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.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chapter 46: Contentment

When the world yields to Dao, race horses will be used to haul manure. When the world ignores Dao war horses are pastured on the public common.

There is no sin greater than desire. There is no misfortune greater than discontent. There is no calamity greater than acquisitiveness.

Therefore to know extreme contentment is simply to be content.

Tao te Ching Chapter 46


It is sometimes surprising how many people have never examined what and why they desire.  For example, there are very many people in the world who, when you greet them, will immediately and consistently tell you what is wrong, with them, with the weather, with the world.   Since they tend to always respond this way, they must have some desire.  They must be seeking some gratification.  But what?  And why?

This chapter is perhaps the most accessible to the western mind.  It begins with an observation of social behavior and then personalizes it.

The first stanza observes that horses can serve prosperous ends when Dao is followed but destructive ends when it is not.  

The second stanza states clearly that it is desire, (and the Buddha might add, "the inability to acquire what we desire) that keeps us discontent.

The third stanza might be interpreted as "contentment comes from being happy for no reason.  always we want things, the weekend, the new TV, the better job.   How do we feel when we are experiencing a simple pleasure?   petting the dog?  Combing long hair slowly?   Is it possible to feel content simply for the sake of feeling content without any stimuli?
Thanks For Making This Possible! Kindly Bookmark and Share it.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble Facebook Twitter


  1. For me, Lao Tzu is addressing the bane of unmitigated desire. It is unrealistic to expect any human to not have a-n-y desires. From solely a biological standpoint, our brain desires for the body to live.

    Unmitigated desire is desire that controls us. It is insatiable. It points us away from the path and into the briars of selfishness, lust and greed.

    At another point, Lao Tzu urges us to learn to temper desire which, in my mind, both is more reasonable and realistic.

    1. Thanks Trey. I appreciate you insight. Please feel free to share your thoughts. I value them.