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"If he acts without action,
order will prevail."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 3

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


3

Not praising the deserving

Prevents envy.

Not valuing wealth

Prevents theft.

Not displaying what's desirable

Prevents confusion of the senses.


Therefore:

The sage governs by emptying senses and filling bellies,

Curbing strife and strengthening backs,

Keeping the people ignorant and without desire,

Making the learned afraid to act.

If he acts without action, order will prevail.



As Little as Possible

Society is obsessed with the eagerness to change. Change for the better, we would like to believe. Today we call it progress, as if that's automatically the case. We encourage impatience and hurry onward, convinced that letting go of the past will bring an increasingly splendid future.

       This mentality is doomed to escalate and accelerate, until we have no time at all to compare our innovations with what they replace. We don't know if they are improvements. We don't even know what they lead to at length.

       One day, we might destroy our world without even realizing it.



Non-Action

Lao Tzu is wary of change, of interfering with the present state of things. He sees the world as one of precious balance, where action that is not carefully considered might easily lead to an avalanche of unwanted effects, before balance is restored. So he praises non-action, wu-wei. Do as little as possible, and only when you absolutely have to. Minimum interference ensures maximum stability.

       The more power you have, the more important it is to stick to non-action. A good ruler has the patience to refrain from action before knowing exactly what to do, and then to do as little as possible. Even for great problems, small solutions are usually the safest – and the most efficient. Big solutions cause new problems of equal size.

       There are those who claim to know what is needed, but they seldom know what needs may arise out of their solutions. So, they don't know enough. Knowledge is also power and should be treated with the same concern.

       The ones who know the most should be the most humble about the certainty of their knowledge. If they are aware of the risk of being proven wrong by a future in the direction of their suggestion, they will be hesitant to propagate it. That's how they can make their responsibility equal to their knowledge.


Moderation

Mankind is a longing species. Each of us knows that we are mortal, so we are desperate to live our lives to the fullest. This makes us easy victims of greed and envy. We guard each other with envy, suffering to the extent that others seem to enjoy themselves, struggling for a surplus surpassed by none, losing any sense of what is enough.

       Greed makes it impossible to delight in what we have, since there will always be more to get. This cannot last.

       Lao Tzu's cure for such galloping madness is moderation in all. Only if we cease to crave for what we don't possess, we can appreciate what we have. If so, we will find that we don't need much at all. Anything beyond food to keep us from getting hungry is a luxury that we can do without. Any other power than the strength to endure is a burden.

       We live in a society of mass consumption. All of us are both producers and consumers, but we tend to forebear the former just for the reason of being able to indulge in the latter. Should we not be happier about what we are able to create than what we hurry to waste? At least, we should be able to ask ourselves if we really want everything that we set our eyes on.

       The joy of giving in to greed is quickly replaced by the disappointment of its minute reward. That's the trap of longing. Few things are as pleasing when we get them, as they were tempting when we longed for them.

       We must learn the deep and lasting pleasure of discovering how much it is that we do not need. Thereby we also learn how much we already have, and how precious that is.

© Stefan Stenudd.

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Tao Te Ching Explained


Preface


Introduction


Literature


The 81 Chapters of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
translated and explained by Stefan Stenudd.
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Tao Te Ching Explained


James Legge's Tao Te Ching


Aleister Crowley's Tao Te Ching


The 1st Chapter of Tao Te Ching in 76 Versions


Lao Tzu - Legendary Author of Tao Te Ching





My Taoism Books:


Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Te Ching

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.


Tao Quotes - the Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Quotes

The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. 389 quotes from the foremost Taoist classic, divided into 51 prominent topics. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.



My Other Websites:


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Other Books by Stefan Stenudd:


Cosmos of the Ancients. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Cosmos of the Ancients

The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


QI - increase your life energy. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Qi - Increase Your Life Energy

The life energy qi (also chi or ki) explained, with exercises on how to awaken, increase and use it. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Aikido Principles. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Aikido Principles

Basic Concepts of the Peaceful Martial Art
Aikido principles, philosophy, and basic ideas. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Sunday Brunch with the World Maker. Novel by Stefan Stenudd. Sunday Brunch with the World Maker

Fiction. A brunch conversation slips into the mysterious, soon to burst beyond the realm of possibility. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction. Stefan Stenudd


About me

I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism and other East Asian traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.

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