Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wen Tzu - Verse 95, Part III

from Verse Ninety-Five
The way of heaven is a pattern, the way of earth is a design; unity harmonizes them, time works for them, thereby developing myriad things. This is called the Way.
~ Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries ~
This passage really speaks to me. I like the use of the words pattern and design. That said, in all honesty, I would reverse the usage to say the way of heaven is the design and the way of earth is the pattern.

The way I see it is that the universal whatever it is -- Tao -- provides the framework of life and its implementation in this realm -- earth -- works via patterns that derive from that framework.

You may see it differently or more in line with Lao Tzu's conception. I simply may be splitting hairs.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.


  1. creationist!! hehe :-D

    I realy like the sound of the passage.

  2. To my mind part of the beauty is the possibility for different interpretations. :)

  3. While initially, I would agree with your assessment; after some thought I have decided to be contrary. This is a beautiful verse and I would like to defend its integrity. Where I can see earth as a framework and a pattern as you have stated because we naturally have a tendency to view the skies as beautiful and almost unknowable, I must point out that if looked upon with any sort of consistency the skies (heavens) are filled with pattern. Constellations rotate with the seasons, eclipses can be determined with rudimentary mathematical skills, and even comets have a pattern, even if they are sometimes 100's of years in the making. Where as the earth or ground has much less pattern. Weather anomalies, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes... these are all very hard to predict, hence the high death tolls when such natural disasters strike. We live within the design and gaze upon the pattern. And as the passage says, if we seek to unify our pattern and design, over time, we may be surprised at what may develop.

  4. Suecae,
    I agree! All great works of art, poetry or philosophy are open to many interpretations.

    The DJ,
    I can see it from the standpoint you write of as well as the standpoint that I wrote of.

  5. Unable to see the pattern,
    men impose their own design.
    This is counterproductive.

    Learning to recognize the pattern,
    men add their own contribution to it.
    This is purpose.

    Time allows accumulation of effect.
    Imposition leads to chaos.
    Contribution furthers the way.

  6. After a few minutes, the thought came:

    Some adjust their views to suit the way.
    While some try adjusting the way to suit their views.

    There is no "absolute" wisdom.
    Lao Tzu writes in the style he does, to reflect this.
    One sees, in his words, what one sees. One may see things differently, tomorrow.

  7. This is a case where it might be nice to know what the actual Chinese characters are.

    I have utmost respect for Thomas Cleary, and he must have selected the English translations for a reason, but still...

  8. Crow,
    I completely agree when you wrote, "One sees, in his words, what one sees. One may see things differently, tomorrow."

    Excellent point!!


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