Keep an eye on your luggage

I keep a copy of the Daodejing (Gia-fu Feng translation) by my bed to dip into when the mood takes me. And sometimes a passage I’ve read many times before suddenly makes a new kind of sense.

Of course it is an often opaque text, with unclear meanings, and translated differently in different versions, so it partly acts as a Rohrschach test – we see in it what we want to see.

Anyway, I was looking at Chapter 26:

The heavy is the root of the light;

The still is the master of unrest.

 

Therefore the wise, travelling all day,

Do not lose sight of their bagage.

Though there are beautiful things to be seen,

They remain unattached and calm.

 

… To be light is to lose our root.

To be restless is to lose control.

The first part makes rich sense to qigong and internal arts practitioners. We first release the weight of the body into the earth, and only when we are well rooted do we allow ourselves to extend upwards into Heaven. From a ‘spiritual’ perspective, this means only allowing our spirit to soar (yang) when we have a sound and still base (yin) , and thus avoid floating away unstably into various kinds of mental unrest.

It was the second part that made me laugh as it sounds so prosaic. I don’t know how Daodejing scholars understand this, but to me it presents the image of the traveller who, while entranced by all the new sights, sounds and smells they encounter, is down to earth enough to make sure no-one is walking off with their luggage.

As ever, yin-yang harmony rules.

 

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