Dao De Jing 48 – Study gains vs. cultivate surrenders

Dao De Jing 48 – Study gains vs. cultivate surrenders

Study and one accumulates, cultivate (Dao) and one surrenders.

-> When we study in school, at home, in society, typically we acquire and accumulate information.  When we cultivate the Dao, on the other hand, we surrender our attachments and aversions.

Keep surrendering and one will arrive at non-doing.

-> In the beginning, the strong attachments of the someone is surrendered, e.g. attachment to feelings is surrendered, aversion to physical discomfort is surrendered, etc.  At a later stage, attachment to the “someone” and “someone doing” are surrendered, doing happening on its own without the notion of anyone claiming authorship and ownership. This is non-doing.

Not-doing and not not-doing.

-> Not-doing: no “one” doing. not not-doing: no “one” not doing.  Ordinary people just do and not-do; Advanced students align to not doing, masters neither do nor not-do.

Rule the world in non-doingness, if one perceive something to do, he is not sufficient to rule the world.

-> Be in the world in non-doingness.  In such state, all is perfect.  When attention is drawn back to the self and its perception, the notion of something to do arises, one becomes limited and not sufficient to rule the world (discordant from the universal rhythm of the Dao).

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Chapter 48 Discussion:

This chapter outlines a key attitude in cultivation – surrenders.  In conventional study, one usually thinks of learning something, acquiring something, understanding something, and realizating something, and realizing something.  At a more advance stage, all of the above continues, yet no separate self drives or claims to drive the process.  All becomes part of the flow, with one merely agree to and allow the process to unfold.  Such is surrender.

Bilingual version of ch48:  http://www.lisiming.net/ddj34-52/


4 responses to “Dao De Jing 48 – Study gains vs. cultivate surrenders”

  1. sight Avatar

    ‘When attention is drawn back to the self and its perception, the notion of something to do arises, one becomes limited and not sufficient to rule the world (discordance from the universal rhythm of the Dao.’

    It would seem to me that this can be traced to be a big part of our problems in the world. When I first looked around, i saw people not being still. Always needing to ‘do’ something, and then the trouble it leads to. Overharvesting of the worlds resources, overbuilding, constantly needing to make laws, rules, ordinances, and it just goes on. One of the hardest things for me in this practice of stillness is to seperate from irritation. Can you speak a little on maintaining non’attachment from our personal emotions, and especially when it relates to others, or in situations ?

    1. derek Avatar

      This is a pretty true description to what happen to most of us and our perceptions of the world.

      To transcend irritation, first thing you need to do is to face it and accept it as what it is. It can come from personal, others, or from the collective whole. When it comes, stay aware to it, welcome it, stop resisting to it, embrace it, and surrender into it. Just like other part of perception, they come and go. It is fruitless to try to prevent it from happening, as to try to prolong its happening. Remains as you are as in stillness, stay centered and non-attached, and the phenomena (or your reaction to it) will subside. Ask for guidance if in doubt.

      1. sight Avatar

        no “one” not doing. this would be the perfection of living in accord with the dao wouldn’t it ? there would be no ‘one’ to be doing the ‘non-doing’ and this would seem to be total dis-attachment from the selfish nature of the ego. to me this seems to be the highest goal, or result, of all spiritual practice, no matter the tradition because we all must continue to live in the world right ? it’s easy enough for me to be a peaceful individual feeling good about my spiritual awareness by myself, but add others and relationships and I see what is the reality of my progress. it seems even the attachment to my own shortcomings and mistakes must be sacrificed. this is a difficult task because in letting go I certainly don’t want to let go of trying to perfect living with the dao ? how do you see this ?

        1. derek Avatar

          Dis-attachment from the selfish tendency implies negation and separation, whereas acceptance and transcendence allows non-attached participation, and therefore is broader and more embracing.

          Yes, a common theme in different traditions is selfless service. It is the “to what” that marks the difference.

          Individual cultivation could facilitate awareness, while sharing blessings and sufferings in the world is another phrase of cultivation.

          In letting go, let go too of the desire to reach the Dao or certain states of consciousness (see Daoist Sutra of Everlasting Peace), this too need to go in the transcendence of the self.

          What is Dao anyway? Does Dao always give the self peace and bliss? When one truly surrender one’s life to the Dao/Universe, one flows with whatever things/people/states along the way. If the universe wants me to feel emotions, to think, to work, to love, so be it. Who is complaining?

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