Dao De Jing 2 – Dualistic nature of worldly standards, vs. non-dual lifestyle of sages
Everyone know what is beauty, because of the concept of not-beauty; Everyone know what is virtue, because of the concept of not-virtue;
-> quality behind the adjective “beauty” exists not independently, but co-dependently with a judgement/comparison to what considered “not beauty”. i.e. when one let go of labeling something as beautiful or ugly, there is be perception before these adjectives arise in one’s mind.
Therefore, beingness and nothingess creates each other, difficult and easy forms each other, long and short calibrates each other, high and low leans toward each other,tone and sound harmonizes each other, front and back follows each other.
-> similar holds true to the opposites of virtue-not virtue, being-nothing, difficult-easy, long-short, high-low, tone-sound, front-back.
Therefore the sage manages affairs without the concept of doing anything, and he educates other through his speechless living.
-> Sages see the falsity of the “self”, and the illusory nature of a separate “i“ “doing” anything. Since language and speeches are commonly perceived to be spoken and listened dualistically (by one “i” to another “i”), the sages, in order to avoid further misleading the listeners, speak little in his life.
All things do their works without slightest complaint, they give born to others without claiming ownership. they do things without telling others what they have done, and they retire when their job is done. Because of their retirement, their achievement is eternal.
-> look at the nature, plants live their lives without complaint, they give birth without claiming ownership, they do things without the on-going need to inform others what they have done, and they retire when their job is done (flower wither after spreading pollen, fruit wither/eaten/carried away to spread seed, a lot of plants die every winter). As they have no attachment to the temporary (flower, fruit, plant), they remains at one with their real nature, which beyond and not subjected to the temporariness of the phenomenal changes.
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Chapter 2 discussion:
Chapter one introduces the Dao as beyond speech, name, form and non-form. This chapter further discusses the limitations of dualistic separation commonly adopted in the world. What for? you may ask. Instead of continuing with our current perception of separation and duality, What benefit is there to adopt this state of nonduality? Laozi explains, a wise sage is like plant in the nature, it comes to the world, live, grow, blossom, fruit, and die, without attachment to any specific stage in life, any need to claim any process being “i”, and any need to tell everybody about their achievement. Because of their non-attachment to all this transitory, they remains at one with their real nature. which is everlasting and beyond changes.
DDJ Chapter 2 bilingual text: https://www.lisiming.net/philosophy/chinese-philosophy/daoist/daoist-philosophy/dao-de-jing-core-33-chapters/ddj1-8/