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

p. 40


To be crooked is to be perfected; to be bent is to be straightened; to be lowly 1 is to be filled; to be senile is to be renewed; to be diminished is to be able to receive; to be increased is to be deluded. 2

Therefore the Holy Man embraces unity, 3 and becomes the world's model. 4

He is not self-regarding, therefore he is cognizant. 5

He is not egotistic, therefore he is distinguished.

He is not boastful, therefore he has merit. He is not conceited, therefore he is superior. Inasmuch as he strives with none, there are none in the world able to strive with him. 6

p. 41

That ancient maxim—'To be crooked is to become perfected'—was it an idle word? Verily, it includes the whole. 7

"Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made a straight place, and the rough places plain." "Everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." These familiar Bible Texts voice the teaching of Religion in all ages, whether she appear in the garb of the Brahman, the Buddhist, the Jew, or the Christian.

Those who have done most for their fellows have been those who have walked most humbly before their Maker. Selflessness has been their chief characteristic. A child is egotistic. A MAN is unconscious. Abraham, regarded by the Jew, the Mohammedan and the Christian, as a saint, bowed in continual humility before Jehovah—ordering his life according to the directions of the Invisible. Sakyamuni left a palace to wear the beggar's robe. Socrates followed the guidance of his daemon. It is to the humility of Confucius that the Chinese point with the most satisfaction. Jesus came not to be ministered unto but to minister, according to his own saying, "Whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? I am in the midst of you as he that serveth." To be lowly is to be filled.


40:1 The word rendered here "lowly" means—The footsteps of an ox in which water collects; a hollow; a puddle; a swamp.

40:2 "Self-sufficiency invites damage; humility receives benefits."—Shu-kung.

40:3 Lit.—"The One," which Wang-pi explains as "diminished to the uttermost." In Esoteric Buddhism we read that the "supreme controlling cause" "is the same for one man as for every man, the same for humanity as for the animal kingdom, the same for the physical as for the astral or devachanic planes of existence."—8th ed. Amer., p. 307.

"The more a man is one within himself and becometh of single heart, so much the more and higher things doth he understand without labor; for that he receiveth the light of wisdom from above."—Of the Imitation of Christ.

40:4 Having yielded himself to the Tao, as Paul to the cross, "the law in his members." (Rom. vii. 23), or the passion elements of his nature, obey the "law in his mind;" hence he is the "world's model."

40:5 "The eye does not look at itself, therefore it sees everything; the mirror never reflects itself, thus it is able to reflect images. What time has any who is ever attending to himself to give to anything else?"—Su-cheh.

40:6 See ch. 66.

"The unassuming are honorable and illustrious; the humble cannot be surpassed."—Yi-king. (The Book of Changes.)

41:7 Perfection is impossible without a recognition of THE LAW that every cause produces its own effects, and that no effects occur without adequate cause. To this majestic and immutable law Nature offers unceasing sacrifice. It is Nature's implicit submission to a Will higher than herself that secures the accuracy of scientific investigation. In like manner individual perfection is attainable only as there is absolute obedience to Nature's instructions on all planes. Hence the assertion of the text that to be crooked, or to be willing to bow the neck to the yoke imposed by the might of superior Wisdom, includes the whole. Cp. Isa. i, 16.20.

Next: Chapter XXIII