42.1 The Way produces one;
one produces two,
two produce three,
three produce all beings:
42.2 all beings bear yin and embrace yang,
with a mellowing energy for harmony.
42.3 The things people dislike are only to be alone, lacking, and unworthy;
yet these are what monarchs call themselves.
42.4 Therefore people may gain from loss, and may lose from gain.
42.5 What others teach, I also teach.
The strong cannot master their death:
I take this to be the father of teachings.
Tao Teh Ching - Cleary Translation
I am tempted to address line one logically and logistically.
This is a temptation i should not give into, but i do.
On the material plane The Way's production of something from nothing is miraculous.
One producing two is also strange until we reach the biological level.
Cells split to become sisters which are and are not their mother.
All these cells are identical, thus not requiting names,
until mutation, another mysterious force, intervenes.
This allows for two "things" or three, or more.
Once there are three, the number of things that can be named becomes theoretically infinite.
No one knows where it will stop.
Will it grow until it kills its host?
The other lines urge logic and reason as well.
I know proper meditation on sacred writing requires an elevated mind.
But then there is argument about whether TTC is a "sacred" text.
Being "along, lacking. and unworthy' is embraced by what is "noble" within us.
Moderation and humility are two of the big three Taoist virtues.
Here compassion is replaced by solitude (interesting but prompting no insight for me.
Perhaps compassion less readily connotes "loss" than being alone does.)
Line 5 seems to be a throw away line, unrelated to the rest of the text.
Bur i have to assume that it is the most important line "the root of my teaching,"
and that it follows from what came before.
"The strong cannot master their death," is sometimes rendered as:
"A violent man will die a violent death."
Jesus allegedly said: "Those who live by the sword will die by the sword."
These would have been the antepenultimate words delivered to his disciples as a group before his death.
To reinforce this message, he healed the one of his captors who was wounded by his defenders.
All this suggests that the words, "the strong cannot master their death" has a deeper meaning in which i must focus on the word "strong" rather than the word "death." We are all going to die, sooner or later. We are not required to kill or abet killing except to feed ourselves and small children. (Remember, even plants are sentient beings.)
Hindu scripture insists that the slayer does not slay, nor is the slain slain. This doesn't quite work for me. It speaks to the victim but is absolutely lousy advise for potential perpetrators. It may be something good for us who are relatively "safe" to ponder. ("Safe" means that i am not dangerous to others nor in danger from them. i am only safe if i carry my life somewhere that it cannot be threatened or have already turned it over to the Higher Power ).
Simone Weil quoted Jesus and then added: "and those who do not live by the sword will die on the cross." Which means that those who follow Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. must be very spiritual or very brave. "If blood must be shed, let it be our blood,"--MLKjr,
How does the person who "is not strong" master death? Death is mastered when "our bodies are no longer where we keep our lives." This Taoist saying is given added significance by words attributed to Jesus: "He who gives up his life for My Sake will save it.' I must ask what "my sake," and "save it" .mean. My means God's and it means others' Save it means gives it meaning.
The sword was the weapon of choice or necessity in Jesus' day. To carry a sword was to "bear arms" In the countdown to the Roman Wars, i imagine that a lot of people were bearing arms. If legend is correct, at least one of Jesus apostles was armed during the Seder meal. I wonder how Jesus would have felt about the idea that the second amendment is more important than the first. (I don't really wonder, i think i know. Jesus did not carry a weapon nor did he include a weapon among the things he told his disciples (followers) to carry.) People today suppose that our situation is different, it isn't.
Holy Loving: Only when my life is safe with you is it truly safe. Whatever else i do makes little or no difference. If i am made an agent of Your peace i will not fear; as an agent of Your love, i will not hate, as an agent of Your benevolence i will lack nothing Amen