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

p. 106


Practice non-action. 1 Be concerned with non-concern. 2 Taste the flavorless. Account the small as great, and the few as many. 3 For hatred return perfection. 4

Manipulate difficulties while they are easy. Take in hand great things while they are insignificant. Every difficult thing in the world had its origin in what was at first easy. Every great thing in the world was once insignificant. Therefore the Holy Man makes no distinctions and thus he is able to accomplish that which is great. 5

Small faith can be placed in promises lightly made. 6

The easier a matter is reckoned the more difficult it proves at the last; 7 for this reason the

p. 107

[paragraph continues] Holy Man sees difficulties in everything, and therefore he encounters no difficulties.

The man who has tasted the flavor of the flavorless, in which all flavors are concealed, is detached and free; he regards everything as alike great and alike small; as equally difficult and equally easy; neither careless nor indifferent; undertaking the most difficult tasks with ease, yet not overlooking the difficulties involved in the easiest affairs, he completes the greatest without difficulty. Living in the eternal, he neither cleaves to this, nor swerves from that.

This is the ideal life!

"What you do not wish others to do unto you, do not do unto them," said Confucius. Of Buddha it is recorded that he said, "A man who foolishly does me wrong I will return to him the protection of my ungrudging love; the more evil comes from him, the more good shall go from me." "He who beareth no ill-will to any being, friendly and compassionate, without attachment and egoism, balanced in pleasure and pain, and forgiving, ever content, harmonious, with the self controlled, resolute, with Manas and Buddhi dedicated to Me, he, My devotee, is dear to Me," was one of Krishna's instructions to Arjuna. In an earlier section Lao-tzu wrote "I would return good for good. I would also return good for evil." In a similar spirit Jesus said to His disciples "Resist not him that is evil; but whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, return to him the other also. Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you."

The same commands confront us, no matter to what religious Teacher we turn. By each we are told to rise above the love which is personal, whose shadow is hate, to the love which is universal, in which there is no room for hate; then we are bid rise still higher to the Love which is impersonal, which, because it identifies itself with All, is a segment of the circle which unites the divinity of man with the humanity of God, which sees greatness in the smallest and knows no distinctions. It promises nothing without a full sense of its responsibility. It is prepared for every difficulty, therefore It is able to meet hatred and misrepresentation with PERFECTION.


106:1 vide Manual iv, p. 65 et seq.

106:2 cf. I Pet. v, 7. Matt. vi, 25-34.

106:3 Because there is "nothing either great or small."

106:4 "For hatred return perfection," i.e. avoid any emotion which will create in fellow-beings "any of the emotions on the side of hate and vice." Be "as gold that melts and becomes the purer the more it is exposed to the fire." "Perfection" is another rendering of the Chinese character elsewhere translated "energy." It includes all the attributes of the Tao.

106:5 He recognizes no distinctions such as important and unimportant. The text might be rendered "Therefore the Holy Man does not attempt great things, and on that account he is able to accomplish the greatest."

106:6 "The Master said 'He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.'"—Confucian Analects, xiv, 21.

106:7 The Empress Dowager of China, who has for so many years ruled China, in the teeth of almost insuperable difficulties, affords a good illustration of the truth of this chapter. Ku-hung-ming, a bright, well educated Chinaman, who took his M.A. in Edinburgh, thus describes the Empress on p. 13 of his "Papers From a Viceroy's Yamen."—She is "neither anti-foreign nor pro-foreign, neither reactionary nor progressive." This evenly balanced mentality enabled her to hold her own amid the conflicting interests and intrigues of the Pekingese Court.

Next: Chapter XLIV