Scholars, sinologists, and translators who can read classical Chinese often try to figure out the meanings of what Laozi had wanted to say in the Tao Te Ching. It is good of the able – if they are so capable - to also translate this ancient Chinese classic into other languages for others to enjoy and read.
Since the Tao Te Ching is acknowledged as profound, what with generations of eminent Chinese philosophers and scholars trying their utmost to decipher it and yet few translations – if any – would catch the entire gist of what the great ancient sage Laozi had actually taught.
Therefore now and then one has to put in some extra effort to make a simple and succinct translation of a particular chapter which could have much relevance to the Circulation of the Light practice. Whether or not readers can discern the subtlety in such a translation would depend on their own levels of cultivation. Since probably only the top scholars of Tao – those who have had already immersed themselves in the practice - could possess the clarity to get to the true meanings of what Laozi had had said.
Take for example Chapter 52 of the Tao Te Ching of which a simple translation is provided:
All under heaven have a beginning that has a mother.
Knowing this mother, the child is known.
Return to guard this mother, immerse self no danger.
Close the mouth; block the openings, no self-exhaustion at the end.
Open the mouth, numerous affairs, end result: no salvation.
See small for clarity, guard weak for strength.
Use this light. Return leads to enlightenment.
This would avoid self calamity. And the correct practice for the eternal.
[Translated by Allan Lian]
The specific term of ‘All under heaven’ (Tian Xia) invariably used by both Laozi and Confucius in their respective teachings is maintained. Since ‘All under heaven’ can mean a state, China, the world, Earth, and/or the universe(s). This particular term also has much relevance to Yijing scholars and diviners especially where local and/or global omens have been received.
In writing this particular chapter, Laozi had had provided several hints and guidance to scholars on how to proceed further with the Circulation of the Light practice. That is why his Tao is very easy to know and very easy to learn for scholars worth their salt or for the Worthies.
And penetrating (tong) this chapter 52 and/or the ancient classics could be something like this:
The Holy Sages who wrote the Book of Changes wanting to be very thorough investigated things back to their beginning or origin. The Great Learning – in line with what these ancients taught - teach students the various steps on how to investigate things back to their beginning.
Adhering to this type of investigation and according to Laozi, to know the mother is to know the child and therefore the beginning of all under heaven - Verses 1 and 2.
The remaining six verses of Chapter 52 provide hints and guidance on what to avoid and what to do to know this mother. And the correct practice for the eternal is by taking the stated right actions.
Closing the mouth and blocking the openings would provide a good start to learn how to breathe like an infant again. In the return to guard this mother, there is no danger in immersing self as an infant. (Refer to the July 2013 article on the Circulation of the Light and Chapter 55 for additional information.)
Open the mouth and by revealing too much would bring about numerous unnecessary worldly entanglements which result in no salvation - also refer to the third line of Hexagram 1 Qian and the commentary on it to understand the implications.
Seeing the small aid clarity in case they are missed, guard the weak to progressively strengthen it.
If the youthful American student of a Quanzhen temple in China still reads my blog while in Tokyo, this chapter substantiates my hint of what to do with the Light as a parting gift to him in TaoBums, a few years ago.
Because once a scholar of Tao possesses the ability to see the Light, he or she has to learn how to use it. As indicated before in a previous article, the experiential ability to see the light while elementary is fundamental to the entire Circulation of the Light practice.
To use this light is another step towards the Return which leads to enlightenment - Verse 7 - and to avoid self calamity. While the Buddha had had taught his disciples to investigate the light – as recorded in the Shurangama Sutra, Laozi had several decades earlier already revealed one step further on what to do with it; that is to use this light.
By also teaching how to investigate things back to their beginning, the three great ancient sages – Laozi, Confucius and the Buddha - are in accord with the established order of the Holy Sages.
If scholars of Tao - whether they are taught by real or fake masters, or are self-taught - still have not achieved the abilities to see and to use this light after several years or decades of practice, it could be time to stop. Failing which they could fall into delusions and/or use bypaths in futility to achieve the Way.
The hints on what to do with this light provided by both Laozi and the Buddha are true. However, only the top scholars of Tao who have had witnessed the eternal signposts of the Way will be able to substantiate the truth.
Therefore use this light!
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