Truthful words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not truthful. Good words
are not persuasive; persuasive words are not good. He who knows has no wide
learning; he who has wide learning does not know.
Beautiful is biased. When I think of something as beautiful there is always a kind of exclusivity to it—ugliness has been excluded. How can truth be limited? Of course truth is beautiful, but it is also so much more. It’s also mysteriously deep and all encompassing. Truth, like God, images the Reality that simply can’t be confined by descriptions—even ascribing a word to it limits it, which brings us back to the beginning—The name that can be named Is not the constant name [see ch. 1]
Beautiful and ugly offset each other. Thus, it would be just as correct to say Truthful words are not ugly (either). This reminds me of The whole world recognizes the beautiful as the beautiful, yet this is only the ugly [see ch. 2]. Both beautiful and ugly are complementary, and like, Something and Nothing, produce each other [see ch. 2].
I felt the urge to acquire wide learning as a youth. As I recall, I imagined that such learning would increase my security and personal power. I’m less draw to learning now, which is ironic, because all my years of learning have shown me how little I know. I should be even more desperate for wide learning. One thing is different now—I sense very deeply—know?—the profound mystery. In a sense, I now accept and find my home in it, without having to figure it out. The void has become comfortable—it is where I shall spend my eternity.
I’m drawn to wide learning as a way to avoid difficulty. I used to believe that the wider my learning, the easier life would be. Now I know that the difficult and the easy complement each other [see ch. 2]. So of course, even the sage treats some things as difficult [see ch. 73]. It’s just a part of life’s reality that I needed to accept. Buddha had it right in his first Noble Truth: ‘Life is suffering’. Accepting this actually diminishes life’s suffering!
As I come to perceive—know—my connection to the universe, the relevance of worldly wide learning becomes irrelevant, and even gets in the way of knowing, when I depend on it. Wide learning is like a by path off the way. The great way is easy, yet people prefer by-paths [see ch. 53].
Persuasive words are not good puts me in mind of ‘dramatic license’. It is that artistry that makes for persuasive words. If you give the complete story, it’s boring. Of course, this also applies to political slogans, sales pitches, gossip and ‘news’ in general. The most infamous example of Persuasive words is Hitler rhetoric.
I use persuasive words when I’m trying to get someone to agree with my point of view—to conquer them. The counter-point to this approach is listening and using words to make a connection and understand. I guess questions come closest to good words in that they can deepen understanding.
Persuasive words make up a large part of gossip. The intent of the gossiper is the draw the gossipee into the drama. It is very infectious, and must spring from the tribal instinct to take sides.
The sage does not hoard.
Having bestowed all he has on others, he has yet more;
Having given all he has to others, he is richer still.
I have so many more things now than I did as a youth, and yet I’m far less attached. The extent of my own hoarding has only been revealed by the loss of what I treasure—how gracefully I accept it.
When I think of bestowing all I have on others as giving all my material where-with-all away, it’s—to my mind—an unattainable ideal. If I am to live, then I must use stuff. If I were a monk in the cave, then I would use other people’s stuff. What I really have and hoard are my expectations. As I mature, I’m better able to give these up. With each expectation I relinquish, I gain increased peace of mind. In the end, bestowing acceptance on others is the greatest giving I can do. When I give up hoarding my own ideals and accept reality, I really am richer still—it’s so peaceful. The sage has no mind of his own. He takes as his own the mind of the people [see ch. 49].
Hoarding is an attitude to life. I attach myself to things, opinions, the status quo, and so on, when I’m insecure. This clinging is a SYMPTOM of an inner fear. Such hoarding eases as I get beyond this fear by finding security in mysterious emptiness—what others might call God. When I’m close to this, my hoarding vanishes. I’m able to bestow the status quo and follow the way. This is known as matching the sublimity of heaven [see ch. 68]. I can’t get rid of fear nor hoarding—these only subside when I know and feel connected. This is the treasure that religion offers me.
Thoreau said ‘a man is rich in proportion to what he can do without’. The more content I am, the simpler my life becomes. The more content I am, the more I stay here and now.
Letting others be responsible is another way of giving all I have to others. The compulsion to save others from the consequences of their actions stems from my own fear of failure—I wish to protect others just as I wish to be protected. Of course this is a healthy social dynamic up to a point; it’s just all too easy to go beyond that point. This is especially important in raising kids. Protecting them from responsibility / consequences makes for a very chaotic family life.
The way of heaven benefits and does not harm; the way of the sage is bountiful
and does not contend.
A hurricane (or other act of nature) comes through and harms those in its path. How does this reconcile with The way of heaven benefits and does not harm? I think of harm as an attitude, not an act. Harm results from self centered action. The favour I seek for myself must come at the expense of others. It is the way of heaven to show no favouritism. [see ch. 79].
I feel the urge to harm when I am frustrated. And I get frustrated when desires rule. Buddha’s Second Truth gets right to the point: ‘The cause of suffering is lust’ (desire). Looking at it this way, all the harm that mankind does stems from his own suffering soul. If we were a more content specie, we would inflict less harm on ourselves and nature.
Harm is a symptom of desire for more, which in turn is a symptom of the lack of contentment. When I’m content, I don’t desire. Hence in being content, one will always have enough. [see ch. 46].