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"Being is born out of non-being."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 40

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


40

Returning is the movement of the Way.

Yielding is the manner of the Way.


All things in the world are born out of being.

Being is born out of non-being.



A Cyclic Universe

The returning movement of Tao, the Way, is cyclic. Tao brings everything forward, and then back to its origin, to be brought forward yet again. This is the view on nature shared by most cultures, and for obvious reasons.

       Most of what takes place in nature is cyclic. Day and night take turns, the moon's phases are just as regular, as are the shifts of seasons through the year. Plants grow and then they wither. Animals have their lifespan, but also their offspring. That's the rhythm of mankind, too. Everywhere there is procreation, maybe including the universe as a whole.

       What to make of it, but a cyclic principle ruling existence?

       Although Tao is the instigator and instrument behind all these cycles, it accomplishes everything in the background, so that its role is hardly revealed. When we say that things happen of themselves, we unknowingly point out the work of Tao. The processes are carried out without apparent force. Things appear and disappear, move in their courses, and at no time do they show signs of being restricted or redirected.

       It's as if Tao makes it all happen by opening doors instead of closing them, by making way instead of showing the way. That's also the superior ideal for any leader. They should use encouragement instead of threats, and opportunity instead of constraint. Nobody is pleased with constantly seeing the back of another, blocking the view ahead. The leader who is not opposed is the one showing the way by stepping out of it.

       Being and non-being, yu and wu, are old concepts in Chinese thought, as well as in philosophy around the world. Some things deteriorate and disappear, as if they exist no more. Is that possible? Can something become nothing? Many philosophers have pondered the question. And vice-versa: can something appear out of nothing? Lao Tzu clearly states so, but other thinkers in history have doubted it.

       In our time we have similar questions. Scientists seem to agree that the basic component of the universe, its energy, can change but not disappear – or appear out of nowhere.

       On the other hand, the Big Bang theory implies that somehow, something must have come into existence, for the process to begin. Otherwise, that was not the moment when the universe was born. And what can we say about the domain that the universe has not yet reached in its expansion? It's said not to exist, since the universe is the limit for existence. But then the universe is something appearing out of nothing.

       We still wrestle with the questions that Lao Tzu and many other ancient thinkers asked themselves.

© 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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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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