by no means

Return is how the Way moves.
Weakness is how the Way works.

Heaven and earth and the ten thousand things.
are born of being.
Being is born of nothing.

Lao Tzu
Ursula K Le Guin’s version

A short but very hazy poem. The statements are very definitive and open no argument, but their meaning is…slippery.

These poems–I often have little to say about them. Little commentary to offer. That doesn’t make them less important, but I think it makes them less intellectual for me. More instinctual or emotional. Being is born of nothing is a powerful statement, though I can’t really put my finger on what it means to me, but I sometimes wonder if my attachment to absence, nothingness, voids, comes from these simple sort of lines from the Tao Te Ching.

Existence comes from nothingness. Life comes from existence.

The Way is in all things, causes and resolves all things. Its weakness is not a physical weakness or even a weakness of spirit. It’s weak in the way water is weak, always falling, flowing. Always returning to its source to flow again, perhaps in a new way.

As you see, I started at the bottom of the poem and worked back up towards the top, and I think that’s a useful way to go about a lot of Lao Tzu’s image constructions. He often builds images from the top down, so it’s actually easier to understand if you read it backwards, or visualize it backwards, anyrate.

Something to consider for the day.