Friday, April 30, 2010

The Way of Grandma

Between the two of us, Marcus and I own three or four Tao de Chings.  What is so appealing about this slight but hefty booklet for Chinese leaders?  The paradoxical truths offered open up a type of wisdom usually understood only by those who have lived a long life.  The verses teach that the path to strength is a yielding one.  The path to dignity is through an investment in what presents itself to you.  My favorite passages do this with a few turns of phrase that beckon you to sit back and contemplate the paradoxical nature of one's own efficacy.  Below are some of my favorites.  If I were to rename this book, I would call it "The Way of Grandma."  

"Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water,
Yet nothing can better overcome the hard and strong,
For they can neither control nor do away with it.

The soft overcomes the hard,
The yielding overcomes the strong;
Every person knows this,
But no one can practice it."

"Embracing the Way, you become embraced;
Breathing gently, you become newborn;
Clearing your mind, you become clear;
Nurturing your children, you become impartial;
Opening your heart, you become accepted;
Accepting the world, you embrace the Way.

Bearing and nurturing,
Creating but not owning,
Giving without demanding,
This is harmony."

"Accept and you become whole,
Bend and you straighten,
Empty and you fill,
Decay and you renew,
Want and you acquire,
Fulfill and you become confused.

The sage {grandmother} accepts the world
As the world accepts the Way;
{She} does not display {herself}, so is clearly seen,
Does not justify {herself}, so is recognized,
Does not boast, so is credited,
Does not pride {herself}, so endures,
Does not contend, so none contend against {her}.

The ancients said, 'Accept and you become whole',
Once whole, the world is as your home."

"Water overcomes the stone;
Without substance it requires no opening;
This is the benefit of taking no action.

Yet benefit without action,
And experience without abstraction,
Are practiced by very few."

"All the world says,
'I am important;
I am separate from all the world.
I am important because I am separate,
Were I the same, I could never be important.'

Yet here are three treasures
That I cherish and commend to you:
The first is compassion,
By which one finds courage.
The second is restraint,
By which one finds strength.
And the third is unimportance,
By which one finds influence.

Those who are fearless, but without compassion,
Powerful, but without restraint,
Or influential, yet important,
Cannot endure."

"Is the action of nature not unlike drawing a bow?
What is higher is pulled down, and what is lower is raised up;
What is taller is shortened, and what is thinner is broadened;
Nature's motion decreases those who have more than they need
And increases those who need more than they have.

It is not so with {Humans}.
{Humans} decrease{} those who need more than they have
And increase{} those who have more than they need.

To give away what you do not need is to follow the Way.
So the sage {grandmohter} gives without expectation,
Accomplishes without claiming credit,
And has no desire for ostentation."

About the Picture
I took this picture in a Chicago park.


Patricia said...

This was beautiful and reminded me of my own mother- Grandmother to many children!
thank you, Anne !

Spirit of a Dove said...

I am glad that you liked it and I was happy to honor your current journey with this post.