Tao Te Ching —
The Classic about Ways And Instances
(Translated, with comments, by William P. Coleman)
Heaven is eternal, and earth endures.
About heaven and earth:
the reason they can be eternal and enduring
is they don’t live detached in themselves — and so they live forever.
a sage puts his self in the background — and his self is out front;
he rejects his self — and his self survives.
Isn’t it because he has no personal business
that he’s able to accomplish his personal business?
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When I trained in Aikido, our sensei never let us refer to the person we were training with as our “opponent.” He or she was always our “partner.”
It wasn’t just a matter of terminology — it was a basic state of mind. If you join with an attacker to become a single entity together, then the inherent forces of the universe will work themselves out through you both — in the action you go through. To exactly the extent and in exactly the way there was injustice on the attacker’s part, the balance will be restored. But, if you take it upon yourself unilaterally to become the avenging angel, you will lose — even when you’re right. This is not a matter of theory or conjecture: it’s re-proven in practice in Aikido dojos around the world every day.
I’ve found it works equally in Tai Chi, pushing hands.
For comparison, I’m including the translation by Lin Yutang, which I always love and respect, even when I disagree:
7. Living for Others
The universe is everlasting.
The reason the universe is everlasting
Is that it does not life for Self.
Therefore it can long endure.
Therefore the Sage puts himself last,
And finds himself in the foremost place;
Regards his body as accidental,
And his body is thereby preserved.
Is it not because he does not live for Self
That his Self is realized?