Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Shadow of Greatness

Lao Tzu, the author of the classic, Tao Te Ching, did not title the eighty-one chapters, or episodes, of his book.  Norman Rockwell, like Lao Tzu, didn't title his paintings.  

If Norman Rockwell, had titled his paintings, he might have called this one, "security guard," or "night in the museum," or "protecting the past," or... well you get the idea.

By the same token, if Lao Tzu had titled the eighty-one passages of the the Tao Te Ching, he might have called episode sixty-four, "The Shadow of Greatness."  

From The Tao of Power, my favorite translation of the work, the second stanza reads:

A tree of many arm spans is produced from a tiny sprout.
A tower of nine stories is raised from a pile of earth.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a footstep.

He goes on, in episode sixty-four to say:

People often spoil their work at the point of its completion.
With care at the end as well as the beginning,
No work will be spoiled.

Thus Evolved Individuals desire to be desireless
       And do not treasure goods that are hard to get.
They learn without learning,
    By returning to the place where the Collective Mind passes.
In this way they assist All Things naturally
    Without venturing to act.

My take on this classic teaching is:  Stay centered, follow your heart, do only that which you know is yours to do, and everyone and everything will benefit from your passing.

The shadow of greatness passes across the land when it is cast by one who understands the source of the light.

Tomorrow I will post the twentieth in the Norman Rockwell inspired blog series.  I call it great women and I'll use this Rockwell painting  to illustrate it:


  1. Wonderful advice for us all!! Great post, Bama!!

  2. I have taken enough steps to go a thousand miles, but every time I look up, there are still a thousand miles left to go.

    1. Caleb,
      i hate to take advantage of my seniority here, but I will, and let you know that the journey never ends. But, it's a fun trip.