TAO TE CHING TEACHING: Houses of Gold

imperial

“A house filled with gold and jewels

No one is able to protect”

Having more things does not mean having more happiness. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It just means we have more things to worry about and accept responsibility for. Poor people don’t need security guards or CCTV cameras, because no one can steal what you do not have. No one can take emptiness away from you. It is your private treasure forever.

But the story has been played out over and over again throughout history. Blessed with an extraordinary amount of wealth, one’s life becomes mired with paranoia and distrust. People only come to you to seek out emoluments – no one cares about the hidden wealth of your character. Knowing of your prosperity, every thief and bandit will want to rob from you. Even if you have people to guard it, it will not prevent you from worrying about it. Thus:

A bank full of gold

Is a mind full of worries

A house full of riches

Is a heart full of woe

A belly filled with desire

Is a life filled with trouble

A chest full of treasure

Is a soul bereft of any

Don’t treasure wealth

Treasure integrity

And you will be as rich

As the Buddhas themselves

TAO TE CHING TEACHINGS: Minimum for Maximum

sword

“Pounding and hammering it –

You won’t preserve it long!”

Carrying on in the same vein, Lao Tzu continues to warn us against the perils of over-doing things. In this context, Lao Tzu uses the metaphor of refining or sharpening a blade. Continually trying to refine and perfect it, trying to make it ever sharper, even once it’s reached its peak level of sharpness, we damage what we are striving to perfect.

If we interfere and meddle with things constantly, we do not give them an opportunity to develop by themselves. If you over-water a plant, you’re likely to drown it in its pot. If you constantly poke and scratch a healing wound, you prevent it from being able to heal.

So, in working, do what you need to do and no more. Give time for your actions to resonate, so you can proceed according to the consequences they beget. It’s like speaking. If you start saying one thing while you’re already in the process of saying another, you will stammer, and people will not hear your message clearly. If you strike another note before letting the first one ring, you’ll end up with dissonance.

The notion that doing more always gets you more is incorrect. Doing things in the right way, to the right degree, at the right time is what makes the difference. If you do lots, but it is all wrong, then you will just be sowing difficulties. If do what is right, but to an extreme degree, you produce a response that may be opposite to the one you intended.

It is like stroking a cat. Cats want to be stroked. But you have to stroke them in the right way, to the right degree, and at the right time. If you stroke a cat too often, it is likely to scratch you. Make a habit of it, and the cat may even avoid you completely. But if you a stroke a cat well, but only a little, it will be clamouring for your attention to receive more of the affection it has tasted.

Using the absolute minimum of energy to reach the maximum effect – this is the way of the Taoist.

Tao Te Ching: 9

World

Attached to overdoing it?

Better not do it at all!

Pounding and hammering it?

You won’t preserve it long!

A house filled with gold and jewels

No one is able to guard

Wealth, power, and arrogance

Will only invite your downfall

Fulfil your purpose then withdraw

This is the Way of Heaven