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Gan), was a grandson of the Emperor Kao Ti (or Kao Tsu), the founder of the Han Dynasty, who ascended the throne in 206 B.C. and died in 195 B.C. The father of Huai-Nan-Tzu was prince Li and his mother a lady of the court of the prince of Chao. The date of his birth is not known, but he is said to have died in 122 B.C. Huai-Nan-Tzu, although of royal lineage, preferred to devote his life to scholarship and spiritual philosophy rather than to the occupations of a courtier, and gradually he gathered about him a group of the most profound exponents of Taoism and men of kindred interests. He was a man of exceptional ability, with a widely extended mental horizon and a deeply religious reverence for all that is Divine. The Eight Sages, who are said to have been his companions, teachers and collaborators, were especially venerated for their holiness and wisdom. In some accounts they are identified with the Eight Taoist Immortals. ORIGINAL INSTRUCTIONS IN TAO (The History of Great Light) PART 1 THE TAO AND ITS MANIFESTATIONS TAO is that which encompasses the Universe and gives it dimension. Its height cannot be measured nor its depths fathomed. It made visible what at first had no form. Flowing like a fountain, its energies penetrated the void and filled space. By ceaselessly flowing, it transformed murky chaos into crystal clearness. TAO is that which penetrates the Universe and touches every part of it. It cannot be exhausted; it knows neither exuberance nor decay. If it could be opened out it would fill the entire Universe; if it could be gathered together, it would not even fill a child's hand. Though it can be contracted, it can also be expanded; though it is obscure, it can become clear; though it is weak, it can become strong; though it is soft, it can become hard. TAO contains the balance of the masculine and the feminine, it contains the balance of the light and the dark; it holds together the Universe and Time, and supplies the great with inspiration. It is so tenuous and subtle that it pervades everything like water soaked earth. It is by TAO that mountains are high, and abysses deep; that beasts walk and birds fly; that the sun and moon are bright, and the stars revolve in their courses. All mysteries arise from it, and are resolved by it. When the wise obtain the power inherent in TAO, and are established in the center, they walk with the highest spiritual beings and all the Universe is at peace. THE PERMEATION OF TAO It is through TAO that the stars and the earth move, that processes of change go on without end, and that water flows without stopping; for TAO is the beginning
and so on. The operations of TAO are mysterious. It rises and falls with the masculine and the feminine. nor is the wife a widow. Those who do not interfere and leave nothing undone are in harmony with TAO. with the light and with the dark. and permeates stone and metal. transforms and fashions all things. All things are in accordance with their various natures. Because of TAO fathers do not mourn the untimely death of their children. those who speak with care understand power. nor as the power which completes. Through its powers embryos mature and creatures are born. they render it no praise. and it will not become shallow. Add to it and it does not increase. The rising of wind. When they accumulate and store up riches. nor when they distribute or scatter it. and they await the operation of the same principle before they die. The energy of TAO operates in the smallest thing and yet compels the mighty universe. they may not reproach it. is it to be considered any impoverishment. those who know tranquillity and are content. Indistinct and shadowy. giving to one rich and glossy fur. fly or crawl. and it will not be found deep. because of the harmonious nature of TAO. the fall of rain. it has no form. it never acts in vain. it enriches vegetation with moisture. nor destructive comets cross the sky. to another abundant plumage. Penetrating and pervasive. The misplaced rainbow will never appear. and it will not be injured. If it is overthrown.and end of all creation. so when they misuse it and bring disaster upon themselves. both living and not living. the young are not left as orphans. Fill it. without feeling any resentment. In the natural succession of change. are in possession of harmony. Subtle and intangible. TAO exists everywhere. and afterwards dissolve again into their pristine elements. The benign and gentle breath of TAO cherishes all things. Things which walk. even though they live in the midst of a myriad diversities. Cut it. whose wheel forever goes round and round. await the operation of TAO before they come into being. Dig into it. creations are finished and polished. it cannot be overlooked. this may not be considered an increase of their true wealth. yet it cannot be sought out. Plane it and it does not become thin. are as they should be. so too the rolling of thunder. nor does the elder brother that of his younger brother. devoid of conceit. the light and the dark. its resources have no limit. without end. it causes the growth of all creatures. it will not be high. When people derive benefit from TAO. It bends and straightens with the hard and the soft. Shadowy and indistinct. without recognizing the power to which they owe existence. . THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF TAO TAO at its most sublime does not regard itself as the author of Creation. it forms the four seasons and brings the elements of nature into accord. If it is piled up. Hidden and obscure. breathe. Deduct from it and it will not be reduced. They resemble the actions of the potter. Its power molds the universe and harmonizes the masculine and feminine. it will not be low. the gathering of clouds. it reinforces all things from the formless.
The natural quiescence of the nature with which people are born is implanted by the Universal power. they may be directed by a comprehension of the course they naturally take. they reflect it as square or round. moving slowly or quickly as they wish. and thunder provides a path where there was none. may obscure their real nature. the TAO is almost extinguished in them. crooked or straight. TAO is always ready to respond to those who seek it. they are always content. A wise person does not need to hear sounds or see forms. because of their perfect tranquillity. Though they undergo variations outwardly in common with everything else. the mystical path leads them to know the TAO. Even though the affairs of the world are not easily administered.PART 2 IDEAL PERSONS OF TAO When the ideal person of TAO walks upon frost or snow they leave no footprints. although the transitions of the visible Universe baffle investigation. As soon as a person's desires and aversions are aroused. the influences which affect people and excite them subsequently. and so they are enabled to travel through Infinity. Perfectly free and knowing no restraints. if they are unable to revert to their true self. as the case may be. Wise and balanced people of TAO are always tranquil and without desiring. yet. great and small. the four seasons give them power. they revert to their foundation. Above they roam through the vastness of space. In like manner does the heart of a wise person naturally reflect the principles of TAO. The Sky is their canopy. below they pass through the Gate of Boundlessness. and have no cares. their fullness of spirit remains unchanged and is not unsettled by these wanderings. THE SERENITY OF THOSE WHO DWELL IN TAO Those who come after these ideal people are unable to emulate them. Their many spiritual achievements appear magical and mysterious to the common mind. the Earth is their vehicle. inwardly they never lose their inherent actuality. If a person is identified with TAO. no matter how hard they try. lightning serves to drive them when lagging. even in the midst of silence. on their return. When a person responds to the calls made upon them by natural concerns. it apportions the world naturally and for everything. when the sun shines upon them they cast no shadow. They are this way because they have a firm grasp of TAO. that implies an excitation of the mind. QUIESCIENCE IN TAO When a mirror and water are brought close to an object. they become the subject of desires and aversions. Utterly non-existent. for they are conscious of both. due provision is made. They cause the rain to sprinkle moisture on the roads and the wind to sweep the dust. and when their faculties are bought into contact with externals. Those who are perfectly centered in TAO do not permit any change through an external agency to take place in their nature. There is nothing that does not pass before their vision in their travels. long and short. they . their mind is enticed into action by external objects. all prancing and rearing in excitement and utter confusion. and the people call them gods. although a myriad things present themselves before them. Although everything within the four corners of the Universe is under their control. they may yet be understood by knowing their actual origin and destiny. they advance through the Empyrean.
Such people.are powerless to disturb them. and the depraved stand in awe of them. do not bring their weight heavily to bear upon the people at large. . when in positions of prominence and authority. since they do not oppose the world. Fine people come to them for protection. nor do they injure them. the world does not dare to content with them.
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