Monday, May 13, 2019
Tao Te Ching – Chapter 59
“Everything in moderation,” goes the adage. The Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism is described as the “middle way.” A meditation instruction teaches “not too tight, not too loose.”
The concept of moderation is the foundation of this chapter.
Governing people in alignment with heaven
Is accomplished only through moderation
As with other chapters on governing, I find this most helpful when I think of self governance.
The character for moderation 啬 has components that mean come, from, earth, return. Returning, we are told elsewhere in the Tao Te Ching, is the motion of Tao. There is a cycle of manifestation into form, and a return to formlessness. Like an inhale and exhale.
The center of this cycle, the liminal space between form and formless, the pause between the inhale and the exhale, represents this concept of moderation. Moderation is the point of balance between one extreme and the other.
The Tao Te Ching is fond of using a cascading structure in some chapters. Perhaps this aided in remembering what was at one time passed down through oral tradition.
Moderation means early attunement (or attunement from the beginning)
Early attunement means the accumulation of Te (Virtue)
The accumulation of Virtue leads to mastery
Mastery leads to limitless awareness
Limitless awareness leads to aligned governance
Aligned governance leads to the eternal
The deep roots of the eternal offer infinite perception of Tao
Admittedly, that might be a bit hard to follow. However, if we consider the overall arc of this chapter, especially in terms of self governance, we can see the connection between the middle way of moderation and our alignment with the sacred energy moving between heaven and earth.
When we swing too far in one direction or another, we lose this alignment. We must then use our energy to maintain this imbalance, or we compensate by swinging to the other extreme. But when we follow this middle way, our steps are effortless, and we are always attuned to the guidance of nature (Tao).
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." ~Isaiah 30:21