Tao-Te-Ching 虚用 (The Presence of Formlessness s. 5)

Tao-Te-Ching 虚用 (The Presence of Formlessness s. 5)
Song dynasty era (960-1270) Stone Statue of Lao Tsu/Tzu Ji in the base of Mount Quinyuan in Fujian, China

ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ
This is section #5 out of 83
(Please see previous sections here before reading this section:
You will be confused if you start directly here without previous context)

Maya (Manifesting Energy 天地 incl. Heavens & Earth)
is detached (不仁 ) because (以) the creation (万物 multitude of material) is treated as (为) temporary (刍狗 lit. straw dogs, used as ceremonial objects in Puratan China)
The Saints (圣人) are detached (不仁 ) because (以) society (百姓 lit. hundreds of families) are treated as (为) temporary (刍狗)
Lao Tsu Ji introduces the intricate topic of detachment. Lao Tsu Ji refer to Maya and Saints both being detached but for two different reasons.
Maya/Manifesting Energy does not act in a way which is good or bad. Maya only has the capability to hide reality. Misperception comes to happen amidst Maya. The mind is created in a state absorbed in Maya and thus, accepts it to be reality. Maya can only be described as objectively ever-changing. Maya is detached because it acts in the whole of manifestation. It is everything we can sense. It is the Power of Akaal Purakh and Maharaj act without dependence on their manifestation.
Imagine as if a village was asking for a lot of rain because their crops were suffering. The rain came pouring and then the villagers thanked the angels, devtay, or other gods/deities, etc. That same rain came and flooded the next town over, those townspeople say it was the work of asura, rakhsha, demons, bad spirits. The same rain and two outcomes. This Maya can be perceived as one or the other but it is indifferent. The individual self (ego) perceives good or bad in relation to itself.
Dhan Dhan Guru Amardas Ji Maharaj explain to us how the nature of Maya fools us. From Maya, we perceive separation and multitudes of existence.
From this misperception we develop ego, from which pleasure and pain are felt:

ਮਾਇਆ ਕਿਸ ਨੋ ਆਖੀਐ; ਕਿਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ॥
Maaeiaa Kis No Aakheeai Kiaa Maaeiaa Karam Kamaaei
What should we call Maya? What actions does Maya do?
ਦੁਖਿ ਸੁਖਿ ਏਹੁ ਜੀਉ ਬਧੁ ਹੈ; ਹਉਮੈ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ॥
Dhukh[i] Sukh[i] Jeeo[u] Badhh[u] Hai; Houmai Karam Kamaaei
The Separate Soul is bound by Pain and Pleasure; due to perceiving Haumai (individual self) it develops individualized actions.
(Raag Aasaa, Ang 66)

Bhagat Kabir Ji explains how the agiaani (not yet receiving understanding of reality) interacts with Maya:

ਸਕਤਿ ਅਧੇਰ ਜੇਵੜੀ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਚੂਕਾ...
Sakath[i] Adhhaer Jaevarhhee Bhram Chookaa
In the Darkness of Maya, I misperceived the rope to be a snake
(Raag Gauree, Ang 332)
ਤਿਨਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਬਾਣੈ ਧਨਖੁ ਚਢਾਈਐ; ਇਹੁ ਜਗੁ ਬੇਧਿਆ ਭਾਈ ॥
Thin[i] Bin[u] BaaNai Dhhanakh[u] ChaDhaeeai Eih[u] Jag[u]Baedhhiaa Bhaaee
Maya pulls the bow without an arrow, Oh Brother! this world gets shot.
(Raag Gauree, Ang 332)

ਸਾਹਨਿ ਸਤੁ ਕਰੈ; ਜੀਅ ਅਪਨੈ ॥
Saahan[i] Sath[u] Karai Jeea Apnai
[If you] believe the queen [Maya] to be true and think the true self is of Maya
ਸੋ ਰਮਯੇ ਕਉ; ਮਿਲੈ ਨ ਸੁਪਨੈ ॥੨॥
So Ramayae Ko[u] Milai n Supnai
then [you] will not meet Vaheguru, even in your dreams
(Raag Gauree, Ang 328)

In Sri Sukhmani Sahib, Dhan Dhan Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaj bless us with the understanding of the temporariness of the manifestation:

ਅਨਿਕ ਭਾਤਿ; ਮਾਇਆ ਕੇ ਹੇਤ ॥
Anik Bhaath[i] Maaeiaa Kae Haeth
There are many varieties of attachments to Maya
ਸਰਪਰ ਹੋਵਤ; ਜਾਨੁ ਅਨੇਤ ॥
Sarpar Hovath Jaan[u] Anaeth
Becoming without a doubt, we realize Maya is actually temporary
ਬਿਰਖ ਕੀ ਛਾਇਆ ਸਿਉ; ਰੰਗੁ ਲਾਵੈ ॥
Birakh Kee Chhaeiaa Sio[u] Ra[n]g[u] Laavai
Like the mind who falls in love with the [temporary] shade of a tree

ਓਹ ਬਿਨਸੈ; ਉਹੁ ਮਨਿ ਪਛੁਤਾਵੈ ॥
Oh Binasai O[u]h[u] Man[i] Pachh[u]thaavai
When [the tree] gets dies, that mind will regret [investing their mind and heart with the temporary]

ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ; ਸੋ ਚਾਲਨਹਾਰੁ ॥
Jo Dheesai So Chaalanhaar[u]
Whatever you see is bound to leave...
ਲਪਟਿ ਰਹਿਓ; ਤਹ ਅੰਧ ਅੰਧਾਰੁ ॥
Lapat[i] Rahio Tah A[n]dhh A[n]dhhaar
yet they are still clinging on to the temporary, they are blind in this darkness
ਬਟਾਊ ਸਿਉ; ਜੋ ਲਾਵੈ ਨੇਹ ॥
Bataaouoo Sio[u] Jo Laavai Naeh
Whoever falls in love with a traveler...
ਤਾ ਕਉ ਹਾਥਿ; ਨ ਆਵੈ ਕੇਹ ॥
Tha Ko[u] Haathh[i] n Aavai Kaeh
They will be left with empty-handed.

Likewise, the Saint is indifferent/impartial but for being able to know what Maya really is. By receiving the blessing of realizing the nature of maya, they do not misperceive from a place of individual self (ego) and thus, detached and indifferent.

Dhan Dhan Guru Ram Das Ji Maharaj explain to us about the Gurmukh who is blessed with understanding Maya:

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਾਂ ਨਦਰੀ ਆਵਦਾ; ਮਾਇਆ ਸੁਟਿ ਪਾਇਆ ॥
Gurmukhaa[n] Nadhree Aavdhaa Maaeiaa Sut[i] Paaeiaa
The Gurmukhs get the Vision of Vaheguru and have tossed Maya [aside].
(Raag Sarang, Ang 1246)

Those who have reached this state are praiseworthy and Bhagat Kabeer Ji say that they are a slave to Them:

ਮਾਇਆ ਮਹਿ; ਜਿਸੁ ਰਖੈ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥
Maaeiaa Mah[i] Jis[u] Rakhai Oudhaas[u]
While staying with Maya, whomever stays detached...
ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ; ਹਉ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਦਾਸੁ ॥੪॥੧॥
Kahi Kabeer Ho[u] Thaa Ko Dhaas[u]
Bhagat Kabeer Ji say: I am Their Slave.

Bhai Gurdas Ji explain that this state of detachment is developed in the Saadhsangat:

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸੁਖ ਫਲੁ ਸਾਧਸੰਗੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਕਰਨਿ ਉਦਾਸੀ
Gurmukh[i] Sukh Phal[u] Saadhhsa[n]g[u] A[n]dhar[i] Karan[i] Oudhaasee
Centring the mind on Guru Sahib [Gurmukhi] and going to Saadhsangat will give the Fruit of Peace, it allows one to live in this Maya while remaining detached.
ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਕਵਲੁ ਹੈ ਸੂਰਜ ਧਾਨੁ ਅਗਾਸੁ ਨਿਵਾਸੀ ।

Jio[u] Jal A[n]dhar[i] Kaval[u] Hai Sooraj Dhhaan[u] Agaas[u] Nivaasee
Just like the Lotus flower resides in the water yet keeps its focus towards the Sun that lives in the Sky!
ਚੰਦਨੁ ਸ
ੀਂ ਵੇੜਿਆ ਸੀਤਲੁ ਸਾਂਤਿ ਸੁਗੰਧਿ ਵਿਗਾਸੀ ।
Cha[n]dhan[u] Sakhee[n] Vaerhhiaa Seethal[u] Saa[n]th[i] Sugha[n]dhh[i] Vigaasee
The Sandalwood Tree is wrapped around with snakes yet it is cool, peaceful, gives off a nice smell, and blossoms!
ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਵਿਚਿ ਸਬਦ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਲਿਵ ਸਹਜਿ ਬਿਲਾਸੀ

Saadhhsa[n]gath[i] Sa[n]saar Vich[i] Sabadh Surath[i] Liv Sahaj[i] Bilaasee
Remaining in Saadhsangat while in this ever-changing manifestation – the mind is in love with, gracefully focussed on this Bliss of Vaheguru

(15th Vaar, 21st Pauree)

Bhai Gurdas Ji shows how the Saint remains detached from Maya: through Saadhsangat and Simran upon Vaheguru.

天地之间, 其犹橐蘥乎?
The Existence between (之间) Maya/Manifestation (天地 referred to as Heaven and Earth) isn’t it like (其犹) bellows? (橐蘥乎, bellows are like bags used to collect air and push into a fire or smoke out a bee hive)
Formless yet (虚而) still powerful (不屈, not lacking),

It moves (动) and (而) keeps producing more (愈出) [from nothing].
Now that Maya has been discussed, what about Vaheguru residing within and outside of Maya? In the last sections, we introduced Nirgun-Vaheguru (Formless).
How does Vaheguru exist within Maya? Lao Tsu Ji refer to Nirgun-Vaheguru as being an emptiness but not in a way which is lacking. Why emptiness? It is not an emptiness which we would usually interpret but it hints at Vaheguru not being physical. Everything we know in this world is physical manifestation. We spoke about Nirgun Vaheguru being before creation. We do not and cannot know what Nirgun is through our means of understanding this physical world. Thus, emptiness is the closest way to explain this as it refers to the opposite of material. This emptiness does not have a negative context because Lao Tsu Ji refer to it as not lacking. Akin to a bellow – although a bellow is an empty vaccuum – it is filled with strong forces of air... it keeps giving fuel to smoke for a beekeeper and to fan the flame of a blacksmith. Nirgun Vaheguru is a strong force that pervades everything although the Formless is not sensed through the 5 senses.
It seems like a complicated topic but Gurbani explains it better:

ਸੁੰਨ ਕਲਾ ਅਪਰੰਪਰਿ ਧਾਰੀ ॥
Su[n]n Kalaa Apara[m]par[i] Dhhaaree
In the State of Sunn (Void), the creative energy was independently wielded
ਆਪਿ ਨਿਰਾਲਮੁ ਅਪਰ ਅਪਾਰੀ ॥

Aap[i] Niraalam[u] Apar Apaaree
Vaheguru Themself are Worldless, the First, the Unreachable
ਆਪੇ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਦੇਖੈ; ਸੁੰਨਹੁ ਸੁੰਨੁ ਉਪਾਇਦਾ ॥੧॥

Aapae Kudhrath[i] Kar[i] Kar[i] Dhaekhai Su[n]nah[u] Su[n]n Oupaeidhaa
Vaheguru Themself uses the Creative Energy and witness to it all, The Void was created from a Void
(Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Raag Maaroo, Ang 1037)

ਪੰਚਮਿ ਵਿਚਿ ਆਕਾਸ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਤਾ ਛਟਮੁ ਅਦਿਸਟੁ ਸਮਾਈ ।
Pa[n]cham[i] Vich[i] Aakaas Kar[i] Karthaa Chhatam[u] Adhist[u] Samaaee
Aakaas (Ether) was made to be the 5th Element, Vaheguru themselves are the Invisible 6th Element woven into all of the 5 elements
(Bhai Gurdas Ji)

Daas really wants to emphasize that these states of Manifestation and Formlessness are not separate from each other yet even being in a state of duality is Maharaj's Hukam:

ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ ਆਕਾਰੁ ਹੈ ਆਪੇ; ਆਪੇ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਏ ॥
Nira[n]kaar[u] Aakaar[u] Hai Aapae Aapae Bharam[i] Bhulaae
The Formless and the Form is Vaheguru – Themself, Vaheguru Themself puts us into delusion

(Guru Amardas Ji, Raag Malaar, Ang 1257)

多言数穷, 不如守中。
We can speculate a lot (多言) but it’s not possible to objectively understand (数穷)
[It’s] not as if (不如) the essence is observable (守中).
Lao Tsu Ji speak about this Nirgun-Vaheguru as not measurable in the mind’s capacity. We can keep speaking and speaking about this but not reach a conclusion. How do we measure that which is immaterial? The only thing we can do is stop trying to mentally compartmentalize Vaheguru and just enjoy Their Infinite Presence. It is hard to do so because that's how we learn everything else in the world. We theorize until we develop some sort of conclusion but Vaheguru cannot be subjected to this. All of the Manifestation has Vaheguru within it. Manifestation is dependent on Vaheguru but Vaheguru is not dependent on Manifestation.
It’s like Dhan Dhan Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaj teach to us:

ਜਾ ਕੀ ਲੀਲਾ ਕੀ; ਮਿਤਿ ਨਾਹਿ ॥
Ja Kee Leelaa Kee Mith[i] Naah[i]
Of Vaheguru's Play, we cannot know
ਸਗਲ ਦੇਵ; ਹਾਰੇ ਅਵਗਾਹਿ ॥
Sagal Dhaev Haarae Avgaah[i]
All the Divine Beings have surrendered and given up [trying]
ਪਿਤਾ ਕਾ ਜਨਮੁ; ਕਿ ਜਾਨੈ ਪੂਤੁ ॥
Pithaa Kaa Janam[u] Ki Jaanai Pooth[u]
What can the son know of the father's birth?
(Sri Sukhmani Sahib)

A child cannot be present to confirm the birth of his own father, there can only be speculation and the child cannot be a witness to it. Thus, our own Nirgun-Vaheguru is described as Agam and Agochar (see previous sections where we dive deep into these). It is wiser to stay quiet and just be in awe of thinking about such mysteries than to try to start a quest that will never end.
There's a story of Brahma becoming hangkaari (egoistic), thinking that all of his creative power made him God. He was made to go down the Lotus Stem from which he was created. Brahma kept going and going through Lotus. He gave up this ego as the Lotus never ended.
Dhan Guru Nanak Dev Sahib Ji Maharaj refer to this in Raag Aasaa:
ਨਾਲਿ ਕੁਟੰਬੁ ਸਾਥਿ ਵਰਦਾਤਾ; ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਭਾਲਣ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਗਇਆ ॥
Naal[i] Kuta[m]b[u] Saathh[i] Vardhaathaa Brahmaa BhaalaN Srist[i] Gaeiaa
ਆਗੈ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਓ...
Aagai A[n]th[u] n Paaeio
(Ang 350)

Similarly, Sheshnaag is a serpent like being who has 1000 heads and 2000 tongues (split tongue on each head).With ego, Sheshnaag said that they were able to say all the Names of Vaheguru. Sheshnaag is still trying to recite all the Names of Vaheguru. We understand that we cannot find the end of the qualities of Vaheguru. Even if you lived for hundreds of thousands of years, you would still not be able to comprehend Nirgun. Incomprehensible is Vaheguru's Nature.
Dhan Dhan Guru Gobind Singh Ji refer to Sheshnaag in Bachhithar Naatak)

ਸੇਸ ਨਾਗ; ਸਿਰ ਸਹਸ ਬਨਾਈ ॥
Saes Naag Sir Sahas Banaaee
ਸ੍ਵੈ ਸਹੰਸ; ਰਸਨਾਹ ਸੁਹਾਈ ॥
Swai Saha[n]s Rasanaah Suhaaee
ਰਟਤ ਅਬ ਲਗੇ; ਨਾਮ ਅਪਾਰਾ ॥
Ratath Ab Lagae Naam Apaaraa
ਤੁਮਰੋ ਤਊ; ਨ ਪਾਵਤ ਪਾਰਾ ॥੬॥
Thumro Touoo n Paavath Paaraa
(2nd adhiyaye)

In Japji Sahib, we are presented with many pangkti's that share this state of understanding about the unknowable Vaheguru:
ਜੇ ਕੋ ਕਹੈ ਕਰੈ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥
Jae Ko Kahai Karai Veechaar[u]
If someone tries to speak and contemplate...
ਕਰਤੇ ਕੈ ਕਰਣੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਸੁਮਾਰੁ ॥
Karthae Kai KaraNai Naahee Sumaar[u]
...the Actions of Vaheguru cannot be quantified (countable)...

ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਪੈ ਕੀਤਾ ਆਕਾਰੁ ॥
A[n]th[u] n Jaapai Keethaa Aakaar[u]
We cannot know of the end of this created manifestation.
ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਪੈ ਪਾਰਾਵਾਰੁ ॥
A[n]th[u] n Jaapai Paaraavaar[u]
We cannot know of the limits [of Vaheguru]
ਅੰਤ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਕੇਤੇ ਬਿਲਲਾਹਿ ॥
A[n]th KaaraN[i] Bilalaah[i]
For the sake of finding the end, many have lost their peace
ਤਾ ਕੇ ਅੰਤ ਨ ਪਾਏ ਜਾਹਿ ॥
Thaa Kae A[n]th n Paaeae Jaah[i]
We cannot even get to the end of the list of those [who tried to find the limits of Vaheguru]
ਏਹੁ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਕੋਇ ॥
Aeha[u] A[n]th[u] n JaaNai Koei
These Ends/Limits are not knowable by anyone
ਬਹੁਤਾ ਕਹੀਐ ਬਹੁਤਾ ਹੋਇ ॥
Bahuthaa Kaheeai Bahuthaa Hoei
The more you say about Vaheguru, even more is left to be said.
(Dhan Guru Nanak Dev Sahib Ji Maharaj)

Vaheguru is Infinite: that is all that can be said. We exist in a finite manifestation. When we realize this, we quit attaching ourselves to the finite and search for The Infinite. It is not that we are trying to know Vaheguru nor be able to quantify Vaheguru but to realize Reality and Love Vaheguru. All of those misconceptions we've had of reality, have to be removed in order to reveal the Truth. This happens through Vaheguru's own Kirpa. Let us do Ardaas for Sojhi and Prema Bhagti.

The translations are based on Mahan Kosh and daas' tuchh budhhi (weak intellect). Please take them with a grain of salt. If you have any questions feel free to contact daas for clarification. This is a very deep take on this granth. Sincerely doubt it's been looked at with such a lens but for a GurSikh, everything is seen from a lens of Gurbani. Please forgive for all mistakes I have made. This may be gibberish and waste of time to read for the real Gianis. I ask for forgiveness for wasting your time. Maaf Karna Ji

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