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"The sage puts himself last and becomes the first."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 7

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


7

Heaven is eternal and Earth is lasting.

How can they be eternal and lasting?

Because they do not live for themselves.

That is how they can be eternal.


Therefore:

The sage puts himself last and becomes the first,

Neglects himself and is preserved.

Is it not because he is unselfish that he fulfills himself?



Unselfishness

The well-known reward for the unselfish is the praise received. Another benefit is hinted in the example of Heaven and Earth: The ones who don't live for themselves will endure, because that path is less straining, less of a struggle.

       Those who strive to get ahead are quickly fatigued and wear themselves down. Impatience and discontent are poison to the mind, therefore to the body as well. That's how it works. The one who chases his own happiness will never catch it. He just rushes from the cradle to the grave. He may reach far and gather a fortune, but when will he have time to enjoy it?

       The humble ones with modest demands are easily satisfied and therefore soon to be joyous. Their joy lasts, because it's undisturbed by temptation. Such an attitude towards life is appeasing to the mind and a remedy for the body.

       There is no guarantee for longevity, but those who are pleased with their situation have a better chance at it than those who never get enough.

       Of course, the reward for unselfishness can create a paradox. Considering such a reward, what selfish man would not try his utmost to be unselfish – at least enough to receive the benefits of it? That would be selfish unselfishness.

       I doubt that it matters, though. We shape our lives and affect the lives of others by our deeds, not by the thoughts behind them. A good deed is helpful, whatever the reason for it. Considering the sad state much of the world is in, we can't afford to be picky. A good deed does good, even if its purpose is selfish.

       Furthermore, it's quite possible that a selfish benefactor will be so pleased with the outcome that he forgets his original intention. That's one of the finer sides of mankind – delight and pleasure are contagious. Unfortunately, so are bitterness and anger. Another reason for encouraging good deeds of whatever intent.

© 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:


I Ching Online

The 64 hexagrams of the Chinese classic I Ching and what they mean in divination. Try it online for free.


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Life Energy

The many ancient and modern life force beliefs all over the world explained.


Creation Myths

Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient cosmology they reveal.


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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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