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

p. 34


Abandon knowledge, discard wisdom—the people will gain a hundred fold.

Abandon the humanities, discard righteousness—the people will return to filial love.

Abandon cleverness, discard gain—robbers and thieves will be no more. 1

These three, 2 being considered not sufficiently aesthetic, therefore many other devices 3 were added. Better observe simplicity, 4 encourage primitiveness, lessen the number of private projects, and moderate desire. 5

Whether on the physical or spiritual planes, disintegration

p. 35

is essential to progression. However good the ritual, it should be cast aside once the life has outgrown the form. In passing from infancy to old age, mankind proceeds from multiplicity to simplicity, from activity to quiescence, and this natural physical law is also the path for the soul. The desires fade, or are perhaps absorbed, as the orb of Truth rises.

"The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God," says Paul.

"Except ye fast to the world, ye shall in no wise find the kingdom of God," is one of the forgotten sayings of the Christ.


34:1 Virtues which are exotics and not habitats are dangerous freaks, diverting the mind from inner realities. The teaching is eloquently set forth by J. B. of "The Christian World." "What a remove," … he writes, "from the thing we call 'cleverness,' the element which made Jesus supreme in the hearts of his followers! Was it by 'cleverness' that, in Ullmann's striking words, 'His mere presence passed a silent but irresistible sentence upon those by whom he was surrounded,' Was it a mere trick of the intellect that his look could break a strong man's hearts In this highest example we have demonstration of the fact that the crowning endowment of humanity is beyond and behind intellect, using that only as a tool. … We are in an age of culture and of general knowledge grinding. More than ever necessary is that for every teacher, but it is only a beginning. Our qualification for any grade of spiritual office is in the incessant cultivation of our central innermost. It is when we find our Higher Self, our greater Ego, the infinite Ground of our being, to be more and more filling us and making our life, that we can speak of progress."

34:2 viz.: The three duplicates, knowledge, wisdom; benevolence, righteousness; cleverness, gain. Standing alone they are painted fruits which arouse expectations but fail to satisfy hunger. Cf. Matt. xxi. 17-19.

34:3 Once let the outer usurp the inner, and, like uncontrolled competition in business, it will end in bankruptcy.

34:4 Tsaio-ju-ho observes that primitive simplicity embraces the very essence of knowledge, wisdom, benevolence and righteousness.

34:5 The way of the Christ, as of all great religious leaders, is to discourage monopoly and practice spiritual socialism.

See notes to chap. 38.

Next: Chapter XX