An Affectionate Word: Finger
This piece was 'inspired' by the back cover of a book.
And then I turned to the front and began!
Reproduced below is the picture and some of the text
from that back cover.
I am grateful to: North Atlantic Books, Richmond, California.
2320 Blake Street, Berkeley, Calif 94704.
"LAO-TZU: MY WORDS ARE EASY TO UNDERSTAND".L.C.
Catalog Card Number 82-241268
I trust that this piece may serve only as a recomendation
for that book in its entirety.
"Lao -Tzu: "My Words
Are Very Easy To Understand" is sponsored by the
Society for the Study of Native Arts and Sciences, a
nonprofit educational corporation whose goals are to
develop an ecological and cross-cultural perspective
linking various scientific, social, and artistic fields;
to nurture a holistic view of arts, sciences, humanities,
and healing; and to publish and distribute literature
on the relationship of mind, body, and nature."
When Whiskers Man spoke he asserted
that " ... only Tai Chi" corresponds with
all relevant and associated classic lines of thought,
from shallow to deep.
By this does he not imply that all others do not correspond
In lectures translated from the Chinese in ISBN 0-913028-91-6
by Tam C Gibbs (as above), he also says:
An Affectionate Word About the Class on Lao-tzu
Having recently completed Lao tzu My Words Are Very
Easy To Understand, my students entreated me to teach
Opening date for the class is August 15, 1970, and I
have been moved by the occasion to address a few remarks
to clarify my reasons for writing this book.
Lao-tzu wrote in the period following the Six Classics
and preceeding the Four Books, so he was one of the
earliest writers in Chinese history. His work describes
the merest traces and indescribable marvels of the Tao
and promotes Non-action, concepts which are central
to these unique teachings of thousands of years ago.
A paragraph later:
Lao-tzu himself says, "my words are very easy to
understand." How is it then that even after more than
a thousand expert commentaries we are still in suspense?
The commentaries of the Han Dynasty, from Ho-shang Kung
(fl. 179-159 B.C.), to Yen chun-peing' (a.k.a. Yen Tsun,
fl. 53-24 B.C.), to Ko Hsüan (fl. 210 A.D.), are
comparatively appropriate. Then came Wang Pi (226-249
A.D.), who ignores the opinions of his predecessors
and diverges from the meaning of the text. Ever since
the T'ang and Sung Dynasties, each scholar has had his
own interpretation, transforming Lao-tzu into a million
different shapes. Nine out of ten researchers invoke
Chuang-tzu as the prime source on Lao-tzu. But Chuang-tzu
communicates through fables; how can we follow his footprints
to find Lao-tzu?
Because of the vast differences between ancient
and modern Chinese, the Han Dynasty commentaries on
semantics are most useful. One can sort through systematic
commentaries, from Ho-shang Kung to Wang Pi, and select
the cogent ones. One also ought to listen to the varied
and contrasting theories. If sense and meaning collide,
be content to suspend judgment.
Although Lao-tzu was a profoundly practical man,
human emotions disgusted him greatly, and he longed
to get away. He hoped for a new beginning through metamorphosis,
or, as the phrase has it, "his step leaves no footprint."
How much more difficult it is to find the tracks of
Only one man understood, and that was Confucius. Did
he not say Lao-tzu was like a dragon? How right he was!
How can any flying or walking creature compare with
Hence, in making this Lao-tzu: My Words Are Very
Easy to Understand, I have focused on Lao-tzu's "my
words have their sources, my deeds their precedents."
For instance, "through Non-action there is nothing left
undone," also means that through Non-desire there is
nothing left undesired. Hence, "use the orthodox to
govern a nation; use the unorthodox to wage war," "governing
a large country is like frying a small fish," and "do
nothing and yet win the world," illustrate that the
orthodox can turn into the unorthodox. The unorthodox
finally returns to Non-action, even to the traces and
marvels at the gateway to Lao-tzu's Tao. To put it simply,
the secret is all in Lao-tzu's esoteric magic. Can we
really practice it or not? I am afraid we can only wait
New York City