When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.
Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.
There is no way to determine the merit of anything, or assess value, if you don’t have something to compare it to. While we see “wealth” as a good thing, it is only because we know what poverty is. In the United States, where almost everyone has running water, electricity, and certainly enough food, we still see “poverty” in relative terms. In remote African villages, without any of the above, the lives lived by our poor seem rich. We are continually offered choices our ancestors could never fathom outside the realm of witchcraft. Without the latest smartphone, we feel deprived – we all do.
“Marilyn” Munster looks very much like her iconic namesake, yet her monsterous adopted family perpetually attributes her woes to her homliness. What is beautiful in the Muster family is not what is beautiful to the viewer. Beauty has been named, so it’s opposite is ugly.
Good and bad are creations of one and other. All opposites create each other due to the schism from the “darkness” of unity from which emerge opposites for comparison. To articulate what is Good and Evil is not the jurisdiction of the Tao de Ching. You go with Tao, or against it. Sometimes in between. That’s as close as the book will get to dogma.
Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.
This is the first appearance of what I see as a parallel to the Matthew 6:28-34 in the Sermon on the Mount.
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The mystical vein that runs like a low river through the New Testament, if you are open to receiving it. In the same way, if you are open to receiving it, beautifully parallels this verse of the Tao de Ching. Just as you have to look past dogma to find the experiential essence of religion, you must look past the structure of past and future to experience Tao. This theme will re-emerge again and again in the book, as do the simple yet eternal truths of the Way of Tao. If you are open to the Tao, you need not devise a particular future. By allowing the Tao to be a guide, the future is as it should be and by being aligned with the Tao, becomes part of the universal, eternal flow.