Tao Te Ching, Verse 72: Inspiration and awe

This particular verse resonates with me having recently returned from gashuku. I can recall a particular instance towards the end of the week where I was walking through the bushland, waiting for one of the seniors to arrive. I looked down and saw a tiny red flower with small tendrils extending from its core, and upon each of these tendrils was a tiny drop of dew. The effect was quite startling- it was as if the flower were wearing a circlet of diamonds. Shortly after I found a plant that had been covered in a fine layer of spiderwebs, as if a soft cotton mat had been spread across the ground for some kind of small animal to sleep on. Another time, I was about halfway up a mountain when I stopped and turned around. The sun had just risen and was casting golden rays through the murky clouds, illuminating lush and verdant fields throughout the countryside. I took a deep breath and felt humbled that be alive, with the great privilege of bearing witness to the beauty of the world. It seems so unusual now to be bored or disinterested in a world that is so full of wonder.

In another instance, the wind upon the mountainside was so powerful and unpredictable that it was difficult to walk in a straight line. I looked out into the storm and laughed, because it seemed absurd that I, one tiny, fleshy little person, thought I could possibly stand against the powers of Gaia. Humans have become deeply arrogant by supposing themselves the most important organisms on earth. How little we are compared to the great powers of nature!

Verse 72 [my interpretation]

When people forget how awe-inspiring the world is,
disaster strikes.
When people do not humble themselves before the powers of nature,
greater power arises.

Do not place limits on yourself.
Do not reject the life you were born into.
Do not resist the natural course of your life.
In this way, you will never have cause to be bored with life
as you recognise all the wonder around you.

Thus the sage knows who he is
without being egotistical.
He loves himself,
but places no extra value on his life.
He values what is within to what is without.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s