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Writings and Readings Blog

Madhu Bazaz Wangu

Thirtieth Chapter: Tao Te Ching

Thirtieth Chapter: Tao-te Ching The sage, who is attuned to Tao, warns the ruler against the use of arms for conquest. Weapons often turn upon the wielder. Wherever armies are stationed, briers and thorns grow. Great wars are always followed by famine. A good general stops when he achieves his purpose. He does not parade his victory. He does not boast his ability. He does not feel proud. He rather regrets that he has not been able to prevent the war. He must never think of conquering others by force. Whatever strains with force will soon decay. Because it is contrary to the Tao. Whatever is not attuned to the Way of Tao will soon perish. # As I understand it: Living a conflict free existence is in harmony with the Tao. Force creates a counterforce and this exchange goes on...

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Twenty-Ninth Chapter

Twenty-Ninth Chapter: Tao-te Ching Do you think that you can take over the universe and improve it? I do not believe that it can be done. Universe is a totality in itself. It cannot be improved or controlled. Trying to control leads to ruin. Trying to grasp leads to loss. Let your life unfold naturally. Know that it too is complete in itself. There is time for being ahead. And there is time for being behind. A time for being in motion and a time for being at rest. A time for being strong and a time for being exhausted. A time for being safe and a time for being in danger. The sage discards the extreme, the extravagant, and the excessive. For him all of life is a movement toward perfection. # As I understand it: What has happened...

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Twenty-Eighth Chapter: Tao-te Ching

Twenty-Eighth Chapter: Tao-te Ching He who knows the male (active force) and keeps to the female (passive force) Becomes humble like the deep valley of the world. Being the valley of the world, He will never depart from eternal virtue, And become like a child again. He who knows the white (glory) and yet keeps to the black (humility) Becomes model for the world. He will not err and move eternally in the path of virtue, To be the fountain of the world is To live the life of eternal virtue. And when the uncarved block is carved Its original qualities are lost. The sage preserves his original qualities so he can govern. The virtuous leader governs the least. # As I understand it: The Self, that has balanced its opposites, is humble like a lowly valley. Her power never fades and she is childlike. Sage...

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Twenty-Seventh Chapter: Tao-te Ching

Twenty-Seventh Chapter: Tao-te Ching A wise traveler leaves no trace. A speaker of truth has no flaws. Generosity keeps no account. The door he shuts needs no bolts, yet cannot be opened. The knot he ties needs no rope, yet cannot be untied. Like the sage help all beings impartially, rejecting no one. Waste no opportunity, abandon no one. This is called following the Way. The good man is the bad man's teacher. The bad is the good man's job. If the teacher is not respected, And the student not cared for, Confusion will arise, however clever one is. This is the great mystery. # As I understand it: The sage's complete trust in himself and in his inner Tao changes his outlook on life. He lives by an inner light. He speaks the truth, leaves no tracks behind and is always...

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Feeling The Distance Goddesses Once Again

In the mid seventies when I arrived in the United States I heard people call Marilyn Monroe a goddess but Virgin Mary who had all the characteristics of being a goddess was denied that status. To me things seemed upside down. In India, I did not pay much attention to goddesses, but they were everywhere. Friends and family talked about the efficacious power (Sakti) of the Great Goddess (Devi). The many energies of Devi in the form of various goddesses is a common belief. During yearly festivals I viewed, with much interest, their graceful iconographic forms. The celebrations of Navaratra, Shivratri and Diwali brought to focus the images aflame with exquisite grace as well as sinister inelegance. The goddess myths and images awoke feelings of aesthetic delight and mystery. When I...

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Introducing Goddesses

Dear Readers, The last month's Goddess Lecture Series at the Northland Public Library was well received. Thanks to all the participants for insightful questions and lively comments. When I started the series I did not realize that the participants would not be familiar with Hindu goddesses. Their religious background is Judeo-Christian. The Christian trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit are understood (for example in visual arts, poetry and literature) as males. There is no concept of goddess. The absence of goddesses has left an empty space in this religious worldview. The pious do hold the Virgin Mary in a place of high esteem but she doesn't have the same level of holiness as the trinity. Theologians have left that space empty. There is a serious need to fill that gap...

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Twenty-Sixth Chapter: Tao-te Ching

Twenty-Sixth Chapter: Tao-te Ching The heavy is the root of the light. The tranquility is the ruler of the haste. Therefore the wise person is calm In the midst of all activities. Even at the sight of opulence, He is not influenced. Why should a ruler fidget like a fool? If you fidget and flit, you lose touch with your root. Haste does not make you the master of the Self. # As I Understand it:     Carefully tend an inner landscape in which roots are firm and the surroundings peaceful. Be firmly centered. Luxuriate in the silence. Your circumstances or surroundings, opulent or poor, should not rule over you. Stay calm regardless of what is happening around you. You have innate ability to choose calmness. Next time you confront a situation that sways you or drives you crazy...

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Twenty-Fifth Chapter: Tao-te Ching

Twenty-Fifth Chapter: Tao-te Ching In the beginning, there was something undifferentiated and complete, Soundless, formless, singular, unchanging. Infinite. Eternal. The mother of the universe. I call it Tao. I call it Great. Great is boundless. Far-reaching. Constantly returning to the original point. Therefore the Way of the Tao is Great. Heaven is great. Earth is great. People are great. To know humanity, understand earth. To understand earth, know heaven. To know heaven, understand the Way. To know the Way, understand the Great within you. Knowing within, experience the Great without. # As I Understand it: This chapter resonates with the Hindu Upanishadic teaching that the cosmic energy (Brahman) is within each individual as Atman -- a pure, timeless energy that remains uncontaminated by form. This understanding has made me aware that there is something "more than" my mundane self. And that I am linked to...

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Twenty-Fourth Chapter

Twenty-Fourth Chapter: Tao-te Ching He who stands on tiptoe is not steady He who strides forward does not go far. He who shows off is not enlightened. He who boasts has not accomplished much. He who defines himself can't really know who he is. He who has power over others can't empower himself. He who clings to his work will create nothing that endures. From the point of view of Tao, these are all distasteful like tumor in the body. Those who possess Tao, do their jobs, then let go. # As I Understand it: Our superior qualities are hidden but become more prominent everyday. Boasting is conspicuous but what one boasts about gradually disappears. Instead of showing off seek an attitude of gratitude for the blessings of air, water, sun, health and natural beauty. Those who have tendency to control...

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Twenty-Third Chapter: Tao-te Ching

Twenty-Third Chapter: Tao-te Ching Nature says few words. For the same reason a whirlwind does not last a whole morning. Nor does a rainstorm last a whole day. What causes them? Heaven and Earth - Nature. Express yourself. Then say little. Exaggerated action cannot be sustained. If Heaven and Earth cannot sustain them, How much less can man. Those who follow the Way become one with the Way. Those who follow goodness become one with goodness. Those who stray from the Way and goodness, become one with failure. If you identify with the Way, its power flows through you. Act naturally Open yourself to the Tao, Then trust your natural responses. And everything will fall into place. # As I understand it: Do your task and let go of desire to push. Observe nature. It doesn't force. It moves through the seasons and, without saying much, produces...

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