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

p. 43


Who tiptoes, totters. 1 Who straddles, stumbles. 2 The self-regarding cannot cognise; the egotistic are not distinguished; the boastful are not meritorious; the self-conceited cannot excel. Such from the standpoint of the Tao are like remnants of food, or parasites, 3 which all things probably detest. Hence, those who possess the Tao are not so. 4

In a universe where self-sacrifice is the master law of life the self-seeker is a blot on the sun, a fog obscuring the landscape, a cog slowing the wheel of evolution. He is an intruder for whom there is no rightful place, a shadow masquerading as a reality. Like salt, which has lost its flavor, he is "fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill" (Matt. v, 13). Yet so infinite is the divine patience at the heart of things, that, "from the standpoint of the Tao," parasitical though he be, the self-seeker is permitted to remain, notwithstanding his inharmony with the scheme of the world. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is long suffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (II Pet. iii, 9.)


43:1 "Besser nicht anfangen, Denn erliegen."—German Proverb.

43:2 "He who stretches his legs does not walk (easily)."—James Legge.

43:3 Cf. Marcus Aurelius' simile of the man who separates himself from nature. "He is an abscess on the universe."—Bk. v. ch. ix.

43:4 The teaching of the chapter is illustrated by a quotation in the "Doctrine of the Mean." "It is said in the Book of Poetry, 'Over her embroidered robe she puts a plain garment,' intimating a dislike to the display of the elegance of the former. Just so it is the way of the Lordly Man to prefer concealment, while he every day becomes more illustrious, and it is the way of the small-minded man to seek notoriety, while he daily goes more and more to ruin."

"A wise man never competes under any circumstances."—Confucius.

Next: Chapter XXV