Rarity of Quiet

This piece makes me want to sit and wonder at how often if ever do we have truly quiet moments in our day to day lives. Even during my quiet time or studying I tend to listen to music. Maybe this is why those few moments of absolute stillness you snag just before bed or after your alarm goes off (but before you get up) feel so precious .

Corned Beef Hashtag


It starts at 6 a.m. with the alarms that wake us up.

Then the television goes on for the news, because so much has probably changed in the four or five hours that, maybe, I’ve been asleep. The coffee maker gurgles and burps in the background. The toaster pops and the skillet sizzles. The child groans and complains in an effort to resist getting out of bed, once she is up, fed, and  dressed,  I exchange a brief goodbye with my wife I open the door with a creak. I walk to the car, my daughter in front of me, shuffling her feet across the pavement.

The car rumbles to a start, the heater roars as it blows the still cold air through the vents. My daughter asks me to listen to the radio so I tap my phone to life and turn on the app to bring up her…

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Time has passed quickly for me in the past year. Since my last post I have graduated with a double Bachelors (English & Religious Studies) along with my fair share of medals/accolades. I also had a major change in my life, I was accepted to Yale Divinity School for a Masters in Religion and Literature. To say my new life at this school has been a roller coaster of adaptation, and extensive writing/reading assignments. I have been challenged and pushed beyond my limit as a student. I feel as though I have grown in leaps and bounds since I moved to Yale and it is difficult to believe that my time here is nearly over (my MA is a two-year program).

  Well, I should get back to my homework but I wanted to take a moment and finally write a post again. I have had the itch to begin posting regularly for the past week but kept putting it off. It took snapping this photo of the view I have from my desk in the Stacks of Sterling Memorial Library to feel  I had something worthwhile to share.

Hopefully my posts will become more regularly timed and I will have more interesting things to share in the future.

We are being told to take a step back from our socially trained longing for action and consumption. We must work toward attending to the “negative” space. The valley.

–> based off our understanding of the various passages that mention “the un-carved wood”

parts 15, 19, 28, 32, 37, 57

enough is enough.


the act of Demanding Virtue is a falling away from the Tao Lao Tzu is referring to.


1. Good (shan) running leaves no tracks, Good speech has no flaws, Good counting uses no counters, A good lock uses no bolts yet cannot be opened, A good knot uses no rope yet cannot be untied.   2. Hence the sage is always good at saving people, Therefore no one is rejected. He is always good at saving things, Therefore nothing is rejected. This is called following the light (ming).   3. Therefore the good person, Is the not-good (pu-shan) person’s teacher. The not-good (pu-shan) person, Is the good person’s capital. One who does not honor (kuei) the teacher, Or love (ai) the capital, Is greatly confounded though knowledgeable (chih). This is called the important mystery (miao).

(2012-09-08). Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary (Kindle Locations 3426-3445). Paragon House. Kindle Edition.

running without leaving tracks- it is the idea of moving through things without disturbing the environment.

To live too much with the yang is a mistake. There must be a balance.

Try to not be overbearing. Don’t talk about things you don’t know or just to hear yourself. choose words intentionally.

When you build up a system of knowledge you do need to organize it for yourself. But, you must remember that this system you understand is not the end-all-be-all. It is not the whole and only explanation.

Chapter 57- 

There are many different translations of this & the author of the translation we are using discusses how the first three lines are not supposed to be a piece of advice as other translations attempt to do. 


Attempts to order and control people leads to the deformation of their nature. 

–>  Following with the discussion of the different images of how to “carve” wood. 

17, 18, 19  – we want to become like the uncarved wood. 

–>  even the one that is loved and praised can be a movement away from the tao

–> Confucian virtues only occur when there is a decline. 

When there is good, there is also evil. All a balance. 

“reduce the sens of self and lessen your desires” 




Chapter 15: 

1. Those in the past who were good at practicing Tao, Were subtle, mysterious, dark, penetrating (wei miao yüan t’ung), Deep and unrecognizable. Because they were unrecognizable, I am forced to describe their appearance (yung).  

2. Careful, like crossing a river in winter, Hesitating, like fearing neighbors on four sides, Reverent, like being guests, Dissolving, like ice beginning to melt, Thick, like uncarved wood, Open, like a valley, Chaotic (hun), like murky (cho) water.  

3. What can stop the murkiness? Quieting (ching) down, gradually it clarifies (ch’ing). What can keep still for long? Moving, gradually it stirs into life.

 4. Those who keep this Tao, Do not want to be filled to the full (ying). Because they are not full, They can renew (hsin) themselves before being worn out (pi).

(2012-09-08). Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary (Kindle Locations 2454-2475). Paragon House. Kindle Edition.

We move into a dark space, and instead of saying that nothing makes sense… we stick with it and keep moving forward

–> relatable to the allegory of the cave. the shadows are familiar but the light is blinding and yet we ultimately want to know the truth. 


The sense of fullness and being finished:   If you are too filled then you can learn or appreciate nothing. You must become comfortable with murkiness and accept that you cannot control or know everything. 


With making people virtuous, which image works better? Guiding the nature or completely create something new? 


Is there something unnatural about being so committed to something as to give up the drive for self-preservation? 


Are humans like tigers where we must be trained to be tame.  –> argument for why we need to carve people. But Lao Tzu indicates that we should help guide development, not carve. 


((I had to leave the meeting before we finished discussion))


There might be a kind of power in vulnerability. 

Chapter 68

1. A good captain does not exhibit his martial prowess. A good warrior does not get himself angry. A good conqueror of enemies does not instigate a combat. A good employer of people puts himself below them.   2. This is called the power (te) of non-contention. This is called using the strength of others. This is called perfection (chi) in matching the heaven of old.

(2012-09-08). Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary (Kindle Locations 5965-5972). Paragon House. Kindle Edition.

This portion could help us to understand how flexibility or inaction can prove to be a sign of strength. 

Annnnnd Back to chapter 10 

3. In cleansing your mirror (lan) of the dark (hsüan), Can you make it spotless?

(2012-09-08). Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary (Kindle Locations 2084-2085). Paragon House. Kindle Edition. 

you as a person reflect the world/yourself so in cleansing your mirror you cleanse yourself. 

This mirror depicts the act of a person… 

–>to clean a bronze mirror it takes constant practice and polishing. Just as having a clear mind takes extreme and habitual effort. 

How can the mind be a false reflection of the world? 

–> selfishness, wrong point of view

–> solution: meditation- center yourself, calm, 


In opening and closing heaven’s gate you can be the female:  according to translation option it can “be” or “Be without” 

           – supposed to be a meditation thing. Where we open and shut ourselves off from the world. Become passive and yet accepting. 


In being enlightened & comprehending all can you do it without knowledge? 

           – think about knowledge as animate action that creates boundaries & categories

           – So, how does comprehending even arise as a question? 

           – Comprehend is knowing how to get along with it. 

            – clarify = understand/simplify

             – knowledge is translatable/related with also assumption

Is it possible to comprehend without shaping experience or understanding with assumed ideas or knowledge. 


Last Stanza: 

7. To give birth, to nurture. To give birth yet not to claim possession (yu), To act (wei) yet not to hold on to, To grow (chang) yet not to lord over (tsai),12 This is called the dark virtue (yüan te).

(2012-09-08). Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary (Kindle Locations 2095-2101). Paragon House. Kindle Edition.

— one professor that it remids him of mentius. 

            – farmer comes in one morning after working in the field all night and his wife asks him what he was doing. He said he was helping the plants grow. But he actually had killed them all because he was trying to pull the plants higher. 

   — dark = passive. 


Chapter 11 

The emptiness as a the use of the thing.


Chapter 12 

the search for the middle path of experience. 

enslave your passions, don’t let them control you. 


Chapter 13 

Accept all negative as a part of the experience of the body. 


How to be in contact with the Tao? 

The practice of the Tao will result in some sort of practical shift that changes how we live our lives. This is because we will be concerned with things greater than ourselves. 

Chapter 8: 

1. A person with superior goodness (shan) is like water, Water is good in benefiting (li) all beings, Without contending (cheng) with any. Situated in places shunned (o) by many others, Thereby it is near (chi) Tao.   2. (Such a person’s) dwelling is the good earth, (His/her) mind (hsin) is the good deep water (yuan), (His/her) associates are good kind people (jen),9 (His/her) speech shows good trust (hsin), (His/her) governing is the good order, (His/her) projects (shih) are carried out by good talents (neng), (His/her) activities (tang) are good in timing. Because he does not contend (pu cheng) with any, He commits no wrong.

(2012-09-08). Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary (Kindle Locations 1971-1988). Paragon House. Kindle Edition.

–> Water = flow with, with with our environment. Find our way into a situation that benefits all. Bend instead of break. move with / out of the way. 

The martial arts idea in essence is tied with the concept of flowing like water. Move & adapt. Don’t need to directly confront all the time.

–> Enlightenment in this chapter almost seems the opposite of moving up out of the cave. Here the idea appears to me more of settling.  (( Such a person’s dwelling is the good Earth)) This isn’t about transcending beyond common life but find a space to exist and live. No need to fight and contest. 

–> One member commented that the act of doing nothing seems very non-motivated. But, we will probably later see that there is more power to passiveness than we may immediately see in terms of speaking out for justice. 

“You don’t bomb the bus you sit in front of it”  – quote of the day from member. 

–> Water as overflowing – peace or great kindness or pasivity can go beyond the normal in a positive way. 


Chapter 9 

1. To hold and fill (a vessel) to the full (ying),10 It had better not be done. To temper and sharpen a sword, Its edge could not be kept (pao) long.   To fill the hall with gold and jade, There is no way to guard (shou,) them. To be rich, exalted, and proud, This is to invite blame (chiu) upon oneself.   2. When work is done (suit, the person (sheng) retires, Such is the Tao of heaven.

(2012-09-08). Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary (Kindle Locations 2037-2049). Paragon House. Kindle Edition.

–> “Water is never flat” 

–> Doing things just right. Be careful and don’t over-do something. 

–> such as too much kindness can lead to someone being taken advantage of or become an enabler 


Chapter 10 

1. In bringing your spiritual (ying) and bodily (p’o) souls to embrace the One, Can (neng) you never depart (li) from it?   2. In concentrating your breath to attain softness, Can you be like an infant (ying erh)?   3. In cleansing your mirror (lan) of the dark (hsüan), Can you make it spotless?   4. In opening and dosing heaven’s gate Wien men), Can you be the female (tz’u)?11   5. In being enlightened (ming) and comprehending all, Can you do it without knowledge?   6. In loving the people and governing the state, Can you practice non-action?   7. To give birth, to nurture. To give birth yet not to claim possession (yu), To act (wei) yet not to hold on to, To grow (chang) yet not to lord over (tsai),12

(2012-09-08). Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary (Kindle Locations 2077-2100). Paragon House. Kindle Edition.

–> How does our breath affect how we act and flow in life? 

–> Control of the breath has a connection to a control of the spirit. 

–> To look into the images further, we are jumping to chapter 28 for a little bit. 

“Being the valley of the world,” ::  also translated as “water course” the emptiness the resting place. 

what do we get from the word infant/child –> What does it mean to be “like a child” – innocence, simplicity with in complexity, going with needs in immediate, creation of world through fresh eyes, forgiving continual moving forward. Happiness is more important than pride? 

Children have a greater flexibility and openness to seeing the possibilities of an object. (divergent thinking) 

Can we return to a place where we are open.

((on another side children are also very easily indoctrinated)) 


Will Breathing really help us with Divergent Thinking? 

            – slows us down.

            – no longer conform to a fast pace traffic and attach to something far greater than the rat race.  

           – Our true selves are more united than we know and taking a breath is something that can refocus from distraction into connection. 


More chatter about the child resulted in jumping to chapter 55. 

1. One who contains te in fullness, Is to be compared to an infant. Wasps, scorpions, and snakes do not bite it, Fierce beasts do not attack it, Birds of prey do not pounce upon it.   2. Its bones weak, its sinews tender, But its grip is firm; Knowing not the union of the female and male animals, Yet its organ stirs. Such is the perfection of its life-force (ching). Crying all day, yet it does not get hoarse. Such is the Perfection of its harmony (ho).   3. To know harmony is to know the everlasting (ch’ang); To know the everlasting is to be illumined (ming). To help life along is to bring ill portend; To use mind (hsin) to direct the life breath (ch’i) is called the strong (ch’iang).   4. When things are full-grown they become old, It is called not following the Way (Tao). Not following the Way one dies early.

(2012-09-08). Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary (Kindle Locations 5235-5255). Paragon House. Kindle Edition.

–> Te is the confucian virtue and this text is saying to let go of the overbearing attempt to control.   ((this chapter goes with the opposite concept)) 

–> there is a strength in weakness.