Mindful Monday: Tao Te King 24

For today’s #MindfulMonday topic I chose to write about Chapter 24 of Tao Te King. I don’t apply any system when choosing the verse. Let’s say I picked this chapter because it’s the 24th day of the month.

Here is the text:

He who stands on tiptoe
doesn’t stand firm.
He who rushes ahead
doesn’t go far.
He who tries to shine
dims his own light.
He who defines himself
can’t know who he really is.
He who has power over others
can’t empower himself.
He who clings to his work
will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,
just do your job, then let go.

This must be one of my favourite chapters, focusing on a quality I value highly – humbleness, which is not soliciting recognition. The verse states it all – you need to focus on doing what you are supposed to do without burdening your work with any secret hopes for recognition or praise. In my view, this is one of the hardest things for a person to do. We all want to be recognised for our contribution, even if we speak differently. Frequently, we expect to receive the praise we deserve, especially when and because we keep silent about it, in an attempt to be humble.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 26 – Mindful Monday

Heavy is the root of light.
Stillness is the ruler of haste.

Although he travels all day,
The sage never loses sight of his luggage carts.
Only when he rests securely inside the walls,
He relaxes his attention.

Why would a ruler with ten thousand chariots
Look lightly on himself or his domain?

In lightness, the root is lost.
In haste, the ruler is lost.

This is one translation. The challenge with ancient texts written in remote languages is the plenitude of room for interpretation. In the second stanza, my translation says something in the meaning of: “Although he is the ruler of luxurious palaces and parks, / he remains humble and calm, above vanity.” Nothing about “relaxing his attention”. To be honest, the version I own on my bookshelves is closer and sounds more natural to me.

Another difference comes in the third stanza, the one with the 10000 chariots. My version reads “Would the ruler of ten thousand chariots / treat his kingdom lightly because of himself”. Online, I found yet another wording: “How, then, should a ruler of ten thousand chariots / Make light of his own person in the eyes of the empire?” See what I mean? Three different nuances. Moreover, they are so different, that I cannot see which one I prefer.

“Stillness is the ruler of haste.” I love this. Haste will always bow before stillness. Because stillness is persistent, it can go on for a long time without getting tired. It is equally intensive at its ending as it is at its beginning. Eventually, it should win. Well, there are situations in life when haste is preferable. Imagine you need to run away from danger or ruin. I can’t deny the usefulness of thinking and acting quickly. At the end of this Chapter, hastiness is mentioned once again to say that it is the ruin of the ruler. So, sages and rulers shouldn’t be hasty.

“Heavy is the root of light.” I have difficulties understanding that. I thought about it, looking at the sentence from several points of view, and I can’t say I reached any clarity. Maybe just like any plant needs roots and can’t survive without them, relying on the nurture and stability coming from them, in the same way, anything light cannot survive without taking energy, food and stability – its life, in short – from the heavy. The ending of the Chapter revisits the idea, stressing that if you have lightness only, the root is lost. That last idea made me think of a balloon. With nothing to hold it down, it flies away.

Let me know what you think, I’d love to read all your views and ideas in the comments.

Mindful Monday: A Verse of Interest

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 7

Heaven is eternal and Earth is lasting.
How can they be eternal and lasting?
Because they do not live for themselves.
That is how they can be eternal.
The sage puts himself last and becomes the first,
Neglects himself and is preserved.
Is it not because he is unselfish that he fulfills himself?

I used the translation provided on Taoist.com website. My 2 copies at home read the same.

I believe this chapter is quite self-explanatory, but I want to highlight my favourite part. “Because they don’t live for themselves, that is how they are eternal.” Because that which lives for itself, dies when it’s own time is up. It is limited in existence – nothing outside it needs it or makes use of its life for any purpose. Its period of breathing in and out is over, so it dies. But if you help your environment and serve it, the environment protects you and saves precious life moments for you.

Can it be similar to the principle that giving happiness away doesn’t reduce it, but just increases the number of happy people? Maybe it can, who knows. It goes well in the tradition that sharing values doesn’t deplete them.

As an ending, I’d use another favourite of mine, the finishing line, from another translation: “It is because he is not focused on self-interests that he can fulfill his nature.” So, go on and fulfill your nature in the new week. Be well!

Nature vs Culture (Monday Mindfulness Revisited)

In the light of the recent events in Japan, I need to go mindful again and reflect on the troublesome nature of … well, Nature.

Today, I composed two short poems, here and here, both focusing on the disaster that hit Japan. I rarely do that, because my inspiration is too random (Even the poems about Chernobil, (here in English and here in Bulgarian) were written so much later and without any obvious occasion). Yet, this time, prompts by a couple of poetic websites/blogs served well and although I had originally intended to direct my poetic pieces elsewhere (it was before Friday, while I was speculating my poetic options for the coming weekend), they just happened to fit perfectly.

Again, I see, that no matter how great we may become, or how trifle, Nature will make us equal, by making things even in this case. So many grand and petty troubles were caused and solved by Friday’s quake, that they all faded into the common tragedy. In a grim and gripping single event thousands of fates obtained alternative twists. Possibilities are still to be considered. Now, it’s only tragedy, loss of souls, and silent tears!

In silent awe I wish the best possible to all! When you come to think of it, Mondays always mind the past two days, don’t they!


Monday mindfulness


Monday is believed to be an especially tough day, especially in the morning. As usual, we stayed late last night although nothing interested was on, just to have some final sweet moments of the weekend. As usual, the morning wake-up alarm was unwelcome.

Yet, a recent survey showed that Tuesday, and not Monday anymore, was the toughest day of the week. So, in compliance with the new directive, my Mondays have brightened immensely since then. It turns out that on Monday one is still relaxed and refreshed after the weekend (strongly depending on the weekend) and has enough resilience to pull through. On Tuesday, however, one fully realises that the week is in its proper reign and there is no way back, nor could one speed forward to the weekend. Then, despair settles in.

So, while it is still Monday, let’s make good use of it. Be mindful and don’t forget to mention all who inspire you!