The Classic of Purity

Lao the Master said, The Great Tao has no bodily form, but It produced and nourishes heaven and earth. The Great Tao has no passions, but It causes the sun and moon to revolve as they do. The Great Tao has no name, but It effects the growth and maintenance of all things. I do not know its name, but I make an effort, and call It the Tao.

Now, the Tao shows itself in two forms; the Pure and the Turbid, and has the two conditions of Motion and Rest. Heaven is pure and earth is turbid; heaven moves and earth is at rest. The masculine is pure and the feminine is turbid; the masculine moves and the feminine is still. The radical Purity descended, and the turbid issue flowed abroad; and thus all things were produced.

The pure is the source of the turbid, and motion is the foundation of rest. If man could always be pure and still, heaven and earth would both revert to non-existence.

Now the spirit of man loves Purity, but his mind disturbs it. The mind of man loves stillness, but his desires draw it away. If he could always send his desires away, his mind would of itself become still. Let his mind be made clean, and his spirit will of itself become pure. As a matter of course the six desires will not arise, and the three poisons will be taken away and disappear.

The reason why men are not able to attain to this, is because their minds have not been cleansed, and their desires have not been sent away. If one is able to send the desires away, when he then looks in at his mind, it is no longer his; when he looks out at his body, it is no longer his; and when he looks farther off at external things, they are things which he has nothing to do with.

When he understands these three things, there will appear to him only vacancy. This contemplation of vacancy will awaken the idea of vacuity. Without such vacuity there is no vacancy. The idea of vacuous space having vanished, that of nothingness itself also disappears; and when the idea of nothingness has disappeared, there ensues serenely the condition of constant stillness.

In that condition of rest independently of place how can any desire arise? And when no desire any longer arises, there is the True stillness and rest. That True stillness becomes a constant quality, and responds to external things without error; yea, that True and Constant quality holds possession of the nature. In such constant response and constant stillness there is the constant Purity and Rest. He who has this absolute Purity enters gradually into the inspiration of the True Tao. And having entered there into, he is styled Possessor of the Tao.

Although he is styled Possessor of the Tao, in reality he does not think that he has become possessed of anything. It is as accomplishing the transformation of all living things, that he is styled Possessor of the Tao. He who is able to understand this may transmit to others the Sacred Tao.

Lao the Master said, Scholars of the highest class do not strive for anything; those of the lowest class are fond of striving. Those who possess in the highest degree the attributes of the Tao do not show them; those who possess them in a low degree hold them fast and display them. Those who so hold them fast and display them are not styled Possessors of the Tao and Its attributes.

The reason why all men do not obtain the True Tao is because their minds are perverted. Their minds being perverted, their spirits become perturbed. Their minds being perturbed, they are attracted towards external things. Being attracted towards external things, they begin to seek for them greedily. This greedy quest leads to perplexities and annoyances; and these again result in disordered

thoughts, which cause anxiety and trouble to both body and mind. The parties then meet with foul disgraces, flow wildly on through the phases of life and death, are liable constantly to sink in the sea of bitterness, and for ever lose the True Tao.

The True and Abiding Tao! They who understand it naturally obtain it. And they who come to understand. the Tao abide in Purity and Stillness.

1 comment

  1. I have trouble expressing the relationship between Tao and people. I usually write “abiding by the tao” or “follow,” but there is a difference in intent, and I find it interesting that you chose that the tao is the one abiding.


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