54.1 Good construction does not fall down,
a good embrace does not let go;
their heirs honor them unceasingly.
54.2 Cultivate it in yourself, and that virtue is real;
cultivate it in the home, and that virtue is abundant;
cultivate it in the locality, and that virtue lasts;
cultivate it in the nation, and that virtue is rich;
cultivate it in the world, and that virtue is universal.
54.3 So observe yourself by yourself,
observe the home by the home,
observe the locality by the locality,
observe the nation by the nation,
observe the world by the world.
54.4 How do I know the world is as it is?
Tao Teh Ching - Cleary Translation
Good construction does not fall down, but it can be knocked over.
A good embrace is only good when welcomed, otherwise it is a stranglehold.
But we should honor unceasingly what is good within what is,
and honor what is not good that it might be better.
The "its" in line 3 perhaps refer to "virtue," but if so, it is the Virtue of the Way, spontaneous virtue, "subliminal virtue" as described in chapter 55, not what i take to be virtue because of my cultural conditioning. Probably "it" refers to Tao. How do i cultivate Tao? By following the instructions of those who know how to live and act, the Masters who have left clear instructions in various places, including the TTC.
How do i observe my self by myself, etc. "observe" is sometimes translated at "contemplate" Contemplation is silent meditation, it is silent prayer, it is silence. All things are microcosms of the Tao, the Tao is manifest in all things. By contemplating myself i learn what self is, by contemplating my family i learn what family is, by contemplating my community i learn what community is, by contemplating my world i learn what a world is. By contemplating my universe i learn what a universe is. Of course, i will never learn what the Tao is -- only what it bids me do.
Here is how Bynner said it:
....And thus the fitness of one man
You find in the family he began,
You find in the village that accrued,
You find in the country that ensued,
You find in the world's whole multitude;
How do i know this integrity?
Because it could all begin in me.
Yes, if it must, let it begin in me. But of course, it has already begun. Every thing we need is already here, we only need to re-recognize it. The great teachers know, i must listen to them. My body knows, i must listen to it. My heart knows, i must learn to trust it.
Prayer: Holy Loving, Teach me compassion, moderation, and humility. Amen