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The Beauty Of The Tao Te Ching - Verse 9

How To Live With The Tao Te Ching In Everyday Life.

fire element tao te ching heart meridian

Verse 9

Fill your bowl to the brim

and it will spill.

Keep sharpening your knife

and it will be blunt.

Chase after money and security

and your heart will never unclench.

Care about people's approval

and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.

The only path to serenity.


The opening eight lines of this verse of the Tao Te Ching provide an accurate description of the cravings and desires that create the pressures and stresses of modern life, and yet this was written almost three thousand years ago. It seems the cravings and chasing of desires is something that humans have wrestled with since time began. The Buddha spoke of this very same thing.

It provides me with some reassurance to know that what we are feeling isn't just a result of the pace of the modern technological world, but actually just a part of the human condition. This connects us all with all of our ancestors, knowing we have all wrestled with the same issues, and reassuringly the guidance to freedom remains the same.

Do your work, then step back.

The only path to serenity.

The advice is clear. Don't hoard, don't gather, don't try too hard, don't work too hard, don't chase money or security, don't seek approval.

Do whatever you do, it doesn't matter what you do, it only matters how you do it. So do it with love and gratitude, and the appreciation of just being able to do it. Don't look for appreciation or reward. Go about your business peacefully within and leave the outside world to itself.

This is simple advice but not necessarily easy. it isn't a one-time solution, it's our life's work. It's what we do every moment of every day for as long as we are here on this planet.

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