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Wisdom of Tao



Wisdom of Tao:
Contraction is addition
And not subtraction.
Weakness in its full balance
Defeats the hubris of strength.

Read now from Tao
What’s said in verse thirty six —
Knowledge of balance:
All things in moderation
Brings harmony to the soul.

Verse 36 of Tao (First Stanza):

“Contraction pulls at that
which extends too far
Weakness pulls at that
which strengthens too much
Ruin pulls at that
which rises too high
Loss pulls at life
when you fill it with too much stuff.”

Take the narrow path.
The wide one is full of traps.
It leads to downfall.
Follow path of the psyche.
For therein dwells the Spirit.

Wisdom of Tao
Is Wisdom of the Spirit
And of discernment
For guidance and direction
To all things done with balance.

Follow thus The Way
The hidden path of Knowledge
Where Wisdom awaits
Not seen materially
Revealed only by Spirit.

About this poem

The Wisdom of the Tao: Over several centuries philosophers of Western cultures, like Nietzsche, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, Foucault, and other philosophers of Existentialism, have pondered over and meditated on the wisdom of Eastern philosophy, as articulated in the wisdom poetry of the Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese classical text of sacred poetry written around 400 BC and traditionally credited to the sage Lao Tzu. The main idea of the Tao Te Ching, “The Ultimate Teaching,” is for human societies to live life in harmony, balance, peace, and unity, with the explicit proposition that this can be accomplished by following the metaphorical “road less taken,” expressed in the opening lines of verse 1 (first stanza) of the Tao Te Ching, which reads, enigmatically and with subtlety, as follows: “A way that can be walked/is not The Way/ A name that can be named/ is not The Name. ” The distinctive and contrastive use of lowercase and uppercase letters for the common nouns employed in the poem, supported by the contrastive use of the definite and the indefinite articles, is applied to reveal the subtle intention of the message: What is seen and measured with the naked eyes is a mere shadow of what is unfolded and revealed by the Spirit. An extended Japanese-style 5-line Tanka poem is employed in this poem to develop and deliver the inherent wisdom message of the Tao Te Ching. 

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Written on June 29, 2022

Submitted by karlcfolkes on June 29, 2022

Modified by karlcfolkes

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Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1995 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s “Dear Mili” Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

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1 Comment
  • teril
    "Take the narrow path..." Does this narrow path ultimately give way to expansiveness at the moment it disappears?
    LikeReplyReport1 month ago

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"Wisdom of Tao" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 7 Dec. 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/130865/wisdom-of-tao>.

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