Between birth and death,Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, Chapter 50
Three in ten are following life,
Three in ten are following death,
And men just passing from birth to death also number three in ten.
Why is this so?
Because they live their lives on the gross level.
He who knows how to live can walk abroad
without fear of rhinoceros or tiger.
He will not be wounded in battle.
For in him rhinoceroses can find no place to thrust their horn,
Tigers can find no place to use their claws,
And weapons have no place to pierce.
Why is this so?
Because he has no place for death to enter.
Interpretation & Analysis
In this verse there are 2 parts.
In the first part he is doing a clever mathematics, he is dividing all human beings into 3 tenths and each tenth into three thirds.
One third is lost because all their lives are just following lives, they are sheep in a herd.
The second third is the same, only their life is following death through series of illnesses and misfortunes, in which case they miss the vigor of life.
The last third are people who are passing from birth to death – just because they are alive.
In the first part, according to Lao Tzu three thirds of humanity are wasting their life in 3 different ways which are essentially the same.
Now, in quick calculation it leaves us about one percent of people whose life is not wasted.
And here starts the second part that deals only with the rare one percent, which he calls: He who knows how to live. This kind of a sentence I call: a reversal point. Very mysterious. Here he goes to series of analogies of danger from the jungle (the rhinoceros and the tiger).
He says that those predators and weapons in general – have no place to pierce him.
And then he sets out to extend: It is from the same reason that death has no place to enter in him, which gets even more mysterious…
Well of course earthly weapons and earthly death would enter and they do it all the time, so to what kind of analogical weapons and death he is referring to, that could be blocked by not having space for them?
He is referring to emotional wounds and to abandonment of a loved one (a little death).
So, “He who knows how to live”– has no space in him for the crisis of abandonment and of emotional wounds.
There are many books and seminars on the subject of knowing how to live, but, what does he mean by knowing how to live?
According to Lao Tzu the one who knows how to live is a Master.
One example is of being a master chef; the more you are a master in the kitchen – the more rules you must observe about cooking; what goes with what and what does not go with what. Which part of the chicken belongs to this kind of a dish and which part doesn’t. New cooks know and master much less rules. Knowing how to be on a high level, and full blooded in it means mainly, knowing to the largest extent the rules of what is right in your field and what is wrong, the same with living one’s life; you have to master the rules of do’s and don’ts; of doing the right things and not doing the wrong ones:
1. Don’t take anything personally.
2. Crush any self-guilt.
3. Crush any self-doubt.
4. Disobey public opinion.
5. Rebel against Social Norms.
6. Stay away from aggression and rudeness.
7. Never respect any holy cows.
8. Don’t identify (get lost in anything or anyone) always be connected to your inner voice and to what it is telling you.
9. Have compassion and human warmth to any living creature in distress.
1. Have compassion for those in crisis.
2. Think for yourself.
4. Let nothing disturb your inner peace.
5. When having an empty talk, remember inside the deep talk.
6. Always strive for a Socratic dialogue.
7. Always protect the highly sensitive.
8. Always cherish the unconditioned love.
9. Always use and cultivate a good friend.
10. Make sure that your worst is not too far and down below your best.
11. Always prefer a fruitful dialogue over the deepest meditation.
12. Accept yourself, mostly your weaknesses.
Living by those 21 inner “will have and won’t have areas“ you will know how to live.