Friday Abide: Putkonin Chapter 4

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Read about the “Friday Abide” series of posts HERE

This week: Chapter 4 of the Tao Te Ching chapter 4, Amy Putkonin’s version

Tao is like an empty cup
that cannot be filled,
Although we drink of it continuously.
It is the deep source
of the Ten Thousand Things.

Tao smooths our sharp edges,
Untangles the knots in our lives,
And blends our brilliance with our dust.

Its depth is eternal.

This speaks to me of intellectual curiosity and the virtue of life-long learning and growing. Other parts of Taoism equate rigidity and stagnation with death, while life is changing, adaptable, flexible. This chapter begins to build that idea.

Even Western culture (before “red state” America, anyway) has always respected the well educated. The well educated, true or not, are stereotypically thought of as gentle, and socially refined. The same is often true of the elders, the more experienced in a society, because they have the education of real-life experience.

The advice here is to learn, to grow – always, for such is life and such is the way to feel alive.

The “ten thousand things” is an “anything is possible” idea. “Ten Thousand” was to an ancient,  poorly educated, agrarian society what “bajillion” or “hoozillion” might mean to us today. To someone who is always actively learning and adapting, any spiritual achievement is attainable. No worries about getting bored here. Life’s learning opportunities and spiritual wonder is inexhaustible.

 

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