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

p. 72


The Tao produced One. The One produced two; the two produced three; 1 the three produced all things.

Everything is permeated by the yin and the yang and vivified by the immaterial breath. 2

The above quotation would be perfectly intelligible to any Chinese scholar without explanations. Indeed it would be difficult to convince him that it had not been taken from his own writings.}

p. 73

That which men hate is to be kithless, friendless and considered unworthy, but princes and dukes thus style themselves. 3 From this it would appear that advantages are disadvantageous, and disadvantages are advantageous. I teach that which others have taught.

The violent and the fierce do not live out their years.

I shall be chief among the teachers. 4

The trinitarian conception is universal. It is seen in the three-fold character of cell growth—cell-enlargement, cell-specialization, cell-multiplication; in the triune process year by year of birth in spring, maturity in summer, decay in autumn; it is seen in the body, soul and spirit of which man is composed; and in the father, mother, offspring of the completed family life. As Zoroaster has said: "The number 3 reigns throughout the universe, and the Monad is its principle." It is natural therefore that Lao-tzu should give it a prominent position in his philosophy; equally natural that he should proceed without a break from the trinitarian process

p. 74

of creation to humility. For not only is the Trinity everywhere, but everywhere it is a sacrificing Trinity. The mineral kingdom gives its life for the vegetable, the vegetable for the animal, while the mineral and the vegetable are helped toward the realization of their being by the expenditure of man's strength. So also in the Bible the Father yields the Son, the Son does not please himself (Rom. xv, 3), and the Spirit bears witness not to Himself, but to the other two persons of the Trinity. Self-sacrifice is the root of life. Who seeks loses; who loses finds. By this we perceive the advantages of the disadvantageous, and the disadvantages of the advantageous.


72:1 Georg von der Gablentz observes that rendered literally this should read—

1. (Tao) + 1 + 2 + 3 = 7. See Dr. Edkins illuminative historical notes in The China Review, vol. xiii. p. 16. Universal Genesis starts from the One, breaks into Three, then Five, and finally culminates in Seven, to return into Four, Three, and One. Cf. Secret Doctrine, ii, 170, 658. See also iii, 397 et al.

72:2 2. In an essay on Tauism published in the first volume of the "China Review," Chalmers gives the following—"There is a Trinity observable in all the manifestations of Tau, corresponding to the three principal senses in man, hearing, seeing, and feeling, and to sound, colour and form, in the external world. The terms of this trinity are generally in Chinese, Yin, Yang and Hwo-hi. The Hwo-hi—the harmonious Breath or Spirit,—is held by Lau-tsze to be present in nature intermediate between the yin and yang; which you must know, denotes in Chinese the two members of 'an inevitable dualism which bisects nature.' (Emerson) Heaven and Earth, for instance, are a duality, the greatest duality of which we have any cognizance, but there is an intermediate Breath—we may call it a Spirit,—shadowed forth in the spiritual nature of man, which constitutes the third term. Thus while the Confucianists, following the Yih-king, rest in Dualism, and materialism; the Tauist, though denying an eternal, personal God, is a sort of Trinitarian, and the third member of his trinity is Spirit, personal or impersonal. No numerical character belongs to Tau, however, for Tau is chaotic; when the mind approaches that, all things seem to be blended in unity and it remains utterly inscrutable."

In the same essay we find the following quotation describing the Pythagorean theory of numbers—

Unity is a male monad, begetting after the manner of a parent all the rest of the numbers. Secondly, the duad is a female number, and the same also is by arithmeticians called even. Thirdly, the triad is a male number. This also has been classified by arithmeticians under the denomination uneven. And in addition to all these is the tetrad, a female number, and the same also is called even, because it is female. Therefore all the numbers that have been derived from the genus are four; but number is the indefinite genus, from which was constituted according to them, the perfect number, viz. the decade. For one, two, three, four become ten if its proper denomination be preserved essentially for each of the numbers. Pythagoras p. 73 affirmed this to be a sacred quaternion source of everlasting nature, having, as it were, roots in itself; and that from this number all the numbers receive that originating principle. For eleven, and twelve, and the rest partake of the origin of existence from ten. Of this decade, the perfect number, there are termed four divisions, namely monad, square and cube. And the connections and blendings of these are performed, according to nature, for the generation of growth completing the productive number. For when the square is multiplied into itself, a biquadratic is the result. But when the square is multiplied into the cube, the result is the product of a square and cube; and when the cube is multiplied into the cube, the product of two cubes is the result. So that all the numbers from which the production of existing (numbers) arises is seven, namely monad, number, square, cube, biquadratic, quadratic cube, cubocube." Hippolylus, (Ante-Nicene Christian Library, Vol. vi. p. 32.)

73:3 Indicating that any virtue they possess lies in the unsearchable realms of the infinite rather than on the objective plane of existence. See ch. 39.

73:4 The advantages of weakness had been taught before Lao-tzu, but not the danger of self-assertiveness. It is on his insistence on this that Lao-tzu bases his claim to be a leader of the leaders. See chaps. 9, 29, 30, 73, 76.

Next: Chapter XLIII