Tao Te Ching Chapter 26


The Solid is the root of the light;
The Quiescent is the master of the Hasty.

Therefore the Sage travels all day
Yet never leaves his provision-cart.

In the midst of honor and glory,
He lives leisurely, undisturbed.

How can the ruler of a great country
Make light of his body in the empire (by rushing about)?
In light frivolity, the Center is lost;
In hasty action, self-mastery is lost.

Lin Yu Tang


The heavy is the root of the light.
The still is the master of unrest.

Therefore the sage, traveling all day,
Does not lose sight of his baggage.

Though there are beautiful things to be seen,
He remains unattached and calm.

Why should the lord of ten thousand chariots act lightly in public?
To be light is to lose one’s root.
To be restless is to lose one’s control.

Jane English and Gia-fu Feng

How can we master the kingdom of the ten thousand chariots? How do we master the phenomenological realities of our existential manifestations, the “ten thousand things,” the baggage in our provision cart the sage of the Tao Te Ching speaks of here?  How do we hold to a center whose center appears not to hold and instead spires ever wider in its gyrations between the poles of the dualistic mind?

We think we know. So onward and upward and downward and aroundward we go on this dizzying loop-the-loop constituted of the complex synapses of the linguistic mind.

Is our singular perceptive regard merely light frivolity and hasty restlessness and wandering far and wide and away from what is with us, and within us? Traveling with our baggage and our provision cart in the world, with our perceptions of honor and glory and beautiful things and mundane amusements, are we manic and disturbed and fixated and frantic rather than leisurely and undisturbed and unattached and calm? Yes, we are.

Until we remember that the still is, indeed, the master of unrest. That’s the key to ruling, rather than being ruled by, the ten thousand things. Be still and at peace, and know the I Am. Know “that which is thou.” Identify yourself, and rest in it, and let it be.

When the mind is at peace,
the world too is at peace.
Nothing real, nothing absent.
Not holding on to reality,
not getting stuck in the void,
you are neither holy or wise, just
an ordinary fellow who has completed his work.

P’ang Yün

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