Staying close to nature dispels our illusions of separateness, the excessively developed ego which Taoists call ying (literally "being full of oneself") and Christians call the sin of pride. Nature humbles us, making us see we're only part of an infinitely larger whole. From nature's slow evolving cycles, we learn patience and detachment.