Sacred Texts  Taoism  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

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

p. 30


First the supreme. Then a sense of separateness. Next preferences and eulogies. Lastly, fear. Then scorn. 1

Hence it is plain that lack of sincerity has its origin in superficial faith.

Cautious! They valued their words, 2 accomplished their purposes, settled their affairs, and the people all said: 'We are spontaneous.' 3

In Eden, man at first had no consciousness of himself. He was untempted because without personal desire. It was the contemplation of the fruit as of something which had the power of pleasing, which gave birth to the idea of caring and striving for that phenomenal self whose reflection finds its center in our emotions and judgments. It is the separation of our personalities from our true individuality which arouses within us the sense of conflict. First the Supreme; then a sense of separateness. Preferences, eulogies, fear, scorn, are inevitable results. At this stage man loses his power over nature. "Thorns and thistles" grow apace. Duty becomes labor. The curse is pronounced—"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread."

How shall the status quo ante be attained? By retracing the false steps. Contemplation of the True and Eternal must revive and nourish the lost faith. The emotions must be brought under control, so that no excess of feeling shall cause the mouth to exaggerate or distort truth. Words must be weighed, so that there shall ever be a proper relation between the spoken speech and the person to whom it is addressed. By sympathetic insight, which looks at everything from the view-point

p. 31

of the other, and speaks accordingly, one's purposes will be accomplished, and those affected by us helped and not hindered. Without understanding why, the whole neighborhood will be benefited. And the people all said, "We are natural."

"Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. If any man seemeth to be religious, while he bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his heart, this man's religion is vain. For in many things we all stumble. If any stumble not in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also."


30:1 The various stages of descent into matter. Students will recall the well-known Gnostic phrase, "the falling down of the Aeons."

30:2 "The ancients were slow of speech, lest in their acts they should not come up to what they said. The wise man is slow of utterance, but diligent in action."—Confucius.

30:3 Chuang-tzu aptly describes the mass of mankind as babes who receive "the benefits of a mother's care without troubling themselves to think to whom they are indebted for them."

Next: Chapter XVIII