Heaven and earth are impartial;
they see the 10,000 things as straw dogs.
The sage is not sentimental;
he treats all his people as straw dogs.
The sage is like heaven and earth:
To him none are especially dear,
nor is there anyone he disfavors.
He gives and gives, without condition,
offering his treasures to everyone.
Between heaven and earth
is a space like the bellows;
empty and inexhaustible,
The more it is used, the more it produces.
Hold on to the center.
Man was made to sit quietly and find
the truth within.
What would the world be like if everyone loved without judgments, unconditionally and without attachments? What if everyone loved without connection to hair color, eye color, facial features, body shape, skin color, sexual orientation, affiliation with a particular group, vocation, religious beliefs or nationality? What if everyone could love without the need for attachments in the form of control, ownership, greed, jealousy or abuse? If we could, then we would love in accords with Heaven and earth. This is definitely possible because it is part of our innate being; part of the universe that we are a part of; without all of the ego fueled judgments and expectations that we pile on top of “the truth within”.
This verse uses the term “straw dogs”. In ancient Chinese culture, the straw dog was a ceremonial object. The verse is using that term to say how we should look at our physical form and everything around us in the physical world as ceremonial objects instead our true selves. What matters is what is underneath instead of the physical representations that we seem to put so much emphasis on. If we love some people for their physical forms, then we will also hate others for theirs.
In the second stanza, the verse says that the sage (wise person) does not hold anyone “especially dear”. I see this as meaning to love without the negative attachments of control, feelings of ownership or jealousy.
If we are looking within, we will see that there is something much more powerful, beautiful and perfect than the physical representation on the outside. The more of the “truth within” that we reveal, the more that it will open our eyes to the ridiculousness of the conditions that we create in our physical world. And the more that we will see that we don’t need those judgments or attachments.
How would you love differently if you loved without judgments or attachments?