This blog is an interpretation of the Tao te Ching "Tao Virtue Book" which is attributed to Laozi "Lao Tze" a Chinese philosopher who lived circa 600 b.c.

Please remember always that this is the description of the Tao and not the experience of the living Tao. Hopefully, this blog will not serve as analysis or commentary but as a window into the Tao. You are encouraged to disagree with this interpretation, involve yourself in self-study, and ultimately leave all concepts behind and so experience the living Tao.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Understanding the Tao te Ching Chapter 9 : 運夷


Continuing to fill a pail after it is full the water will be wasted. Continuing to grind an axe after it is sharp will soon wear it away.

Who can protect a public hall crowded with gold and jewels? The pride of wealth and position brings about their own misfortune. To win true merit, to preserve just fame, the personality must be retiring. This is the heavenly Dao.

Tao te Ching Chapter 9


On the surface this appears to be a message that is heard often.  Wealth brings trouble.  Indeed who can "protect a public hall" that is full of gold and jewels?  In the Bible 1st Timothy 6:9 it says; "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction."

This message of the dangers of wealth is actually a single stanza in the larger message of this chapter.  If we look at this sentence in the second stanza:  " To win true merit, to preserve just fame, the personality must be retiring." and compare it to the first stanza which says not to overfill or over-sharpen," a second message becomes clear.

It is often difficult for the goal oriented western mindset to realize that the Tao te Ching does not recommend accomplishing as much, or gathering as much wealth or fame as possible.  The Taoist often views himself as the container in the pail in the first stanza.  They have a natural capacity for work, for learning, for understanding.  To not do what is your nature to do is to miss the Tao within yourself, but, if your needs are fullfilled, are you better off working the extra ten hours a week for the fancy car, or by relaxing, spending time with the children perhaps.    The daoist does not see the need to set the mark too high.  Then he can meet his needs and still live in peace.

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