Thursday, May 04, 2006


People can perceive beauty only because of ugliness
People can perceive good only because of what is not good.

In this way:
Existence and nonexistence produce each other
Difficult and easy complement each other
Long and short put each other in perspective
High and low rest on each other
Treble and bass harmonize each other
Before and after follow each other.

That's why the wise person observes non-action in his activities
And practices silence in his teaching.

The ten thousand things come to him
and yet he doesn't deny them
He creates things, but doesn't claim to own them.
He finishes things, and forgets them.

Because he forgets them, he is not forgotten.

This verse seems to have two major parts, both introducing ideas very common in the Tao Te Ching. The first part, from lines 1-9, talks about how opposite concepts are really intertwined and dependant on each other for their meaning. This idea is exemplified by the famous black and white Tajitu symbol showing Yin and Yang. The white and black aren't totally seperate; there is a bit of each in its opposite, in keeping with the ideas in this verse.

The second part of Verse Two is also on a topic that gets discussed a lot in the Tao Te Ching: the way a wise person (or "sage" as many translations have it) follows the Way by not doing too much or being too active. He does things, but he doesn't overdo them, and he isn't attached to them. The last line is sometimes translated as "Because he forgets himself, he is not forgotten." In either version the meaning is similar: the sage is humble, doesn't seek the acclaim of others, and doesn't dwell on his accomplishments.

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