Monday, September 28, 2015

Meditating on the world's wisdom ~ Taoism

76.  Hardness

My twin great-grandsons at 3 weeks old
Living people
are soft and tender.
Corpses are hard and stiff.
The ten thousand things,
the living grass, the trees,
are soft, pliant.
Dead, they're dry and brittle.
So hardness and stiffness
go with death;
tenderness, softness,
go with life.
And the hard sword fails,
the stiff tree's felled.
The hard and great go under.
The soft and weak stay up.

This translation is from Ursula K. Le Guin's 1997 book, Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way.  She added notes for some of the 81 chapters, which she calls poems.  I meditated on what she wrote about this one.
"In an age when hardness is supposed to be the essence of strength, and even the beauty of women is reduced nearly to the bone, I welcome this reminder that tanks and tombstones are not very adequate role models, and that to be alive is to be vulnerable."
I started my meditations on several versions of the Tao Te Ching because of this article which quoted Lao Tzu's #76. By checking this online site, I decided she quoted Stephen Mitchell's translation.  It's much easier to check online than to page through each of my hard copies of many translations of the Tao Te Ching, some of which are still in boxes.

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