Today we will continue our exploration of the Tao Te Ching, looking at verses 19 and 20.
Hey everyone, this is Acyuta-bhava from Nightlight Astrology. And today, we are continuing with our exploration of the Tao Te Ching. And we are going through the next two verses. This is verses 19 and 20 today. You do not have to have been following this series sequentially; to get something out of it, what we're doing is we're breaking down some of the teachings of one of the most ancient, beautiful, mysterious sacred texts on our planet, the Tao Te Ching, and we are also looking at it with an eye for how it may apply to us as students daily students of the stars. So you can go back and listen to all the previous episodes in the series and probably get something good out of doing that, as well. But you know, you could always watch any of these as standalone episodes.
All right, well, I am going to go ahead, and the way that I do this is I look at two verses at a time, and today is verses 19 and 20. So let me just go ahead and put this into a full-screen mode so that we can put the translation up on the screen so that you can see it. All right, here we go.
So, verse 19, I'm going to read through both verses. And then I'm going to reread verse 19 and offer some reflections and then reread verse 20 and offer some reflections. This text has played a large role in my life in terms of the way that I approach astrology and is often a part of my sort of more morning meditation and ritual before I create whatever content I'm creating. And I think there's a lot in it for us as astrologers, and there's a lot of carryover between the philosophy that ancient astrologers had and the philosophy of the Tao Te Ching. So I hope you guys enjoy this.
Verse 19 reads like this,
Abandon holiness, discard cleverness, and the people will benefit a hundredfold. Abandon the rules of kindness, discard righteous actions, and the people will return to their own natural affections. Abandoned book learning, discard the rules of behavior, and the people will have no worries. Abandoned plots and schemes discard profit seeking, and the people will not become thieves. These lessons are mere elaborations. The essence of my teaching is this. See with original purity, embrace with original simplicity, reduce what you have, and decrease what you want.
This is verse 20.
The difference between a formal yes and a casual yeah, how slight the difference between knowing the truth and not knowing it. How great must I fear what others fear? Should I fear desolation when there is abundance? Should I fear darkness when that light is shining everywhere? Nonsense. The people of this world are steeped in their merrymaking as if gorging at a great feast or watching the sights of springtime; it here, I sit without a sign staring blank-eyed like a child. I am but a guest in this world while others rush about to get things done. I accept what is offered. Oh, my mind is like that of a full aloof to the clamor of life around me. Everyone seems so bright and alive with the sharp distinctions of day. I appear dark and dull with the blending of differences by night. I'm drifting like an ocean floating like the high winds. Everyone is so rooted in this world yet. I have no place to rest my head; indeed, I am different. I have no treasure but the Eternal Mother. I have no food but what comes from her breast.
Two really beautiful verses. I'm gonna go back to verse 19. And I'm going to reread it and then just share a few reflections as I go along.
Abandon holiness, discard cleverness, and the people will benefit 100-fold. Abandon the rules of kindness, discard righteous actions, and the people will return to their own natural affections. Abandoned book learning discard the rules of behavior, and the people will have no worries. Abandoned plots and schemes, discard profit seeking, and the people will not become thieves. These lessons are mere elaborations. The essence of my teaching is this see with original purity, embrace original simplicity, reduce what you have, and decrease what you want.
All sounds beautiful, but easier said than done. What I love about this verse is that, essentially, the essence is to stop trying to be good, stop trying to be spiritual stop trying to be right. I don't think it's wrong for us to want to be good or right or kind. It's a good instinct or impulse within us. And it's not always easy. Sometimes we have to work at it. But what I love about this verse is it's saying something about kindness, something about doing the right thing, something about loving in the right way. Something about how we become intelligent or wise, or the best way to behave, has to do with getting back to a kind of pure, simple innocence.
I think a lot about my children when I think about this verse and how the simplicity and the honesty and the innocence with which they live and how many different mystical traditions have told us that we can't understand this mystical teaching or this path until we become like children, again, there's something about the state of mind of a child that,
you know, is innocent, and it's not just oh, well, because they're, they're young, and they haven't lived yet. There's something about that state that I know, for example, that I returned to any time that I've had a good meditation in my morning practice. The meditation isn't about getting somewhere; it's actually just sort of about emptying all of my pretension out. It empties all of my ambitions, even the ones that I think of as really good ambitions, like being good or kind, or, you know, being spiritual or whatever; there's something about needing to empty ourselves of even those kinds of ambitions, that ends up bringing us closer to all of the things that we would you know, that we would want; kind, righteous actions, you know, intelligent, wise behavior. And this is advice that's being given to rulers, which I think is fantastic. I mean, how great would it be if in leadership training in any level of government or companies or, you know, different kinds of industries, if we had some of these teachings from the Tao Te Ching, about how to lead, don't try to be holy, or clever or righteous or kind, don't, you know, put up on a pedestal, how much you've learned and studied.
It's as though we can idolize being learned or good, or we can idolize being kind or clever or holy. And as soon as we do, there's something really disingenuous about it. And it ends up breeding all of this really twisted stuff that it's like the exact opposite of what we're trying to create. I think a lot in this verse about the distinction in ancient astrology between the Sun and Saturn. The sun is the representation of all that is noble and ideal; like everything that is golden, the pure sunlight, the pure goodness, and life-giving eternal divine qualities are all associated with the sun archetypically.
But we can also become, we can get like gold fever, you've heard me talk about this and other planetary talks. And, you know, once we get the gold fever, then we're obsessed with the image of those things. And the difference is, you know, a little bit like, rather than walking in the sunlight, we're standing in pointing at the sun. And rather than just bathing and seeing by means of the light, we're pointing at a sunbeam. And Saturn was the ruler of feigned appearances. The opposite of the sun's rulership of Leo was Saturn's rulership of Aquarius, and also the sun's exultation in Aries was pitted against Saturn's exaltation, and Libra, the opposite sign.
Saturn was said to be the ruler of feigned appearances. It's the shadow that gets cast when we become enamored by good, true, pure, beautiful things; we become we idolize them instead of just living in them with a kind of innocence, a kind of simplicity, a kind of purity. We become captured by them, we idolize them, and it is possible to be captured even by all of the things that we think of as most pure, true, good, innocent, and righteous. Ancient astrologers in the very system of astrology in the way that they allow aberrated the opposition between the sun's sign and Saturn sign said exactly what the Tao Te Ching is saying in this verse.
Let's go on to verse 20.
The difference between a formal yes and a casual Yeah, how slight. The difference between knowing the truth and not knowing it, how great must I fear what others fear? Should I fear desolation when there is abundance? Should I fear darkness when that light is shining everywhere? Nonsense. The people of this world are steeped in their merrymaking as if gorging at a great feast or watching the sights of springtime; I sit without a sign staring blank-eyed like a child. I am but a guest in this world while others rush about to get things done. I accept what is offered; my mind is like that of a full aloof to the clamor of life around me. Everyone seems so bright and alive with the sharp distinctions of the day; I appear dark and dull with the blending of differences by night. I'm drifting like an ocean floating like the high winds. Everyone is so rooted in this world that I have no place to rest my head. Indeed. I am different. I have no treasure but the Eternal Mother; I have no food but what comes from her breast.
I think of this very much like the moon's opposition to Saturn. This verse is so similar in its sort of philosophical essence, at least the way I'm reading it right now. So similar to the way that ancient astrologers compared the opposition between the moon and Saturn.
So very similar to the sun, the moon is a light a luminary opposed to Saturn, a ruler of darkness, and the lights are naturally pitted against Saturn signs. Saturn is the dumbest, most distant planet and representative of darkness, ignorance, illusion, feigned appearances, but also winter death, and what lies beyond in the realm of the invisible. Saturn is the gatekeeper between what is known and what is unknown, the mystical and the worldly. The boundary between the two, Saturn, also occupies in the ancient astrological imagination. And so I think that it is another fantastic; another way of reading this verse is exactly along the lines of the moon and its opposition to Saturn.
The moon represents this world. And this world, as if we get enamored by this world, by the things in this world, by our senses by the constant stream moving stream of images and experiences and events and feelings and thoughts and opinions and you know, joys and, and tragedies, suffering, and bliss alternating, right? This world is described by ancient astrologers like the moon in that it is a constant; it's a river that's constantly moving, with images that are constantly changing, all of which are reflections of higher things that we never really taste or can be satisfied by because they just keep moving.
And so, the spiritual life is one of finding contentment within. And when we do that, it's very easy to feel suddenly, like an alien to this world, where we start to see very much like the prisoner in Plato's cave, who, you know, sort of starts to understand the nature of the shadows being cast on the wall, by the light of the fire in the cave, he breaks free from his chains recognizes what's going on sees that everyone is enamored by, essentially, essentially what are you know, illusions or shadows on the wall, and he breaks out of the cave into the light of the day and starts to understand reality in its some kind of higher essence. Now that essence is here, too; it's here and reflected in everything that we do. So it's not that this world is bad or to be escaped or avoided. But as soon as you start to study astrology, and you start to see the archetypal reflected in the mundane, you have this appreciation for eternality, and it starts to fill your life; you start to feel like there's something you know that there's something more that's here, and you can actually start to feel a very deep level of contentment and connection, that astrology makes life like a moving meditation in that respect, but when you look at the world, and you see people that don't have this recognition, who are attached to the Wheel of Karma, the wheel of samsara, the Wheel of Fortune, all of which were associated with the moon. You can start to feel alien, other separated distant, which is all the moon, Saturn's the moon and Saturn dichotomy.
The more enamored you are by the world, the more you're you are caught up in a kind of illusion or ignorance. It's a moon Saturn dynamic. The more that you see in the world reflected that which is eternal, the more you start to feel closer to the numinous to the invisible to the Divine, but it can also make you feel set apart from others. This is a moon Saturn dichotomy. The black sheep of the family is a moon Saturn dichotomy where you just see something that others don't see, or you're attracted to things that others aren't attracted to you; you deviate somehow from the norm. And so, you end up feeling exiled. It's a moon Saturn dynamic.
I grew up with the moon and Saturn sign in the house of religion, and you know, strayed from my Christian roots, and you know when it because you know, explored probably like all of you, you know, explored shamanism and psychedelics and yoga and you know, so many different forms of religion and spirituality and largely have felt ostracized from the faith culture that I grew up in. You know, not that anyone's, there's been some people who have been really mean, but that's the moon Saturn dynamic.
Similarly, in this verse;
I am but a guest in this world; while others rush about to get things done, I accept what is offered. See, when we start studying astrology, we look at the daily transits, we reflect on their meaning, and we see their appearance. We might be going through life, just like everyone else, but we're seeing and experiencing something that very few people are, and it's really good too, therefore, have to have an astrological community.
So, as soon as we have that community, that astrological community, you know, we realize that you know, you're, you're in a community of people, many of which have had the same experience of being or feeling like a misfit or an outcast.
Everyone seems so bright and alive with the sharp distinctions of day. I appear dark and dull with the blending of differences by night.
That's a moon Saturn dynamic. See how the lights are pitted against Saturn archetypal; that's the astrology version of what this verse is teaching us.
I'm drifting like an ocean floating like the high winds. Everyone is so rooted in this world that I have no place to rest my head. Indeed, I am different.
The Saturn was the ruler of alienation, ostracization, abandonment, the feeling of difference, but also the closeness to something that other people may not see in the same way that people who feel deeply different in indigenous traditions or who are identified as different, maybe the village shaman, or maybe the village healer.
I have no treasure but the Eternal Mother; I have no food but what comes from her breast.
It's a different kind of home. It's a different feeling of home when you have this contemplative or meditative spiritual lifestyle, and astrology is one such lifestyle.
So sometimes, we can get intimidated by a text like the Tao Te Ching. And we think, oh, you know, I'm not into Taoism, or I don't really know what that has to do with me, you know. And the purpose of the series is, you know, obviously, the Tao Te Ching is a great book to read on its own, but it's also a great book for people to, to be exposed to you can see that, you know, what, what it's saying, and its essence is not very different from so much of what ancient astrology said in the very fabric of its composition, its structure, and the language, philosophically speaking, points to the exact same kinds of dynamics that those two verses speak to, especially through the opposition of the luminaries to Saturn.
So I hope that you enjoyed this, that it gives you some positive ways of thinking about the planets and some useful insights. To me, one of the reasons we need astrology as a daily spiritual practice, probably paired with any kind of meditative practice or anything that gets you into a meditative flow, is because by doing so, when you pair those things together, there is a very deep sense of appreciation and contentment and happiness despite the fact that you can't really hold on to anything that's happening. You start feeling like, and I'm okay with that. So, anyway, those are my insights for today. I hope that you again got something positive out of this. We will see you again tomorrow for more content. All right. Take it easy, everyone. Bye.