July 3rd, 2010

Chapter 50

To live or to die:
Three out of ten men live,
While three out of ten men die.
Further, three out of ten men cling to life,
But they lose it.
Why?  Because they all crave life
He who knows how to safeguard his life
Does not encounter tigers or rhinoceroses.
In the battlefield,
He does not avoid dangerous weapons.
Rhinoceroses cannot gore him.
Tigers cannot claw him.
Dangerous weapons cannot harm him.
Why?  Because there is no place in him for death.

                                  Translated by Chang Chung-yuan, 1975.


Between birth and death,
Three in ten are followers of life,
Three in ten are followers of death,
And men just passing from birth to death also number three in ten.
Why is this so?
Because they live their lives on the gross level.

He who knows how to live can walk abroad
Without fear of rhinoceros or tiger.
He will not be wounded in battle.
For in him rhinoceroses can find no place to thrust their horn,
Tigers no place to use their claws,
And weapons no place to pierce.
Why is this so?
Because he has no place for death to enter.
People who look
for the secret of long life
wind up dead.

Their bodies are the focus of their lives
and the source of their death,
because they think a healthy body
is all there is to life.

Lao Tzu used to say
a man who truly understood life
could walk through the jungle
without fear
or across a battlefield
without armor, totally unarmed.
Wild animals and weapons couldn't kill him.

I know, I know:
what the hell does that mean?
"Well, he couldn't be killed,"
Lao Tzu said,
"because his body
wasn't where he kept his death."

The first version is from the Fortune files. The second version is the Beatrice Tao.