Tao Te Ching Teaching: Putting Yourself Last

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“Therefore, The Sage

Puts himself last, and so is first”

The Sage, learning from Heaven and Earth, puts selflessness into practice. Because we have been raised to identify with ourselves so strongly, encouraged to put our own interests above everyone else’s, it is very difficult for us be selfless.

One way to combat attachment to the self is humility. When we consciously hold back, and are willing to put other’s needs before our own, we give selflessness a chance to take root. This may seem unnatural at first, because the desires that make us selfish are still very strong. But if we practice not giving into out desires, we gradually starve our desires of their strength, rendering them weak and feeble. When our desires and needs are not disturbing our being with reckless urgency, we are more easily able to put other’s needs first, as they have desires and needs we have largely resolved, or dispensed with altogether.

When we lose that urgency, we become completely satisfied, without needing anything to satisfy us. Every moment is simply satisfying in and of itself because there are no stray thoughts to disturb it, in the same way that a clear sunny day is satisfying, because there are no clouds to disturb it. So, truly, putting ourselves last, make us supreme.

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