On Tuesdays, Amy Putkonen, the autor of www.taotechingdaily.com, posts a chapter from her version of the Tao Te Ching and invites other bloggers to post thier commentary to accompany hers. I always write mine before I read hers, to reassure myself that I’m not unconsciously raiding any of her wonderful idea. If you have a smidge of interest in Taoism, please read her commentary and visit her wonderful blog too.
Tao is nameless.
Simple and small,
though it cannot be commanded.
If leaders are able to lead with Tao,
the Ten Thousand Things will naturally follow.
Heaven and Earth will unite and send down sweet rain.
The people, without command,
will naturally take the road of peace.
Since rules have existed,
there have been names for things.
Naming things exhausts them.
If you know when to stop,
there is no danger.
In this way,
the world relates to Tao
as the rivers and streams to the ocean.
As I see it, this chapter talks about social convention, a bit like the Pope or Heirophant card of the Tarot. We are all a seamless whole…we are one with the Cosmos in the way a cup of water is united with the ocean. Naming things…even those things utterly inherant to 3 dimensional time-space LIKE time, for example are just carved-away parts. We use words to talk about cup, chair, time, space, compassion, experience…but these words are not the things themselves. But this carving and naming is not a bad thing. It serves a good…it lets us communicate. If we awash in wordless experience, things might get a little lonely. Without conventions like calendars and clocks, society would certainly be a lot less orgainized. Words, names, language reflects the greater one-ness in that it lets people communicate…connect.
That is where the “knowing when to stop” comes in. When we get more caught up in words, labeling, and social expectations…therein lies the danger. Using words for communication is an act of unity. Getting caught up in words is an act of division. The world needs words for humans to be a civilized whole. The one is made part of the whole. The river is made part of the ocean, and the world is made one with the Tao.