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The Tao Teh King: A Short Study in Comparative Religion, by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, [1905], at

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When every one in the world became conscious of the beauty of the beautiful it turned to evil; they became conscious of the goodness of the good and ceased to be good. 1 Thus not-being and being arise the one from the other. So also do the difficult and the easy; the long and the short; the high and the low; sounds and voices; the preceding and the following.

Therefore 2 the Holy man abides by non-attachment in his affairs, and practices a doctrine which cannot be imparted by speech. He attends to everything in its turn and declines nothing; produces without claiming; acts without dwelling thereon; completes his purposes without resting in them. Inasmuch as he does this he loses nothing. 3

A lotus pond will serve as an illustration of the difference between the holy sages and the younger members of the race. Covered with broad green leaves and brilliant blooms, it irresistibly attracts child-souls. They wade into the water, sink in the slime, and desperately struggle for the fragile petals; but the sages, their elder brethren, remain quietly on the bank,

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always alert to aid any who require assistance, content to admire, content to enjoy, without desiring to possess; yet actually owning the flowers more truly than the struggling crowd in the slimy pond. We are feeblest when we are grasping.

"The Master said, 'Those who are without virtue, cannot abide long either in a condition of poverty and hardship, or in a condition of enjoyment.'"—Confucian Analects.

"To dwell in the wide house of the world, to stand in the correct seat of the world, and to walk in the great path of the world; when he obtains his desire for office, to practice his principles for the good of the people; and when that desire is disappointed, to practice them alone; to be above the power of riches and honors to make dissipated, of poverty and mean condition to make swerve from principle, and of power and force to make bend—these characteristics constitute the great man."—Mencius.


3:1 Cf. chap. 18 in loc.

3:2 Because the antimonies in the text are in the outer world of consciousness only, having no existence in the inner world of spirit, the Sage makes no distinction. All things are alike to him (cp. chap. 63). Says The Bhagavad Gita—''Thy business is with action only, never with its fruits; so let not the fruit of thy action be thy motive, nor be thou to inaction attached."

3:3 "A pure, single, and stable spirit is not distracted though it be employed in many works; for that it doeth all to the honor of God, and being at rest within, seeketh not itself in anything it doth."—Of the Imitation of Christ bk. 1, ch. 3.

"Balanced in pleasure and pain, self-reliant, to whom a lump of earth, a rock and gold are alike; the same to loved and unloved, firm, the same in censure and in praise, the same in honor and ignominy, the same to friend and fee, abandoning all undertakings—he is said to have crossed over the Gunas." Bhagavad Gita—xiv. 24, 25.

Next: Chapter III