Tao Te Ching Teachings: Wealth, Power, and Arrogance

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“Wealth, power and arrogance

Will only invite your downfall.”

Wealth is the hoarding up of more materials and goods than you actually use. Power is a different kind of wealth – it is the amassing and conservation of energy for use at a later date. Arrogance is selfishness falling in love with itself. It is the belief that possession of the two former attributes in some way makes you better than others.

Wealth and power in and of themselves are not bad things. Having great wealth, we can share it with others, giving to those who need it, and helping those who need it. Through this practice, the wealth of one, becomes the wealth of all, and everything is equalized.

Having great power, we can use this wealth of energy to nurture strength and flexibility. Have more than we need, we can use it to teach and heal others, training people through the arts and psychology we have used to strengthen and refine ourselves. Directing this energy to ever greater heights and selflessness, there’s is nothing we will not be able to accomplish.

However once arrogance – the act of being attached to one’s greatness – is added into the equation, ruin is swift and certain. All that energy and wealth we could share with others is re-routed into the ego, fostering selfishness, megalomania, paranoia, conceitedness, and coldness to others. Many people have been corrupted by wealth; many Taoists have been corrupted by their love of their own power.

If you can be powerful, without being attached to that power, using it to humble you instead of exalt you, then you need not worry. Remove arrogance, and wealth and power need not plague you.

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