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

p. 28


Abstraction complete, quiescence maintained unalloyed, 1 the various forms arise with one accord, and I observe that each returns again. 2 All things thrive and increase, then each returns again to the root. 3 This return to the root is called 'stillness,' 4 or it may be described as a return to report that they have fulfilled their destiny. This report is called 'the unchanging rule.' 5

Knowledge of this unchanging rule is called 'illumination.' Those who are ignorant of it give way to abandon and to recklessness.

Knowledge of this unchanging rule leads to toleration.

Toleration leads to comprehension. 6

p. 29

Comprehension leads to sovereignty. 7

Sovereignty leads to heaven-likeness.

Heaven-likeness leads to the Tao.

The Tao leads to continuity.

Though the body be no more, there is then no danger. 8

Plato says: "When a man is always occupied with the cravings of desire and ambition, and is eagerly striving to satisfy them, all his thoughts must be mortal, and, as far as it is possible altogether to become such, he must be mortal every whit, because he has cherished his mortal part. But he who has been earnest in the love of knowledge and of true wisdom, and has exercised his intellect more than any other part of him, must have thoughts immortal and divine, if he attain truth, and in so far as human nature is capable of sharing in immortality, he must be altogether immortal; and since he is ever cherishing the divine power, and has the divinity within him in perfect order, he will be perfectly happy." * "Knowledge of the Unchanging Rule," says Lao-tzu, is the first step, viz., detachment from the external, even as Nature sacrifices its objective existence to retire whence it came and announce the purport of its forthcoming fulfilled. In the language of one of the Upanishads, "When all the bonds of the heart are broken, then the man becomes immortal. Though the body be no more, there is then no danger."


28:1 Su Cheh observes that neither abstraction nor quiescence are complete unless unconscious. So long as they are maintained with effort there can be neither absolute abstraction nor perfect stillness.

28:2 "I think that what struck Lao Tzu was the fact that vegetable life seemed to be controlled by the quiet and invisible root: from it everything comes forth as having received a commission: to it there is a return, as if reporting the fulfillment of the commission."—J. P. Maclagan.


"That each, who seems a separate whole,
 Should move his rounds, and fusing all
 The skirts of self again, should fall
 Remerging in the general soul."—Tennyson.

28:4 The word here translated, "stillness," is the same as that rendered "quiescence" in the first sentence, suggesting a similitude between the ideal rest of the soul and the rest or pralaya of the vegetable kingdom.

28:5 "As thousands of sparks rise from the fire, and then again merge into the fire; as clouds of dust rise in the air, and then rest again in the dust; as thousands of bubbles rise in tie rivers, and melt into water again in the same way from non-being come forth beings, and merge in Him again."—Central Hindu College Magazine, May, 1902.

28:6 The submergence of the personal I into the impersonal All.

29:7 Complete sway over desire.

29:8 Because no longer bound to earth, "which time is wont to prey upon."

See II. Cor. v. 1. Also Secret Doctrine (3d ed.) iii. 454.

29:* Timaeus. Jowett's translation, vol. iii., p. 513.

Next: Chapter XVII