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

p. 48


Good doers leave no tracks. 1 True words have no defects. Skillful plans require no calculations. Able closers need no locks and bars, yet none can open what they shut. 2 Real strength wants no cords, yet none can loose it. 3

It follows that the Holy Man when helping others, works in accordance with the unchanging goodness. Hence, He rejects none. He does the same when helping nature to develop. Therefore, he rejects nothing. This may be called 'obscured perception.' 4

Thus the Good Man is the bad man's instructor; the bad man the Good Man's material. Yet he does not esteem himself a teacher, 5 nor does he love his material. 6

Although one may be wise, here he is deceived. 6a

p. 49

This is 'The Cardinal Mystery.' 7

The Christ declared that his disciples were the salt of the earth, the light of the world; but salt and light act towards all things with equal impartiality; moreover, the salt, because one with the whole, is unnoticed when the flavors are praised; light is indistinguishable from the landscape which it reveals. "Good doers leave no tracks." It is this universalizing of his heart which gives the Sage his power. One with God he is one with all. The fuel dies that the flame may soar. What would become of man if the atmospheric oxygen insisted on remaining itself? The mother travails in pain that the child may be born. The cross is the center of all—"the symbol, not of separatism, but of universality."


48:1 Matt. vi. 3.

48:2 i.e. They are independent of externals.

48:3 The paragraph teaches that the most forceful energies operate on the spiritual planes. Prayers are more valuable than gold.

48:4 In his dealings with humanity the Sage never departs from the eternal law of the Divine Wisdom, that every cause produces its own effect, and that no effect occurs without an adequate cause. The idea may be illustrated by a verse in section 99 of the Koran: "Whosoever hath wrought an ant's weight of good shall behold it, And whosoever hath wrought an ant's weight of evil shall behold it." (Stanley Poole's translation.)

The "perception" of the Sage is said to be obscured because it regards the hidden Law, rather than the immediate gain or immediate loss of the individual. The miracles of the Christ were the phenomena of his ministry of which he thought least.

48:5 Says Su Cheh: "Though himself unable to forget the world, the Sage is able to let the world forget him."

48:6 11e radiates power as the sun heat. The Lord Jesus was more concerned to witness for the truth than to save individuals.

48:6a Cf. chaps. 20, 58, 73.

49:7 Huai-nan-tza illustrates the general teaching of the chapter by two illustrations from Chinese history. The Builder of the Great Wall could not retain the succession to the throne in his family; whereas the descendants of the virtuous Wu Wang swayed the scepter for thirty-four generations.

"Mystery" here reminds us of The Abyss of chap. 1.

Next: Chapter XXVIII