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"Those who boast are not respected."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 24

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


24

Those who stand on their toes are not steady.

Those who take long steps cannot keep the pace.

Those who show off do not shine.

Those who are self-righteous are not prominent.

Those who boast are not respected.

Those who praise themselves do not prevail.


To the Way,

Such people are surplus provisions and useless actions.

They are rejected by many.

Therefore:

Those who follow the Way do not remain with them.



Banned If You Boast

The world is full of self-appointed stars. I have a hard time condemning such people, partly because I might be one of them and partly because it's quite understandable, considering the short rat race we have entered by no will of our own.

       To put it bluntly, we are all going to die, and we know it. That's not a very envious position to be in. So, we try to make the best of it in any way we can. We're quite desperate to make it meaningful and significant. Right there is where false pride, self-righteousness, and bragging begin. It's understandable. How else to keep a brave heart as death inevitably approaches?

       Still, Lao Tzu is not wrong. If we allow this bragging and self-appraisal to clog what we see in the mirror, then we are sure to be victims of contempt. The reason is simple. We all share the same insoluble dilemma – a life always somehow too short, with an inescapable end at an unpredictable moment. Since that's the burden we all carry, who is to stand out, who is to wear a crown and sit on a throne?

       The only way to show respect towards all the others sharing the same predicament is to be humble about it.

       There are many who offend the guidelines of this chapter in the Tao Te Ching. Honestly, don't we all, occasionally? Some do it on a regular basis and with a vengeance. In many cases, they have admirers who assist them in this worship. Actually, we seem to love having idols that we praise for a while, and then forget or condemn.

       It's our longing for a life full of meaning. If we can't all have it, let's choose some of us to laureate, in order to keep the dream alive. These idols of ours are also our victims. Like the chosen ones among the pre-Columbian Chichimecas, our idols are cheered and spoiled for a time, and then sacrificed. Whether the praise is just one's own or shared by one's fellow men, the outcome is equally costly.

       We want to survive death, somehow. We want to make a mark. That aspiration is one of envy of the gods of our own invention. We want to be them. The old Greeks called it hubris, comparing oneself to the gods. We would call it delusion. It's not folly, but solace against the sad facts of life. We need to rid ourselves of the sadness by which we regard our fate, in order to overcome it.

       That's no easy path, but Lao Tzu also informs us that nobody said it was going to be easy. Tao might be the Way to a life of ease, in accordance with the universe, but getting there is no picnic.

© 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





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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.

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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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