Introduction

Chapter 38 set a steep grade for my understanding. It’s appropriate that VIRTUE appears in six of the first eight lines, since Chapter 38 begins the TE section of the 44 chapters of the Tao TE Ching. Perusing these seven lines, I discern that VIRTUE can be thought of an unrefined or native compound found only in humans. It may be measured on a linear scale from High to Low. If this unrefined compound, VIRTUE, can be raised High enough, then the undesired elements, mainly the polluting “virtuous” (gaseous in its natural state), vaporizes. This leaves the pure, desired element known as virtue or DE.  However, if VIRTUE remains impure, it, no matter the rating, is considered Low and the value of any residual VIRTUE is lost entirely. High VIRTUE never learns the actions of contrivance or agenda which Low VIRTUE always practices due to the vacuous state left by its devolution…the loss of substance – virtue (DE). I hope this helps. Derek Lin, in his commentary, never really explains how real virtue is either found or lost. Is it given or taken? Taught or thought? In the genes or in the generation. Because life is short, I would say it is better to be motivated and benevolent (comment 2) than inert with only pure virtue. Righteousness seems to be benevolence with a name tag…I never thought of those two terms as being practically related. Wow, etiquette AND use of arms (comment three) …I guess I went to an unaccredited charm school or perhaps those unprincipled principals just “social promotioned” me up and out.  Comment four, speaks to us of flowers and fruits and metaphors. Are you mostly scent or substantially substance? Inquiring minds want to know. In DL’s fifth and last comment, he seems to reveal that we all have or can possess etiquette and knowledge, but we should reach higher. First benevolence, next virtue (DE, the pure kind) and, finally Tao…the road less traveled. Wayne Dyer’s translation required that he repeat the translation pieces of his authors (Star and Mitchell) in order to lend a cohesive feel to the couplets describing the highs and lows and contrivances (in WD’s case good and foolish; master and ordinary; acting with and without). It was hard to do a comparison to Derek Lin because the Stephen Mitchell translation he used skipped a beat (see  Derek Lin Terms vs Wayne Dyer et al Terms). In my duplication of Wayne Dyer’s commentary on 38, I added Text Boxes to highlight certain of Wayne’s brain droppings. Mr. Dyer finishes with a snippet of poetry, A Rabbit Noticed My Condition, from one of his favorites, St. John of the Cross. The condition SJOTC’s condition was in concluded that, “creatures…are full of knowing”. I immediately thought to myself, “What they know I have no idea.” Having rescued, extricated and buried my own “creatures” who knew only how to  enter dire straits without an exit plan, I had to ponder whether St. John’s and W. Dyer’s mythical rabbits (dogs, butterflies, moths, spiders, ants, fish, cats and dear deer) were blessed with the high virtue and mine cursed with only the garden variety kind. After my Translations and Comparisons sections, I placed the  Beyond Translations and Comparisons, which includes the recurring Etymology look but also Derek Lin’s snippet on bad translations. Lin quoted Theodore Sturgeon, of whom I was in the dark. He seemed like a fun guy, so I went the extra mile and included additional quotes for this once mushrooming science fiction writer in the END NOTES.

Afterword

So, what do you think? Will the Te (DE) section of the Tao Te Ching be less simplistic and more cryptic than the road past traveled (Tao, chapters 1-37)? No da. From Derek Lin’s attempts to straighten chapter 38 out to Wayne Dyer’s insistence on keeping it unreal, we’re just getting started. From the etymology on chapter 38, I gather that the script keepers had their inky hands full literally depicting such concepts as virtue, benevolence, righteousness, etiquette and the ever elusive justice. When put in the hands clergy or scholar or shaman chief, these confounding ideas reveal themselves in cloaks of many colors in the ideas of us beholders. So sayeth, Theodore Sturgeon, from the depths.