天下莫柔弱于水，而攻坚强者莫之能胜，其无以易之。弱之胜强，柔之胜刚，天下莫不知，莫能行。是以圣人云：受国之垢，是谓社稷主；受国不祥，是谓天下王。正言若反。 — 道德经，第七十八章。
In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong, nothing can surpass it. This is because there is nothing that can take its place. That the weak overcomes the strong and the submissive overcomes the hard. Everyone in the world knows yet no one can put this knowledge into practice. Therefore the sage says, One who takes on himself the humiliation of the state is called a ruler worthy of offering sacrifices to the gods of earth and millet. One who takes on himself the calamity of the state is called a king worthy of dominion over the entire empire. Straightforward words seem paradoxical. — Tao De Jing, Chapter 78, Lau Translation.
By observing the nature of the universe, Lao Tzi had a revelation. “One who takes on himself the humiliation of the state is called a ruler worthy of offering sacrifices to the gods of earth and millet. One who takes on himself the calamity of the state is called a king worthy of dominion over the entire empire”. He understood that “while all things are stirring together”, he was able to “contemplate the Return” of all things. “Each of them will return to its root,” Lao Tzi wrote. “To return to the root is to find peace…” and ultimately, “To be one with the Tao” and “abide forever” (Tao De Jing, Chapter 16, Wu Translation).
Through Lao Tzi’s observation, he also had a realisation that “the world is a sacred vessel”. This kingdom isn’t something that is solely physical. Rather, it has a spiritual element to it. The world or the kingdom is not something that can be tampered with nor can it be grabbed after (Tao De Jing, Chapter 29). Lao Tzi realises that the Law of the Tao only allow those who is “willing to give his body for the sake of the world” to be “entrusted with the world”. And adding to that, “only he who can do it with love is worthy of being steward of the world” (Tao De Jing, Chapter 13, Wu Translation).
Given the analysis of Lao Tzi, he deduced that only He who became “The Helpless One”, “The Little One”, and “The Worthless One” is truly worthy of gaining the Kingdom (Tao De Jing, Chapter 39 & 42). It was not very clear if the Ruler of the Kingdom is the Son of Heaven Himself as stated Chapter 62. However, given the closeness of reference to Tao Himself in Chapter 42, it might be inferred that this Ruler is one of the Triune essence of Tao (Chapter 42) or one of the “Three Ministers” (Chapter 62) installed. But for the sake of this post, let’s call Him “The Chosen One”.
道生一，一生二，二生三，三生万物。万物负阴而抱阳，冲气以为和。人之所恶，唯孤、寡、不谷，而王公以为称。故物或损之而益，或益之而损。人之所教，我亦教之。强梁者不得其死，吾将以为教父。 — 道德经，第四十二章。
Tao gave birth to One. One gave birth to Two. Two gave birth to Three. Three gave birth to all the myriad things. All the myriad things carry the Yin on their backs and hold the Yang in their embrace. Deriving their vital harmony from the proper blending of the two vital Breaths. What is more loathed by men than to be “helpless”, “little”, and “worthless”? And yet these are the very names the princes and barons call themselves. Truly, one may gain by losing, and one may lose by gaining. What another has taught let me repeat: “A man of violence will come to a violent end”. Whoever said this can be my teacher. — Tao De Jing, Chapter 42, Wu Translation.
By encompassing all things within him, it appears that Tao made The Chosen One to be “loathed by men”. By humbling himself, The Chosen One died the most gruesome death possible. He was, in every way, “helpless” (Matthew 27:39-44), “little” (Matthew 27:27-31), and “worthless” (Matthew 27:46). By losing himself, He gained the world (Philippians 2:5-11).
This kingdom that He gained, he gave to all that believes in Him. He taught us that “humility is the root from which greatness springs, and the high must be built upon the foundations of the low” (Tao De Jing, Chapter 42, Wu Translation; Matthew 5:5). Also, he added that “one must renounce all” in order to “win the world” (Tao De Jing, Chapter 48, Matthew 10:39, 16:25).
However, Lao Tzi realises that “when one is out of Life, one is in Death” (Tao De Jing, Chapter 50; Romans 6:23). He also know that the source of life is in the Tao. He wrote, “Tao gives them life, Virtue nurses them, Matter shapes them, Environment perfects them.” Because of this, “all things without exception worships Tao and pay homage to Virtue” (Tao De Jing, Chapter 51). If we draw close to Tao, there will be no room for Death to be within us. The buffalo would find no butt for his horns on us, tigers will not be able to lay claws on us, and weapons of war will have no effect on us (Tao De Jing, Chapter 50).
Therefore, Lao Tzi calls us to plant ourselves in the Tao. He wrote, “the way to be deep-rooted and firm-planted in the Tao” is to “overcome everything” and to “reach an invisible height.” He added that, “only he who has reached an invisible height can have a kingdom” (Tao De Jing, Chapter 59, Psalms 1:3). However, because of humanity’s lowness, no one can be like the Chosen One to attain the kingdom. This Kingdom, He has then freely given to us by His love and mercy.
By rooting ourselves in the Tao, we will be “steeped in Virtue”. And truly, unless we become “akin to the new-born babe” (Tao De Jing, Chapter 55; Matthew 18:2-4), we will not “enter the kingdom” (Matthew 18:2). However, if we are rooted in the Tao and in Virtue, we will be One with the Tao and in Virtue (Tao De Jing, Chapter 23). And if we are One in the Tao, isn’t all things Tao, ours also?Image by andrew kim from Pixabay
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