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Tao Te Ching – 2

If some are thought of as beautiful

Some appear ugly

If some are considered good

Some seem bad

Existence and vacuum are born

out of one another

Tall and short are formed

due to each other

Highs and lows depend

On each other

Before and after follow

one another

So, the wise man remains as he is

But does everything

While staying silent

Teaches everything

Things float like flood

He lets them come

When they disappear

He lets them go

He has everything

But he does not think he owns

He does karma

But does not seek anything

When the work is over

He forgets it

So it remains forever

This is the second poem from Tao Te Ching. In this, Lao Tzu shows us the dual nature and impermanence of the world. If something is defined, an exact opposite idea of it appears right by its side. Therefore, he asks us to stay out of dual nature and remain in one’s own original state.

A Jnani continues to do karma. But he does not show interest in it. He remains a witness to the natural Karmic happenings. As he does not undergo passion, he can do karma well. As he does not seek result, he does not think too much about the work done.

This poem appears like a complete copy of the ideas mentioned in Bhagavad Gita, related to Karma yoga and the balanced state of mind of a Karma Yogi. Despite the similarities, the subject matter is of very high Advaita philosophy.

People who observe life very closely will understand the truth behind this teaching. This is not idealism, it is practical philosophy, Anushtana Vedanta. However, it is difficult to understand and more difficult to practice. What has been described in this poem is not the state of a seeker on the path, but of a realized master. The aforementioned way of doing karma, is not something that can be tried willingly; it happens without any effort. This kind of Akarma (Inaction) can be seen very clearly throughout Lao Tzu’s philosophy.

All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Ranganath D, which was originally posted in on April 21, 2009. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.

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