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"A bad person is the good person's task."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 27

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


27

A good wanderer leaves no trace.

A good speaker does not stutter.

A good counter needs no calculator.

A good door needs no lock,

Still it can't be opened.

A good mooring needs no knot,

Still no one can untie it.


Therefore the sage takes care of all people,

Forsaking no one.

He takes care of all things,

Forsaking nothing.

This is called following the light.


So, a good person is the bad person's teacher.

A bad person is the good person's task.

The one who does not honor the teacher

And the one who does not honor the task,

Although ever so knowledgeable,

They are confused.

This is called the subtle essence.



Teacher and Student

The Eastern tradition is essentially focused on transmitting the wisdom of old to the coming generations. Everybody is primarily a student and a teacher, passing on knowledge and understanding in a chain without beginning or end. What we learn from our parents, we pass on to our children.

       Nothing is more important.

       In this chapter, Lao Tzu stresses this basic duty shared by all. The teacher must teach all he or she knows, the student must be devoted to learning what is taught. Whatever reason they might have for neglecting this duty, they are mistaken.

       Teaching is not the same as indoctrination. That would be intellectual molestation. True wisdom doesn't need force. It convinces by its own merit. Learning is no passive memorizing of the thoughts of others. It has to be done by active thinking, questioning, and coming to one's own conclusions.

       But if nothing is taught, then there is no basis for conclusions, and if nothing is learned there is nothing to conclude.


Good Skills

When Lao Tzu begins with a list of what good skills accomplish, he explains what can be reached by proper teaching. What we learn in the process is far from useless. Although teaching might be done mainly in theory, the benefits are practical as well.

       We excel if we pay attention to just about everything, and we progress from generation to generation by passing on our knowledge and our experiences.

       Thereby, we follow the light of every new dawn, when days follow one another in the same cyclic progression that generations do.

       The good and bad used in this chapter are not necessarily moral judgments on character, like we mostly use the words in the Western tradition.

       The Chinese word for good, shan, relates to skill, excellence, and being in accordance with nature, but also kindness. The expression for bad is simply a negation of good, pu shan, which is somebody lacking these qualities. No ill will is assumed.

       So, teaching is to help the student gain what was lacking.

© 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:


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Life Energy

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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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