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The Tao Teh King: A Short Study in Comparative Religion, by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, [1905], at

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The five colors blind men's eyes. 1

The five tones deafen men's ears. 2

The five flavors blunt men's appetites. 3

Galloping and hunting derange men's minds. 4

Articles which are rare limit the freedom of men's actions. 5

On this account the holy man regards the stomach and not the eye. 6

He puts aside the one, that he may take the other in hand. 7

What is born of the senses stupefies more than it stimulates. Man realizes himself only as he polarizes his sense organs in the spiritual, even as his spiritual faculties are polarized in the material; in other words, as he overcomes "the terrible spirit of duality within," described in Rom. vii, and prayed against in the invocation, "Lead us not into temptation," for the rainbow hues of earth blind the eyes to the translucent glories of heaven, its harmonies drown heaven's melodies, its

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viands spoil the taste for the flavor of the "Bread of Life," and hence, the Sage, who, in the language of Paul, is "dead unto sin, but alive unto God," turns from the sensuous to the supersensuous, passes from the narrow boundaries of the material to the limitless expanse of the spiritual.

"Look not thou on beauty's charming,—
Sit thou still when kings are arming,—
Taste not when the wine cup glistens,—
Speak not when the people listens,—
Stop thine ear against the singer,—
Prom the red gold keep thy finger,
Vacant heart, and hand, and eye,
Easy life and quiet die."
                    —Walter Scott.

Said Thomas à Kempis in his "The Imitation of Christ": "Fly the tumult of the world as much as thou canst, for we are quickly defiled and enthralled by vanity." The five colors blind men's eyes.


21:1 viz.: Blue, yellow, white, black, red. Tung-tei-ning notes that the more the eyes see the more they desire. Cf. Eccles. i, 8.

21:2 "Straus says that the five sounds in old Chinese were, C, D, E, G, A, and that they were the same with the five notes of old Scotch airs. The notes F and B are avoided."—China Review, vol. xiii, p. 12.

21:3) viz.: Sour, salt, sweet, tart, bitter. Cf. Eccles. vi, 7.

21:4 "Desire is limitless and the cause of all trouble," says Tung-tei-ning. (Cp. ch. 64.)

21:5 "Because," says Wang-pi, "they lead men away from the straight path into byways full of obstacles."

21:6 "The stomach serves, the eye demands service; therefore, the Sage discards the eye," is Wang-pi's explanation.

Wu-ch’eng says that when the spirit becomes dyed with the colors of the physical world, and feels impelled to investigate it, even to its frontiers, it loses its balance. It is because it is the eye that is chiefly the cause of this deflection that the chapter begins and ends with a condemnation of that organ.

Su-chêh aptly remarks that while the eye covets more than it retains, the stomach desires no more than it requires.

21:7 Lit.—He withdraws from this and accepts that. Wang-pi sums up the teaching of this seven-fold chapter thus—"When the p. 22 ears, eyes, mouth and mind are subservient to the soul, all is well; but when it is otherwise, the spontaneity of man's nature is disturbed."

Chuang-tzu says: "A man who plays for counters will play well. If he stake his girdle (in which he keeps his loose cash), he will be nervous; if yellow gold, he will lose his wits. His skill is the same in each case, but he is distracted by the value of his stake. And everyone who attaches importance to the external becomes internally without resource." Chuang Tzu, by H. A. Giles, p. 234.

"The teaching of Lau-tsze comes here, and in the 13th chapter very near to that of Buddha."—J. Edkins, D. D., China Review, vol. xiii, 12,

Next: Chapter XIII