VERSE 54 Tao Te Ching

In verse 51 The Tao Te Ching tells us that “Tao give all things life” and “Te
gives all things fulfillment”. And some translations the word nourishes is used. This is about Tao and Te and their relationship to our lives.

Te translated to English is Virtue or power.  Lao Tzu tells calls it fulfilment in Verse 51. We can use whatever word we like or fits best where Teh is used… I think Virtue and Fulfillment work in this verse.


Strong Roots

“The thing that is well planted is
not easily uprooted.
The thing that is well guarded is not easily taken away.

If one has sons and grandsons,
the offering of ancestral worship will not soon cease”(1)

You can think the thing that is well planted is our way of thinking, our truth, and
our virtues.  I am using virtue as we
understand in our culture. Our truths are deeply rooted strongly in mind.  It becomes very difficult for others to change .our mind when our truth is deeply rooted.  Our children and grandchildren and their grandchildren will continue to praise us for living our truth.

Taoist scholar TS’AO TAO-CH’UNG says, “First improve yourself, then reach out to others and to later generations bequeath the noble, pure, and kindly Tao. Thus, blessings reach your descendants, virtue grows, beauty lasts, and worship never

Teh is Universal

“He who practices Tao in his person
shows that his teh is real.
he family that practices it shows that their teh is abounding.

The township that practices it shows that their teh is enduring.
The state that practices it shows that their teh is prolific.
The empire that practices it reveals that teh is universal.(1)

Each person can have their understanding of Teh.   In
chapter 51 it says Teh is fulfillment and we commonly say Teh is virtue or power.  Translations use different words to describe practices in this verse such as “cultivate virtue”, “cultivate Tao”.  This verse says that if you practice Tao then Teh is real, abounding, enduring, prolific and universal.  We can substitute   fulfillment, power, or virtue for Teh, in this verse and the meaning is still proper.

The meaning of practices is our individual way we practice Tao. I like the “practice of eternal light” that I write about on my blog on Verse 52.

This stanza was explained quite well in 159 B.C Taoist master HO-SHANG KUNG(2) who says, “We cultivate the Tao in ourselves by cherishing our breath and by nourishing our spirit and thus
by prolonging our life. We cultivate the Tao in our family by being loving as a parent, filial as a child, kind as an elder, obedient as the younger, dependable as a husband, and chaste as a wife. We cultivate the Tao in our village by honoring the aged and caring for the young, by teaching the benighted and instructing the perverse. We cultivate the Tao in our state by being honest as an official and loyal as an aide. We cultivate the Tao in the world by letting things change without giving orders.

The one and the many

“Thereby one person becomes a test
of other persons,
one family of other families,

one town of other towns,
ne county of other counties,

and one empire of all empires”(1)

The word “test” is from the Chinese character (kaun) can mean viewed, judge, consider, examine, or lookout. I believe the translator chose the wrong
meaning.  Because it seems to be saying
one person is the test for how others should be or my family is the test of other families and so on.  This does not sound like Lau Tzu.  I think he meant consider.  When using consider
is used it would read:

One person considers other persons
One family of other families

This leaves the message that we should be considerate at all levels of life. 

”How do I know that this test is

By this same Tao(1)


HO-SHANG KUNG says,Lao-tzu asks how we know that those who cultivate the Tao prosper and
those who ignore the Tao perish. We know by comparing those who don’t cultivate
the Tao with those who do.”


(1) and Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths in 2006.

(2) HO-SHANG KUNG /HESHANG GONG / (D. CA. 159 B.C.). Taoist master who lived in a hut beside the
Yellow River — hence his name, which means Master Riverside. His commentary emphasizes Taoist yoga and was reportedly composed at the request of Emperor
Wen (r. 179– 156 B.C.). It ranks next to Wang Pi’s in popularity



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