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"Until your last day, you are free from peril."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 16

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


16

Attain utmost emptiness.

Abide in steadfast stillness.


All things arise in unison.

Thereby we see their return.

All things flourish,

And each returns to its source.


Returning to the source is stillness.

It is returning to one's fate.

Returning to one's fate is eternal.

Knowledge of the eternal is realization.


Not knowing of the eternal leads to unfortunate errors.

Knowledge of the eternal is all-embracing.

To be all-embracing leads to righteousness,

Which is majestic.

To be majestic leads to the Heavenly.

To be Heavenly leads to the Way.


The Way is eternal.

Until your last day, you are free from peril.



The Cycle of Life

The universe is cyclic. Celestial bodies move in their strict orbits. On Earth we see the four seasons repeated endlessly. Other repetitions are the moon's monthly phases and the daily shift from sunrise to sunset. All living things are born, grow to maturity, and then pass away. This is the nature of things, whether we approve or not.

       Lao Tzu has no doubt that we should appreciate this, not only to be able to come to peace with it, but also so that we understand it. When we accept the cycle of life, we learn something about its patterns and the law that rules it all. That law is Tao, the Way. So, by recognizing the inevitable cycle of existence we are able to perceive and comprehend Tao.

       The empty stillness, of which Lao Tzu speaks in the first lines of this chapter, reminds us again of Zen. No doubt, he thinks of some kind of meditation, a pensive mood in which the cycles of life become clear. When you relax from your daily strife, you can notice the patterns of the world around you. You become aware of it all, because you reduce your own inner noise.

       Only when we see the cyclic nature of the whole world and all its living things, can we come to terms with the fact that this is inevitably true for ourselves as well. Each of us is bound by the cycle. None can escape it. Solace lies in the fact that we all share this basic fate, and that it goes on infinitely. So, although every single creature in the world has a limited life span, the world as a whole does not. In that sense we are all eternal, because we are part of it all.

       When we are aware of this, we learn to appreciate the time we have, and we don't embark on futile attempts to become immortal in one way or other. We should not strive to be glorified by posterity, since that's an illusion of little meaning, making no difference to us at present. Instead, our contribution should simply aim at the present – the world we are in, instead of the world yet to come.

       It's also the only way of serving the future properly.

       Living in the present, indifferent to what imprint it might make on the future, is to remain with Tao. That calms the mind and invigorates the body. Also, it keeps us out of unnecessary trouble or hardship.

© Stefan Stenudd.

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Tao Te Ching Explained


Preface


Introduction


Literature


The 81 Chapters of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
translated and explained by Stefan Stenudd.
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Tao Te Ching Explained


James Legge's Tao Te Ching


Aleister Crowley's Tao Te Ching


The 1st Chapter of Tao Te Ching in 76 Versions


Lao Tzu - Legendary Author of Tao Te Ching





My Taoism Books:


Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Te Ching

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.


Tao Quotes - the Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Quotes

The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. 389 quotes from the foremost Taoist classic, divided into 51 prominent topics. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.



My Other Websites:


I Ching Online

The 64 hexagrams of the Chinese classic I Ching and what they mean in divination. Try it online for free.


Qi Energy Exercises

The ancient Chinese life energy qi (chi) explained, with simple instructions on how to exercise it.


Life Energy

The many ancient and modern life force beliefs all over the world explained.


Creation Myths

Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient cosmology they reveal.


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Other Books by Stefan Stenudd:


Cosmos of the Ancients. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Cosmos of the Ancients

The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


QI - increase your life energy. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Qi - Increase Your Life Energy

The life energy qi (also chi or ki) explained, with exercises on how to awaken, increase and use it. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Aikido Principles. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Aikido Principles

Basic Concepts of the Peaceful Martial Art
Aikido principles, philosophy, and basic ideas. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Sunday Brunch with the World Maker. Novel by Stefan Stenudd. Sunday Brunch with the World Maker

Fiction. A brunch conversation slips into the mysterious, soon to burst beyond the realm of possibility. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction. Stefan Stenudd


About me

I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism and other East Asian traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.

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