Dao De Jing 34 – The smallness and bigness of the Dao
The great Dao is everywhere, it can be here and there.
-> Beyond boundary and separation, omnipresence.
All things rely on It to manifest, but It does not interfere and does not claim credit.
-> Everyone has its own course, in accordance to its tendencies and choices.
–> If “our source” would interfere “us”, there would be a dualistic separation between the “source” and “us”, which could not happen when the source is beyond separation. The notion of something higher than us and manipulating us stem from the believe that we are separated from our source.
–> Furthermore, the Dao does not claim credit, like the sea doesn’t claim the fishes to be its own. There is no need for claim credit to be the Sea.
It is small, as It nurture all things, but It does not control, and has no desire;
-> In the human world, we weight people by how much things one owns and controls, i.e. how much money, assets, relationships, power, control, yet the Dao declares none. Therefore people see Dao to be small.
It is big, as all things belong to It, even though It does not control.
-> We also weight people by how many things one creates, e.g. things, theories, systems, organizations, offsprings, etc. To this end, the Dao is the biggest of all, as from it arises all things.
The never proclamation of bigness, therefore constitute to Its bigness.
-> When something can be described, its bigness is defined and limited. As Dao is beyond description, it bigness is infinite.
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Chapter 34 Discussion:
Besides describing the quality of the Dao, and the theory behind its bigness, this chapter uses Dao to illustrate the power of smallness, i.e. it is from smallness that manifests the biggest. In the human society, great leaders are most often humble, and see themselves as the servant of their group or all. Dao is the ultimate leader, it nurtures all unconditionally, does not interfere, and claims no credit. Its smallness beyond taking credit leads to its bigness beyond description.
We can learn from this quality by following the Dao in our lives. Stay humble, serve unconditionally, and do our part diligently without the constant manipulations and taking credit by the “self”. Allow life to flow, welcome it, and accept it with gratitude. By doing so, we get closer to the Dao and can flow with it. When this occurs, we are small, and we are big.
Bilingual text of Ch34: https://www.lisiming.net/philosophy/chinese-philosophy/daoist/daoist-philosophy/dao-de-jing-core-33-chapters/ddj34-52/
Can we learn to be small in our meditation practice? Can we learn to be small by practicing Tai Chi? Even Kung Fu?
Right direction. What do you think? How could one apply smallness in meditation, Tai Chi, and Kungfu?
Meditation? Perhaps via the breath. At least as a guide initially.
Small subtle breath… leading one to the teeny tiny portal… I don’t know…
It seems as though the smaller (more subtle and more still) one becomes in meditation, the more one expands. So in some sense in meditation becoming small is becoming big.
Tai Chi? Don’t know hardly anything about Tai Chi, have so little experience with it…
but it seems as though it is close to meditation in its spirit. It feels very close to meditation, except that the body is moving instead of standing still.
Kung Fu? This is very difficult. Comparing meditation and Kung Fu is like comparing living an austere life secluded in a remote cave vs living in the world. Perhaps the difference is nothing for one that is realized, but for the rest of us… it is very difficult. Perhaps to be like the wind, to be like water, earth, or fire, perhaps this is to sacrifice our egos to something else. Do we become smaller? I do not know. If we become a monkey or a tiger, the graceful crane or snake, have we become small(er)? I do not know. Maybe when our body moves on its own rather than us moving it, then maybe in Kung Fu we have become small.
I have never moved like the wind, have never really been a monkey. My arms and legs have never moved on their own and so I have no idea if any of this makes any difference. I have no idea how one becomes small.
In meditation, one let go of the attachments of and to the “self”, one will become small and then non-existence, then there is bigness.
In Tai Chi and Kungfu, it is meditation in movements. One focuses one-pointedly in the movements, until there is no “self” doing the movements.
In Eastern traditions (Daoist/Buddhist/Hindu), practitioners often starts meditating in the sitting position. When experience/realization comes, then one proceeds to maintaining the experience/realization in other postures/movements/states such as while standing, moving, sleeping, etc.
As one proceed, the mind grows quieter and the “self” becomes smaller. One is more able to see the errors and limitations of the self, and more able to see harmony, beauty and perfection of the world.
By surrendering our “self”, we see the majesty of life.