Dao de Jing: The Book of the Way

By Laozi; Moss Roberts | Go to book overview
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STANZA 55
1. Who holds within the fullest power
2. To a newborn may compare,
3. Which no insect stings,
4. No wild beast seizes,
5. No taloned bird snatches.
6. Though soft-boned and weak-limbed, its grip is firm.
7. Before it ever knows of intercourse,
8. Its standing phallus shows its full life force. 1
9. It cries all day without a loss of voice, 2
10. A sign of its perfect balance.
11. Knowing balance means constant norm; 3
12. Knowing the norm means inner vision;
13. Enhancing life means good fortune;
14. Mind controlling spirit means inner strength.
15. “Beware old age in pride of manly might,
16. For that means working against the Way.
17. “Work against the Way, die before your day.

COMMENT Regarding lines 1–5 Wang Bi comments: “Having no demand nor desire, the infant does not provoke any of the ten thousand creatures. Su Che adds: “Being formless, Dao cannot be seen, much less harmed by anything. Men come to manifest themselves when the mind develops. After intention comes form; after form comes opposition and enmity. Indifferent in its lack of desire, the infant's physique is at its perfection. When an external object presents itself, it lacks the consciousness to respond. 4

In his chapter “Kengsang Chu” (name of a purported disciple of Laozi) Zhuangzi elaborates on the virtue of the infant: “The baby howls yet never gets hoarse makes fists… yet its

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