Tao Te Ching: Third Chapter | Madhu Bazaz Wangu
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Tao Te Ching: Third Chapter

Tao Te Ching: Third Chapter

Tao Te Ching:

Third Chapter 

Do not exalt the worthy, so that people shall not compete.
Do not value rare treasures, so that the people shall not steal.
Do not display the objects of desire, so that the people’s hearts shall not be disturbed.

Therefore in the government of the sage,
He keeps their hearts vacuous,
Fills their bellies,
Weakens their ambitions,
And strengthens their bones,
He always causes his people to be without knowledge (cunning) or desire,
And the crafty to be afraid to act.
By acting without action, all things will be in order.


As I understand it:

In the Tao Te-Ching, the idea of personal achievements such as wealth, possessions, power and status is frowned upon because it promotes competition, jealousy, hate and anger. In an ideal state there is no need to award the worthy because all are award- worthy.

But our society is not ideal.  At the least what we can do is to govern our minds and those close to us like a sage does: avoid selfish desires.  Don’t push too hard to change what is — don’t over- tune the wire of a musical instrument, lest it breaks.   

Does it mean that we don’t strive for what our heart desires? No, we still follow our hearts’ desires, but we do it for ourselves and don’t boast to our neighbor about it. Thus while we take care of our bodies, strengthen our bones and follow our dreams, we need to change our behavior of patting our own backs.

So, we work toward our dreams and trust in Tao that is within us and around us. If our minds are pure and our actions selfless, our lives will settle into a perfect order.



Suggested Readings:  
Lao Tzu, The Way of Lao Tzu, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. 1963.
Dyer, Wayne W., Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of Tao. Hay House, Inc. 2007.

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