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

p. 85


Birth is an exit; death an entrance. 1

Three in ten are ways of life; three in ten are ways of death; three in ten also of those who live move into the realm of death. 2 Why is this? Because of their excessive strivings after life. 3 It has been said that he who thoroughly understands how to care for his life will not need to shun the rhinoceros or the tiger; he need not fear weapons even in the midst of a battle. The rhinoceros finds no place into which to thrust its horn; the tiger no place into which to fix its claws; nor the sword a place into which to flesh its point. Why is this? Because such an one is not moved by the thought of death. 4

p. 86

"So dear to heav’n is saintly chastity,
 That when a soul is found sincerely so,
 A thousand liveried angels lackey her,
 Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt,
 And in clear dream, and solemn vision,
 Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear,
 Till oft converse with heav’nly habitants
 Begin to cast a beam on th’ outward shape,
 The unpolluted temple of the mind,
 And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence,
 Till all be made immortal."
                                 (Milton's Comus.)

"When all desires that dwell in the heart cease, then the mortal becomes immortal, and obtains Brahman." (Upanishads.)


The student will find an admirable summary of the various Taoist explanations of this chapter in Dr. Edkins' essay, entitled "Tao Te Ching" in the thirteenth volume of The China Review.


85:1 "We begin our life surrounded by the Karma of our former existences; as we have acted during life so we leave it to enter another existence."—Thos. Kingsmill, in loc.

A native commentator supplies the following: "When the passions come out from a man, and he within is calm, he lives: when they enter and so lead to action, he dies."

85:2 The text is enigmatical. Scholars are not agreed as to whether it should read "Three in ten" or "Thirteen." I have tried to faithfully represent the text, but see Secret Doctrine (vol. i), pp. 401-403.—2 × 6 + 1 = 13; also, vol. ii, 440.

85:3 Prof. Legge describes the first three as "those who eschewed all things, both internal and external, tending to injure health." The second three as "those who pursued courses likely to cause disease and shorten life; the third would be those who thought that by mysterious and abnormal courses they could prolong life, but only injured it. Those three classes being thus disposed of, there remains only one in ten rightly using the Tao, and he is spoken of in the next paragraph."

85:4 Mencius quotes the philosopher Tsang as saying "If, on self-examination, I find that I am not upright, shall I not be in fear even of a poor man in his loose garments of hair clothe If, on self-examination, I find that I am upright, I will go forward against thousands and tens of thousands."

Says Chuang-tzu: "The Sage, answered Wang-i, is a spiritual being. If the ocean were scorched up he would not feel hot. If all the rivers were frozen hard he would not feel cold."

Next: Chapter LI