Sound and Silence

when necessary, use words


April 2012

Parallel sayings – storing and hoarding

[Matthew 6:19, TNIV]
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

[Tao Te Ching 44, Ursula Le Guin]
Which is nearer, name or self?
Which is dearer, self or wealth?
Which gives more pain, loss or gain?
All you grasp will be thrown away.
All you hoard will be utterly lost.

The parallel sayings are similar in exhorting us not to store up or grasp things, or become attached to reputation or power. They both point out the transience of a purely material life, and the need to develop a deeper and longer view of lifes purpose.


Parallel wisdoms – centeredness

[Tao Te Ching 8 Star]
Live in accordance with the nature of things:
Build your house on solid ground
Keep your mind still
When giving, be kind
When speaking, be truthful
When ruling, be just
When working, be one-pointed
When acting, remember –  timing is everything

[Tao Te Ching 8 Mitchell]
In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

[Matthew 7: 24 NIV]
Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

[Ephesians 4: 22 NIV]
… be made new in the attitude of your minds … speak truthfully to your neighbour … doing something useful with your [their] own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.


All these scriptures relate to centeredness: stillness, simplicity and solidity. The idiom of building on the solid is virtually identical, despite the extensive cultural differences between the New Testament and the Tao Te Ching (5th Century BCE China).

One point of difference is that the Tao (in Jonathan Star’s rendering at least) manages to communicate quite some humour, whether intentionally or via translation, I am not sure.


Parallel Wisdoms – Love

[1 Cor 13 NIV]
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

[Tao Te Ching 67 Mitchell]
I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.

Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

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