Tao Te Ching #5: “Heaven and earth are not humane”

Notes from the Grid: The Perpetual Adolescent Human Voices Wake Us

Preorder print copies of Notes from the Grid here. https://wordandsilence.com/human-voices-wake-us/ For the next month or so, I will be reading a short book of essays, Notes from the Grid, that I have been writing since 2006. Tonight, I read the sixth and seventh (which begins at 20:30). Spirit Murmur, the album of string quartet music I mention in the episode, composed by Alan Hovhaness and performed by the Shanghai Quartet, can be purchased here. As always, send any comments to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. — Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support
  1. Notes from the Grid: The Perpetual Adolescent
  2. Notes from the Grid: All Things Can Console
  3. Notes from the Grid: To Criticize the Critic
  4. Notes from the Grid: Rediscovering the Hidden Life
  5. Walt Whitman's Mystical Poetry

Heaven and earth are not humane;
they regard all beings as straw dogs.
Sages are not humane;
they see all people as straw dogs.
The space between have and earth
is like bellows and pipes,
empty yet inexhaustible,
producing more with movement.
The talkative reach their wits’ end
again and again;
that is not as good as keeping centered.

– Thomas Cleary


Heaven and Earth are heartless
treating creatures like straw dogs
sages are heartless too
they treat people like straw dogs
between Heave and Earth
how like a bellows
empty but inexhaustible
each stroke produces more
talking only wastes it
better to protect what’s inside

– Red Pine


Heaven and earth refuse kind-kindness:
Treating all things as dogs of straw.
Wise rulers too refuse kin-kindness:
Taking gentlefolk as dogs of straw.

The space that heaven and earth frame
Works like a kiln-bellows and airpipes,
Which though emptying is not exhausted,
And activated, pours more forth.
A ruler’s swiftly spent who speaks too much;
Better for him to guard his inner state.

– Moss Roberts

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