Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 33

This short little chapter is easy to overlook, yet it contains deep teaching for living a happy and content life.

Knowing others is wisdom
Knowing the self is enlightenment

The characters for knowing    and wisdom     are similar, but the one for wisdom adds a “sun” component underneath. So wisdom is enlightened knowledge. But the character for enlightenment     takes it further by combining the sun  日  and moon     to create pure light beyond knowing and wisdom.

Conquering others requires force
Conquering the self requires inner strength

One of the things I love about martial arts, at least how it’s taught at my school, is that it is much more about developing inner awareness and energy than it is about overcoming someone else by physical force. There is always someone bigger and stronger, but if I develop my inner strength, then I can never be threatened or defeated.

One who stays centered endures
To die yet not perish is immortality

This last line is intriguing–yes? It reminds me of the Bible’s teaching that we must lose our life to gain eternal life. To me, this means that when we recognize that our individual ego self is impermanent and illusory, and let it go, we awaken into our true, eternal nature.

Overall, this chapter teaches that becoming self aware and taking responsibility for ourselves will lead to liberation from the limits of the transitory ego. The bad news is that we can no longer blame anyone for our lack of well being. The good news is that we have the power within ourselves to awaken into truth and joy. By being true to ourselves, we transcend ourselves – the wonderful paradox of awakening!

Walk into the fire
It will burn you to life

8 thoughts on “Tao Te Ching – Chapter 33”

  1. Wow. I love this last line: "Walk into the fire, It will burn you to life". Powerful.

    I also love that the character for enlightenment combines the sun and moon. That feels hopeful to me. My favorite sunset beach walks are when I can see Moon rising either to one side or behind me and sun setting either to the other side or in front of me. It feels incredibly sacred and balancing. And reminds me of my Divine DNA.

    Reading this today feels like a perfectly timed gift – thank you!

  2. So glad this spoke to you, Joy. I love contemplating some of the characters. They are a teaching unto themselves. The images contained in the characters are so full of meaning. And because they are not linear phonetics, they can bypass our analytic brains and speak directly into our souls.

    Love your image of standing between the sun and moon–right in the center of enlightenment–yes?!

    And I'm so pleased you responded to the power of the last line. I sometimes use my non-dominant hand to practice a form of intuitive writing. I am surprised myself at some of the things that end up on the paper! This line came to me in that practice. A gift indeed.

    So nice to hear from you. Thanks for commenting.

  3. A lot of truth to this post. As usual, it is the constant battle to apply that snags it. Counterintuitive but it takes the conscious effort to let go. For me, at least, instinct is the enemy.

  4. Yes, CW, that application part is always the tricky part! So true that we have to consciously practice letting go before it becomes our natural response. What we call instinct is often an ego reaction based in fear.

  5. My dear friend, I think this was a wonderful post. I enjoyed all of it. I thought your finally paragraph summed it up well. I would say that thought alone was filled with wisdom as enlightened knowledge.
    The quotes between the paragraphs were right on.
    Blessings and hugs!

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